The emergence of the United States as a major player in Asia and Latin America was closely related to the spectacular growth of the American economy in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. This explosive growth accompanied the centralization of the federal government's bureaucracy and the establishment of a truly national state. Between the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of the First World War, the "island communities" of rural America slowly disappeared as social and economic changes ushered in a modern, urban, industrial United States. During these years, the American economy was transformed from one based on small, family-owned businesses to one dominated by a highly integrated system of large corporations. A new professional and managerial class engineered this transformation and redefined middle class America by the dawn of the new century. As historians Robert Wiebe, Martin J. Sklar, and Olivier Zunz have suggested, the dynamism of American foreign policy in this period had its roots in the economic and bureaucratic restructuring of American life.


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