Affairs of State: Public Life in Late Nineteenth-Century America

Overview

This first modern history of American public life after the Civil War is a work of magisterial sweep and sophisticated insight. It will be the standard work on the era for many years to come.

Integrating political, legal, and administrative history on a scale not previously attempted, Morton Keller examines crosscurrents in American institutions during a key transitional period in American history—a period that began with the end of a bloody civil war and ended with the ...

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Overview

This first modern history of American public life after the Civil War is a work of magisterial sweep and sophisticated insight. It will be the standard work on the era for many years to come.

Integrating political, legal, and administrative history on a scale not previously attempted, Morton Keller examines crosscurrents in American institutions during a key transitional period in American history—a period that began with the end of a bloody civil war and ended with the beginning of massive industrialization. At the same time, he vividly captures the energy and optimism of a young country about to burst into the twentieth century.

Keller begins by reviewing the twin legacies of the Civil War: a strengthened belief in an active national government and a vigorous drive toward civil equality. He moves on to the postwar years when centralizing and reformist tendencies were evident everywhere, not only in the Reconstructed South but also in a renewed North. After the 1880s, however, the pendulum began to swing back, and Americans faced the social and economic upheavals of the last decades of the nineteenth century with deeply divided views—an uncertainty that persists in our own day.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A masterly and insightful analysis of the public life of Americans in the post-Civil War era.
New York Times
In this major new history, the author explores the changes caused by the Civil War and the impact of politics, law, and government upon the new social and economic order...In a highly original chapter defining the new status of groups in the industrialized nation, Professor Keller discusses the barriers to women's rights; how old assumptions of black racial inferiority were bolstered by scientific racism; the forced movement for Indian assimilation, and the fluid relationships of families and marriage.
New Republic
Absolutely first-class--broadly informed, beautifully written, by all odds the best history of modern American politics that is presently available. An indispensable book.
Journal of Interdisciplinary History
Keller's purpose is to evoke the complex character of America's public experience; its electoral politics, political thought, legal doctrines, and judicial behavior; its public policies; and the scope and reach of national, state, and local institutions...This is a remarkable book. There is nothing quite like it anywhere else...Keller has given new dimension to the politics of the last third of the nineteenth century.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674007215
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1977
  • Pages: 631

Meet the Author

Morton Keller received his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Harvard University, and is author of numerous books and articles, including In Defense of Yesterday: James M. Beck and the Politics of Conservatism and The Art and Politics of Thomas Nast. He has also edited books on the New Deal and the age of Theodore Roosevelt. Mr. Keller is currently Samuel J. and Augusta Spector Professor of History at Brandeis University.
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