Elaborating his theory of constituent moments, Frank focuses on specific historical instances when under-authorized individuals or associations seized the mantle of authority, and, by doing so, changed the inherited rules of authorization and produced new spaces and conditions for political representation. He looks at crowd actions such as parades, riots, and protests; the Democratic-Republican Societies of the 1790s; and the writings of Walt Whitman and Frederick Douglass. Frank demonstrates that the revolutionary establishment of the people is not a solitary event, but rather a series of micropolitical enactments, small dramas of self-authorization that take place in the informal contexts of crowd actions, political oratory, and literature as well as in the more formal settings of constitutional conventions and political associations.
Through close readings of debates centered around sponsorship, supervision, and standardization recorded in the Congressional Globe and Congressional Record during this period, Williamjames Hull Hoffer traces a critical shift in ideas that ultimately ushered in Progressive legislation: the willingness of American citizens to allow, and in fact ask for, federal intervention in their daily lives. He describes this era of congressional thought as a "second state," distinct from both the minimalist approaches that came before and the Progressive state building that developed later. The "second state" era, Hoffer contends, offers valuable insight into how conceptions of American uniqueness contributed to the shape of the federal government.
Examining the fifty-two years from the end of Reconstruction to the beginning of the Great Depression, Johnson shows that the "first New Federalism" was created during this era from dozens of policy initiatives enacted by a modernizing Congress. The expansion of national power took the shape of policy instruments that reflected the constraints imposed by the national courts and the Constitution, but that also satisfied emergent policy coalitions of interest groups, local actors, bureaucrats, and members of Congress.
Thus, argues Johnson, the New Deal was not a decisive break with the past, but rather a superstructure built on a foundation that emerged during the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era. Her evidence draws on an analysis of 131 national programs enacted between 1877 and 1930, a statistical analysis of these programs, and detailed case studies of three of them: the Federal Highway Act of 1916, the Food and Drug Act of 1906, and the Sheppard-Towner Act of 1921. As this book shows, federalism has played a vital but often underappreciated role in shaping the modern American state.
Jefferson's vision of an American "empirefor liberty" was modeled on a British prototype. But as a consensual union ofself-governing republics without a metropolis, Jefferson's American empire would befree of exploitation by a corrupt imperial ruling class. It would avoid the cycle ofwar and destruction that had characterized the European balance ofpower.
The Civil War cast in high relief thetragic limitations of Jefferson's political vision. After the Union victory, as thereconstructed nation-state developed into a world power, dreams of the United Statesas an ever-expanding empire of peacefully coexisting states quickly faded frommemory. Yet even as the antebellum federal union disintegrated, a Jeffersoniannationalism, proudly conscious of America's historic revolution against imperialdomination, grew up in its place.
In Onuf's view, Jefferson's quest to define a new American identity also shaped his ambivalentconceptions of slavery and Native American rights. His revolutionary fervor led himto see Indians as "merciless savages" who ravaged the frontiers at the Britishking's direction, but when those frontiers were pacified, a more benevolentJefferson encouraged these same Indians to embrace republican values. AfricanAmerican slaves, by contrast, constituted an unassimilable captive nation, unjustlywrenched from its African homeland. His great panacea: colonization.
Jefferson's ideas about race revealthe limitations of his conception of American nationhood. Yet, as Onuf strikinglydocuments, Jefferson's vision of a republican empire--a regime of peace, prosperity, and union without coercion--continues to define and expand the boundaries ofAmerican national identity.