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The same people who, in the years 1871-1914, were remodeling their constitutions and introducing more and more of the institutions of democracy were also enlarging the tasks for their government to perform. In the laissez-faire state advocated by political economists in the preceding generation, the government had been almost a mere policeman, a night watchman. Now, in the beginnings of what a later age would call the welfare state, the government was tending to assume new roles: benevolent parent, social engineer, landlord, philanthropist, master mind, and even - or so its critics alleged - Santa Claus.Armed with new powers of compulsion exercised in the name of the general welfare, the state now entered areas where hitherto it had acted only exceptionally, or not at all. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section XVII: The Transformation of Liberalism and Nationalism, 1871-1914. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.