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David Rothman intensively analyzes the history of the United States Senate in the years following the Civil War, a period traditionally accepted as the zenith of corruption in American life. The author concludes that an undue emphasis on the failings of the time has obscured a significant phase in the history of free institutions in America. During this era, the Senate underwent a radical transformation: it assumed its modern form. Party leadership and machinery took on their contemporary importance. This vital alteration, its causes and implications, supplies the theme of his study.