To begin with, there never was anything remotely like a period of laissez-faire in American history (at least not if “laissez-faire” means “let the market operate freely” as opposed to “let the rich and powerful help themselves to other people’s property”). The regulatory state was deeply involved from the start, particularly in the banking and currency industries and in the assignment of property titles to land. (Even such land as was not stolen from the natives was seldom appropriated in accordance with any sort of Lockean homesteading principle; instead, vast tracts of unimproved land were simply declared property by barbed wire or legislative fiat.)
The early republic’s two major political factions – to oversimplify a bit, call them the Jeffersonians (as represented by the Democrats) and the Hamiltonians (as represented successively by the Federalists, Whigs, and Republicans) – disagreed primarily about which forms of governmental interference to emphasise.
Bitcoin tips welcome: