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This examination of the ideas of nationalism and federalism in US political philosophy reveals the provenance, purpose and origins of these theories. From the republicans of the 17th century to the modern American, it reveals unsuspected dimensions that have shaped, and are still shaping, America.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674893184
ISBN-10: 0674893182
Format: Paperback
(235mm x 159mm x 25mm)
Pages: 496
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 20-Oct-1994
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » Harvard government professor Beer traces the evolution of American federalism and, with scholary zeal, reilluminates the eternal state-vs.-central-government debate. The Constitution, according to Beer, "displays much blank space," and, to understand it, it's necessary to look at the tradition behind it. Beer has a threefold aim here: to trace the intellectual evolution that sought to sweep away the "dark ribaldry of hereditary, indefeasible right," in John Adams's phrase; to look at American federalism in light of the ideas behind the failed English Commonwealth of the 17th century; and to examine federalist ideas in terms of the challenges to them over the past two centuries. Beer offers lengthy discussions of the usual suspects, from Madison, whose Federalist Papers are a cohesive statement of the philosophy he favored, to Montesquieu, who felt that popular government was unworkable in a diverse and fragmented country. But the author also enlists Milton, whose Areopagitica championed flee speech and who envisioned a government by discussion rather than by fiat, and little-known writers such as James Harrington and James Wilson. The author is an expert on English politics, and his sections on such thinkers as Harrington, whose vision of federalism was a precursor to the American version in that he argued that government derives authority from the will of the people, are especially good. And Beer's discussion of the debate over federalism in this country is a valuable summation of a seemingly almost medieval doctrinal wrangle. Beer's fresh approach sometimes grades into obscurity, but, still, this is an erudite and forceful work, packed with the scholarship of a lifetime. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Samuel H. Beer

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

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