Where can I find good information about early United States politics?
I am getting fascinated on the early politics in the United States (roughly from independence to 1820 or so), where there seemed to be deep disagreement among different factions (say, Hamilton vs Jefferson) along with the difference between different colonies and the influence / fights with France and Britain.
What are some good sources (books, online, etc.) to learn more about that part of the history?
- ?Lv 41 decade agoFavorite Answer
I'd start with Gordon S. Wood's The Radicalism of the American Revolution, which sets the stage for the period of your interest. Wood's point is that the American Revolution destroyed the very aristocratic society from which the Revolution itself sprung, leaving a society in which the interests and prosperity of ordinary people was the goal of government.
Then, The Federalist Papers, of course.
Followed up by an old book, Herbert J. Storing's What the Anti-Federalists Were For. Notwithstanding ratification of the Constitution, strains of anti-Federalist concerns and principles not only permeated the entire pre-Jackson era, they are detectable even today in both major parties' platforms.
Storing believed the Federalists prevailed because they had better ideas and arguments. For example, Storing argues that anti-Federalist urgings for a small republic were inconsistent with American expectations that the republic would someday stretch from sea to shining sea.
Another old book, The Federalist Era: 1780-1801, by John C. Miller is an outstanding account of the actual creation of the Union as a working organization and the inevitable clashes among the men that surrounded Washington and Adams.
Gordon S. Wood’s Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different (2006) is an easy to read account of the founders and their doings.
Henry Brooks Adams’s two-volume History of the United States During the Administration of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (1889–1891) is a good choice for coverage 1800 through 1817. Despite Adams's family relations with then-active politicians, his work is considered scrupulously fair.
Biographies of Adams (Joseph J. Ellis’s Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams (1993), or the recent John Adams (2002) by David McCullough), Jefferson (Dumas Malone’s Jefferson and His Time, 6 vols. (1948–82) is a comprehensive, though maybe a little too sympathetic, treatment), and Andrew Jackson (Robert V. Remini’s The Life of Andrew Jackson (1988) or his Andrew Jackson and the Course of American Empire, 1767-1821 (1977) are good choices).
If you want to take this on on the light, try Storings’s Anti-Federalists and Wood’s Revolutionary Charactors, both of which are short and Wood’s book, especially, is easy to read.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
The details of your question indicates that you're looking more for domestic policy, but the domestic politics of that time period were greatly influenced by the US's foreign policy, not too mention the need to establish a viable country that can stand on its own. As such, it might worth checking out the following two books, both of which do not pertain just to your specified time period but cover general themes throughout US history, which usually originated in your time frame.
LaFeber, Walter. The American Age: US Foreign Policy at Home and Abroad 1750 to the Present. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1994.
Merrill, Dennis, ed., and Thomas G. Paterson, ed. Major Problems in American Foreign Relations: Concise Edition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006.
This last book is more of a collection of primary documents, but each chapter concludes with essays taking on different perspectives of the corresponding issues raised in that chapter. This might be helpful to you to see both the primary sources (a limited amount and mostly excerpts) as well as the opposing policy points of view found in both the documents and the analytical essays.
I hope this helps in some way.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
The best I’ve read in this area is a book called The Age of Federalism, by McKittrick and Elkins. Very comprehensive, very detailed. If you’re looking for something that is a bit more story oriented, look for Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis, which covers many of these same issues.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
America: The Last Best Hope (Volume I): From the Age of Discovery to a World at War (Paperback)
by William J. Bennett
My son, who's a history buff, says Bennett spends a lot of time on the Presidents and found this book an easy read.
You might like this as well
New Party Politics: From Jefferson and Hamilton to the Information Age (Paperback)
by John Kenneth White
"The main strength of this book is the historical approach, which helps students understand how different party organization/campaigning is today relative to the past."
"It introduces students to an important and useful slice of democratic theory in a non-threatening manner."
"The greatest strengths of the text are 1) its integration of historical themes with a reevaluation of political science theory, 2) its clear and accessible prose, and 3) its attention to providing web sources and reading lists to assist with future research."
"New Party Politics provides historical backgrounds, theoretical debates, and timely examples. . . . The chapters are lively and engaging, they keep the readers' attention with thought-provoking questions. Most importantly, the chapters are not overly-long. They are "bite-size" and can be read in one sitting."
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- ErikaLv 43 years ago
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- 1 decade ago
how about a book?