To Make a Nation: The Rediscovery of American Federalism

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9780674893184: To Make a Nation: The Rediscovery of American Federalism

Lyndon Johnson heralded a “new federalism,” as did Ronald Reagan. It was left to the public to puzzle out what such a proclamation, coming from both ends of the political spectrum, could possibly mean. Of one thing we can be certain: theories of federalism, in whatever form they take, are still shaping our nation. The origin of these theories―what they meant to history and how they apply today―becomes clear in this book by one of our most distinguished writers on political thought.

The great English republicans of the seventeenth century appear in this story along with their American descendants, who took the European idea of a federal republic and recast it as new and unique. Samuel Beer’s extraordinary knowledge of European political thought, displayed especially in discussions of Thomas Aquinas and James Harrington, allows him to show at every turn the historical precedents and the originality of American federalism in theory and practice. In deft comparisons with Hume, Burke, Blackstone, and Montesquieu, the familiar figures of Madison and Hamilton emerge with new substance and depth, while some who would seem fully known by now, such as Ben Franklin, reveal unsuspected dimensions, and others, such as James Wilson, are lifted from obscurity.

Beer uses this history to highlight the contrast between the nation-centered federalism of the framers of the Constitution and the state-centered federalism of its opponents. His concern is not only with historical origins but, more important, with a conflict of ideas which reaches far into our history and continues on to this day. The result is the clearest articulation ever given of the provenance and purpose of the ideas of nationalism and federalism in American political philosophy. A masterpiece of historical and political analysis, this book provides an innovative interpretive framework for understanding democracy and the American Constitution.

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About the Author:

Samuel H. Beer was the Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr., Professor of American Politics at Boston College.

From Library Journal:

In lucid, elegant prose, Beer, an eminent Harvard political scientist, inquires into the "national theory" of American federalism. "Federalism," he warns us, "is not a humdrum matter of public administration but a serious question of political philosophy." In Beer's view, national theory emerged as a conscious choice, not an historical accident; he persuasively rejects competing claims of "compact theory," which holds that the states, not the people, created the Constitution. A highly readable intellectual political history in the tradition of Lawrence J. R. Herson's The Politics of Ideas: Politics, Theory and American Public Policy (Waveland Pr., 1990), Beer's work clarifies the ideas of Montesquieu, Milton, Machiavelli, and Madison, among others, that shaped our nation and that continue to provide a framework for government today. Recommended for government collections in large public and all academic libraries.
- Grace Franklin, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., Ohio
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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H. Beer, Samuel:
Verlag: Harvard University Press, (1998)
ISBN 10: 0674893182 ISBN 13: 9780674893184
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Buchbeschreibung Harvard University Press, 1998. Taschenbuch. Buchzustand: Gut. 496 Seiten 1994, Gesamtzustand bis sehr gut, (32130) EE-Z43Y-1EEA Sprache: Englisch Gewicht in Gramm: 640. Artikel-Nr. 72520

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