Perspectives on American Government: Readings in Political Development and Institutional Change

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The second edition of this much-admired book offers an accessible and coherent selection of readings illustrating for students the depth and contours of how American politics has developed over time. Grounded in foundational debates, classic political science scholarship, and the best contemporary analysis of American political development, this reader invites students to probe the historical dynamics that brought the United States to where it is today and how those dynamics are likely to affect its future course.

This well-designed and up-to-date reader is an invitation to instructors to draw your students into a deeper conversation on the key themes and topics in each section of your course. The second edition features:

  • Revised introductions and selections
  • 33 new readings
  • Expanded sections on civil rights and civil liberties.

Jillson and Robertson have carefully edited each selection to ensure readability and fidelity to the original arguments. Their insightful editorial introductions frame the context in which these topics are studied and understood. Several key pedagogical tools help students along the way:

  • An introductory essay provides an overview of American political development and current examples of why history matters
  • Chapter introductions to provide necessary context situating the readings in broader debates
  • Head notes at the start of each reading to contextualize that selection
  • Questions for Discussion at the end of each chapter, prompting students to draw out the implications and connections across readings
  • Further Reading lists at the end of each chapter to guide student research

The broad readings in this volume take seriously the effort to present materials that help students make sense of the historical changes and institutional developments that are essential for understanding American government and politics today.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Perspectives on American Government is a perfect book for any Introduction to American Government class. The blend of original sources, classic research, and contemporary scholarship provides a wide range of material for class discussion. All types of students will find something that motivates them to dig deeper into the fundamental questions of democracy, representation, power, and policy."
—David Ciuk, Franklin & Marhshal University

"The mix of classic and contemporary readings selected in this volume do a terrific job illustrating the complexity and layering of American political dynamics. Classic articles depict the contributions of seminal figures in American political development, and contemporary articles illustrate how American politics have developed over time. Where this volume is especially strong is in connecting the past developments to current problems. Jillson and Robertson’s prose is straightforward and the explanations for students are accessible."
—Jonathan Chausovsky, State University of New York, Fredonia

"I have used the first edition previously and while it was very useful in giving the student a deeper insight, this Second Edition is even better. In my opinion, the best ‘Readings’ available."
—Stephen Clay Anthony, Georgia State University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415999212
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 8/20/2009
  • Pages: 552
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Cal Jillson is Professor of Political Science at Southern Methodist University and former Director of the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a frequent commentator on domestic and international politics for local, national, and international media. He is the author of Pursuing the American Dream: Opportunity and Exclusion Over Four Centuries, Texas Politics: Governing the Lone Star State, and Congressional Dynamics, and editor of The Dynamics of American Politics, New Perspectives on American Politics, and Pathways to Democracy: The Political Economy of Democratic Transitions. He has also served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of Dedman College at SMU.

David Brian Robertson is Professor of Political Science and Fellow in the Public Policy Research Center at the University of Missouri - St. Louis. His books include The Constitution and America's Destiny and The Development of American Public Policy: The Structure of Policy Restraint (co-author). He is Associate Editor of the Journal of Policy History and he edits CLIO, the newsletter of the Politics and History section of the American Political Science Association. Robertson has received the Governor's, Chancellor's, and Emerson Electric Awards for Teaching Excellence. He is the political analyst for KSDK Television (NBC).

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1. The Origins of American Political Principles 1.1 John Locke, "Of the Beginnings of Political Societies" (1690) 1.2 Federalist Papers, 1 and 2 (1787) 1.3 Gordon S. Wood, "Republicanism" (2002) 1.4 Samuel P. Huntington, "The Disharmonic Polity" (1981) 1.5 James Morone, "The Democratic Wish" (1998) 1.6 Rogers M. Smith, "The Multiple Traditions in America" (1993). 2. The Revolution and the Constitution 2.1 Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776) 2.2 David Brian Robertson, "Madison’s Opponents and Constitutional Design" (2005) 2.3 Benjamin Franklin, Debate in the Constitutional Convention, "On Signing the Constitution" (1787) 2.4 Letter to Congress to accompany the Constitution (1787) 2.5 Herbert Storing, "What the Anti-Federalists Were For" (1981) 2.6 Federalist Papers, 47 and 48 (1788) 2.7 Akhil Reed Amar, "America’s Constitution" (2005) 3. Federalism and the American Political System 3.1 Federalist Papers, 39 and 45 (1788) 3.2 The Webster-Hayne Debates (1830) 3.3 V.O. Key, "Southern Politics in State and Nation" (1949) 3.4 Margaret Weir, "States, Race, and the Decline of New Deal Liberalism" (2005) 3.5 Suzanne Mettler, "Gender and Federalism in New Deal Public Policy" (1998) 3.6 Martha Derthick, "Keeping the Compound Republic" (2001) 4. Political Socialization and Public Opinion 4.1 John and Abigail Adams, "Women in the New Nation" (1776) 4.2 Alexis de Tocqueville, "Unlimited Power of the Majority in the United States" (1835) 4.3 Walter Lippmann, "The World Outside and the Pictures in Our Heads" (1922) 4.4 Susan Herbst, "Contemporary Public Opinion Research" (1993) 4.5 Cass Sunstein, "Polarization and Cybercascades" (2007) 4.6 Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Shapiro, "Politicians Don’t Pander" (2000) 5. The Mass Media 5.1 Thomas Jefferson, "Newspapers and Democracy" (1787) 5.2 H.L. Mencken, "Newspaper Morals" (1914) 5.3 New York Times v. United States (1971) 5.4 Samuel Kernell, "The Early Nationalization of Political News in America" (1986) 5.5 Bartholomew Sparrow, "The News Media as a Political Institution" (1999) 5.6 Scott Gant, "We’re All Journalists Now" (2007) 6. Interest Groups 6.1 Debates at the Constitutional Convention, "Popular Participation, Factions, and Democratic Politics" (1787) 6.2 Alexis de Tocqueville, "Political Association in the United States" (1835) 6.3 E. E. Schattachneider, "The Scope and Bias of the Pressure System" (1960) 6.4 Kay Lehman Schlozman, "What Accent the Heavenly Chorus" (1984) Richard Harris and Daniel Tichenor, "Organized Interests and American Political Development" (2002-2003) 6.6 Elisabeth Clemens, "Politics Without Party: The Organizational Accomplishments Of Disenfranchised Women" (1997) 7. Political Parties 7.1 James Reichley, "Intention of the Founders: A Polity Without Parties" (1992) 7.2 James Madison, "A Candid State of Parties" (1792) 7.3 John H. Aldrich, "Why Parties Form" (1995) 7.4 Sidney Milkis, "The President and the Parties" (1993) 7.5 James Sundquist, "Party Realignment: What, When, How?" (1983) Morris Fiorina, "Culture Wars? The Myth of a Polarized America" (2006) 8. Voting, Campaigns, and Elections 8.1 Debates at the Constitutional Convention, "Should Common Citizens be Allowed to Vote?" (1787) 8.2 Alexander Keyssar, "Democracy Ascendant: The Right to Vote" (2000) 8.3 V.O. Key, "The Voice of the People: An Echo" (1966) 8.4 Samuel L. Popkin, "The Reasoning Voter" (1991) 8.5 Anthony King, "Running Scared" (1997) 8.6 Dennis Johnson, "Political Consultants at Work" (2007) 9. Congress: Lawmaking and Representation 9.1 Edmund Burke, "Letter to the Electors of Bristol" (1774) 9.2 Federalist Papers, 62 (1788) 9.3 Woodrow Wilson, "Congressional Government" (1885) 9.4 David Mayhew, "The Electoral Incentive" (1974) 9.5 Eric Schickler, "Institutional Development of Congress" (2004) 9.6 Barbara Sinclair, "Parties and Leadership in the House" (2006) 10. The President 10.1 John Locke, "Of Prerogative" (1690) 10.2 Debates at the Constitutional Convention, "Limits on Executive Power" (1787) 10.3 Federalist Papers, 70 and 72 (1789) 10.4 Abraham Lincoln, "On Suspension of Habeas Corpus" (1861) 10.5 Theodore Roosevelt, "Immediate and Vigorous Executive Action" (1909) 10.6 Keith Whittington and Daniel Carpenter, "Executive Power in American Institutional Development" (2003) 10.7 Andrew Rudalevige, "Charting a New Imperial Presidency" (2006) 11. Bureaucracy: Shaping Government for the 21st Century 11.1 Max Weber, "Characteristics of Modern Bureaucracy" (1922) 11.2 Woodrow Wilson, "The Study of Administration" (1887) 11.3 Norton Long, "Power and Administration" (1949) 11.4 James Q. Wilson, "Bureaucracy" (1989) Daniel Carpenter, "The Evolution of the National Bureaucracy" (2005) 11.6 Paul Light, "Thickening Government," (1995, 2004) 12. The Federal Courts: Activism v. Restraint 12.1 Federalist Papers, 81 (1788) 12.2 Marbury v. Madison (1803) 12.3 Jeffrey Rosen, "The Most Democratic Branch" (2005) 12.4 Howard Gillman, "The Courts and the 2000 Election" (2001) 12.5 Thomas M. Keck, "Modern Conservatism and Judicial Power" (2004) 12.6 Gerald Rosenberg, "The Hollow Hope" (1991) 13. Civil Liberties and Civil Rights 13.1 James Madison, "Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments" (1785) 13.2 Abraham Lincoln, "Speech on the Dred Scott Decision" (1857); "The Gettysburg Address" (1863); "Second Inaugural Address" 1865) 13.3 Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) 13.4 Brown v. Board of Education (1954) 13.5 Richard M. Valelly, "Institutions and Enfranchisement" (2004) 13.6 Desmond King and Rogers Smith, "Racial Orders in American Political Development" (2005) 14. Government, the Economy, and Domestic Policy 14.1 Alexander Hamilton, "Report on Manufactures" (1791) 14.2 Joseph Schumpeter, "The Process of Creative Destruction" (1942) 14.3 Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "Call For Federal Responsibility" (1932); "Message to Congress on Social Security" (1935) 14.4 John W. Kingdon, "American Public Policy in Comparative Perspective" (1999) 14.5 Benjamin I. Page and James R. Simmons, "American Public Policy in Comparative Perspective." (2000) 14.6 Theda Skocpol, "America’s First Modern Social Policies and Their Legacies" (1992) 15. America’s Place in a Dangerous World 15.1 Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, "The Pacificus-Helvidius Debate" (1793) 15.2 George Washington, "Farewell Address" (1796) 15.3 Alexis de Tocqueville, "Why Democratic Nations Naturally Desire Peace, and Democratic Armies, War" (1840) 15.4 Bartholomew H. Sparrow, "Limited Wars and the Attenuation of the State" (2002) 15.5 Joseph Nye, "The Paradox of American Power" (2002) 15.6 Walter Russell Mead, "America’s Sticky Power" (2004)

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