late 14c., "act of governing or ruling;" 1550s, "system by which a thing is governed" (especially a state), from Old French governement "control, direction, administration" (Modern French gouvernement), from governer "to steer, be at the helm of; govern, rule, command, direct," from Latin gubernare "to direct, rule, guide, govern," originally "to steer, to pilot"(see govern). Meaning "governing power" in a given place is from 1702. Compare governance.
Besides this, it is a well known fact, one made sufficiently clear by the history of the United States, that the less governmentalism there is in a country, the better it is for the citizens as to their material interests. A very complicated governmental apparatus, when, especially, it is useless, is and can be only hurtful to the interests of the mass of the people. [Amedee H. Simonin, "Resumption of Specie Payments," 1868]