Document Type



Emory Johnson served in a series of executive-branch appointments pertaining to the Panama Canal. Like many other executive experts, he used his professional skills and reputation as political tools, promoting the canal and bringing its toll-making under his control. His activities diverged from what scholars have described as other experts' practice of gaining influence by insulating themselves from the preceding era's partisan politics, however. An avowed Republican, he worked in collaboration with appointed officials and lobbied members of the public and Congress alike. Although he presented economic data as objective fact, his persuasive efforts drew heavily on an often-forgotten strand of the party's ideological tradition. It paradoxically promoted transportation projects simultaneously in associative terms, as using the market to secure the Union, and as benefiting the divergent interests of competing individual localities. Johnson's work reveals a professional in the federal government as a more multidimensional historical figure than that which appears in accounts describing experts as symbols of an undemocratic administrative state, illustrating a complex set of ties between the preceding period's political beliefs and practices and the rise of an administrative state.

Publication Date


Original Citation

VandeCreek, Drew E. "Emory Johnson and the Emergence of Economic Expertise in the Progressive State, 1893-1913" Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era Volume 17, Issue 2 April 2018 , pp. 276-296


University Libraries

Legacy Department







Cambridge University Press



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