Fighting for the Speakership: The House and the Rise of Party Government

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"The Speaker of the House is the third-highest constitutional office in the United States. Yet political scientists and historians have largely ignored how the House chooses the holder of this exalted position. No longer--Jenkins and Stewart have convincingly placed the contest for the speakership at the center of the historical development of Congress."--Nolan McCarty, Princeton University

"The development of an 'organizational cartel' has been central to the evolution of political parties in the U.S. House. The parties control access to committee and leadership slots. Whether this has allowed parties to control policy is a separate and contingent matter. Jenkins and Stewart press this theoretical distinction and offer much else in this excellent and authoritative work of congressional history."--David Mayhew, Yale University

"This is an ambitious and impressive piece of scholarship with extraordinary historical sweep. Urging scholars to move beyond the study of the majority party's procedural control of the agenda, Jenkins and Stewart grapple with the organizational evolution of the House and the starring role ultimately played in that institutional drama by the majority party caucus. This is a must-read for students of Congress and America's political development."--Sarah Binder, George Washington University and the Brookings Institution

"Fighting for the Speakership makes a new and important contribution to our knowledge of the role of speakership contests in the development of party organization in the House of Representatives. Most previous scholarship begins with the observation that majority parties firmly control the House's top organizational positions. Jenkins and Stewart show that this was not always the case."--Steven S. Smith, author of Party Influence in Congress

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

One of Choice's Editors' Picks for 2013

"An excellent look at the history of majority party leadership in the House."--Choice

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Jeffery A. Jenkins is associate professor of politics at the University of Virginia. Charles Stewart III is the Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii
List of Tables ix
List of Abbreviations xi

Preface xiii

Chapter 1
Introduction 1

Chapter 2
The Evolving Roles and Responsibilities of House Officers in the Antebellum Era 25

Chapter 3
Organizational Politics under the Secret Ballot 56

Chapter 4
Bringing the Selection of House Officers into the Open 76

Chapter 5
Shoring Up Partisan Control: The Speakership Elections of 1839 and 1847 109

Chapter 6
Partisan Tumult on the Floor: The Speakership Elections of 1849 and 1855-1856 151

Chapter 7
The Speakership and the Rise of the Republican Party 193

Chapter 8
Caucus Governance and the Emergence of the Organizational Cartel, 1861-1891 241

Chapter 9
The Organizational Cartel Persists, 1891-2011 274

Chapter 10
Conclusion 303

House Officer Elections and Caucus Nominations 323

Appendix 1
Summary of House Organization, First-112th Congresses (1789-2011)

Appendix 2
Election of House Speaker, First-112th Congresses

Appendix 3
Election of House Clerk, First-112th Congresses

Appendix 4
Election of House Printer, 15th-36th Congresses

Appendix 5
Summary of Democratic and Republican Caucus Nominations for Speaker, 38th-112th Congresses

Appendix 6
Democratic and Republican Caucus Nominations for Speaker, 38th-112th Congresses

References 421
Index 439

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