In Democracy in America (1835) the Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville interpreted American society through the lens of democratic political theory. A half-century later the Scotsman James Bryce examined “the institutions and the people of America as they are.” Bryce presented his findings in The American Commonwealth, first published in London in three volumes in 1888. This new Liberty Fund two-volume edition is based on the updated third edition of 1941, which encompassed all the changes, corrections, and additions that Bryce entered into the previous editions. Its expanded appendix includes Bryce’s 1887 essay, “The Predictions of Hamilton and De Tocqueville,” and contemporaneous (1889) reviews of The American Commonwealth by Woodrow Wilson and Lord Acton.
When The American Democrat was first published in 1838, Cooper’s position as America’s first major novelist obscured his serious contribution to the discussion of American principles and politics.
The American Nation: Primary Sources resumes the narrative begun in its companion volume, The American Republic, which covered the first eight decades of U.S. history, ending at the onset of the Civil War. The American Nation continues the story through America’s entrance into World War II.
This selection of essays, pamphlets, speeches, and letters to newspapers written between 1760 and 1805 by American political and religious leaders illuminate the founding of the republic. Many selections are obscure pieces that were previously available only in larger research libraries, but all illuminate the founding of the American republic and are essential reading for students and teachers of American political thought. The second volume includes an annotated bibliography of five hundred additional items for future reference.
Many reference works offer compilations of critical documents covering individual liberty, local autonomy, constitutional order, and other issues that helped to shape the American political tradition. Yet few of these works are available in a form suitable for classroom use, and traditional textbooks give short shrift to these important issues.
The Anti-Federalist Writings of the Melancton Smith Circle makes available for the first time a one-volume collection of Anti-Federalist writings that are commensurate in scope, significance, political brilliance, and depth with The Federalist. Included in this volume as an appendix is a computational and contextual analysis that addresses the question of the authorship of two of the most well-known pseudonymous Anti-Federalist writings, namely, Essays of a Federal Farmer and Essays of Brutus. Also included are the records of Smith’s important speeches at the New York Ratifying Convention, some shorter writings of Smith’s from the ratification debate, and a set of private letters Smith wrote on constitutional subjects at the time of the ratification struggle.
This discussion of the social order of an agricultural republic is Taylor’s most popular and influential work. It includes materials on the relation of agriculture to the American economy, on agriculture and politics, and on the enemies of the agrarian republic. Both statesman and farmer, Taylor is often considered the deepest thinker of all the early Virginians.
The writings of James Otis arguably had more influence in America and England before 1774 than those of any other American except John Dickinson. John Adams pointed to Otis as the first man to have plumbed the depths of the argument between Britain and the Anglo-American colonies. Anyone who wishes to understand the American Revolution, the American founding, and American political thought would benefit greatly from reading Otis’s political writings.
This two-volume set brings together a collection of writings and speeches of James Wilson, one of only six signers of both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, and one of the most influential members of the federal Constitutional Convention in 1787.
Roger Sherman (1721–1793) was the only founder to sign the Articles of Association, the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution. He served 1,543 days in the Continental Congress and was a member of the five-man committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence.
This landmark collection of eighty documents created by the American colonists—and not English officials—is the genesis of American fundamental law and constitutionalism. Included are all documents attempting to unite the colonies, beginning with the New England Confederation of 1643.
Fresh from a battle against monarchy, the American Founders were wary of a strong executive, but they were equally conscious that unchecked legislative power risked all the excesses of democracy. Creating an effective executive who did not dominate the legislative body posed a significant challenge. In The Creation of the Presidency, 1775–1789, Charles Thach’s lucid analysis reveals how these conflicting concerns shaped the writing of the Constitution and the early clarification of executive powers.