Modern history

The Paradox of Power: Statebuilding in America, 1754-1920

The Paradox of Power: Statebuilding in America, 1754-1920

America’s political history is a fascinating paradox. The United States was born with the admonition that government posed a threat to liberty. This apprehension became the foundation of the nation’s civic ideology and was embedded in its constitutional structure. Yet the history of public life in the United States records the emergence of an enormously powerful national state during the nineteenth century. By 1920, the United States was arguably the most powerful country in the world. In The Paradox of Power Ballard C. Campbell traces this evolution and offers an explanation for how it occurred.

Campbell argues that the state in America is rooted in the country’s colonial experience and analyzes the evidence for this by reviewing governance at all levels of the American polity—local, state, and national—between 1754 and 1920. Campbell poses five critical causal references: war, geography, economic development, culture and identity (including citizenship and nationalism), and political capacity. This last factor embraces law and constitutionalism, administration, and political parties. The Paradox of Power makes a major contribution to our understanding of American statebuilding by emphasizing the fundamental role of local and state governance to successfully integrate urban, state, and national governments to create a composite and comprehensive portrait of how governance evolved in America.


Chapter 1. The Dynamics of American Statebuilding

Part I: Colonial Times through the Civil War and Reconstruction

Chapter 2. Rise of the Little Republics

Chapter 3. Forging a National State

Chapter 4. Geographic and Economic Expansion

Chapter 5. Nationalism and Public Policy

Chapter 6. The Dynamics of Antebellum Governance

Chapter 7. The Civil War Builds New States

Part II: The Gilded Age through World War I and the 1920s

Chapter 8. Social and Economic Transformations

Chapter 9. Nationalism, Parties, and the Coercive State, 1870–1917

Chapter 10. The Federal State during the Gilded Age

Chapter 11. The Progressive State

Chapter 12. The Wartime State

Chapter 13. The End of the Long Nineteenth Century



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