In a series of essays from America's founding to the present day, this volume opens up avenues for historical research while offering bold claims about the tensions that have animated American public life. Revealing the fierce struggles that have taken place over the role of the federal government and the character of representative democracy, the authors trace the contested and dynamic evolution of the national polity. The contributors offer original interpretations of the nation's political past by blending methodological insights from the new institutionalism in the social sciences and studies of political culture. They tackle topics as wide-ranging as the role of personal character of political elites in the Early Republic, to the importance of courts in building a modern regulatory state, to the centrality of local political institutions in the later 20th century. Placing these essays side by side encourages the asking of new questions about the forces that have shaped American politics over time.
Meg Jacobs is Assistant Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. William Novak is Associate Professor of History at the University of Chicago and Research Fellow at the American Bar Foundation. He is the author of The People's Welfare. Julian E. Zelizer is Associate Professor of Public Policy, Public Administration, and Political Science at the State University of New York at Albany. He is the author of Taxing America.