Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Economics Dept.


James Siodla


The Galveston-Des Moines Plan for commission government, seen as an important municipal reform during the Progressive Era meant to address corruption and inefficiency in many cities, was pitched by business elites and spread like wildfire in the 1910s. Is there a spatial component to the spread of the adoption of the commission form of government? What are the municipal fiscal outcomes of adoption? This paper shows that there was a spatial spread to its adoption using a lagged state adoption proportion variable. This paper also reveals that promises made by business elites such as increased efficiency and projects to improve infrastructure were not fulfilled under the commission model, with business elites seeming to benefit personally from its adoption. This is seen through a reduction in taxes that target corporate wealth.


Commission Government, Progressive Era, Urban Economics, Efficiency, Municipal Reform, Fiscal Outcomes