In a new book, Michael Lind attributes America's economic dominance to a "collaboration between the government and the private sector and, increasingly in the 20th century, the nonprofit, academic research sector":

It’s quite a different story in reality from the tale that is sometimes told of how capitalism grew up without controls in the United States, and then with the New Deal it came under regulation. In fact, the government both at the federal and the state level was deeply involved with projects for promoting the industrialization of the United States and the creation of a capitalist market from the administration of George Washington onward.

One of the ways it did so was through investing in infrastructure. We’ve had a series of ambitious infrastructure projects – the early canal system and then the transcontinental railroads that were funded by the Lincoln administration and Congress at the beginning of the Civil War, through to the interstate highway system. But government contribution to economic growth wasn’t just limited to that – it included funding basic research. For example, Congress gave a grant to Samuel Morse, who developed Morse code and the first American telegraph [in the 1840s] …