Cover: To Make a Nation: The Rediscovery of American Federalism, from Harvard University PressCover: To Make a Nation in PAPERBACK

To Make a Nation

The Rediscovery of American Federalism

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Product Details


$50.00 • £40.95 • €45.00

ISBN 9780674893184

Publication Date: 07/15/1998


496 pages

6-1/4 x 9-1/4 inches

Belknap Press


A vigorous account of the American founders.—Cass Sunstein, The New Republic

[An] engaging account of the origins of federalism… Beer’s impressive study demonstrates how much received wisdom about politics was called into question by those who supported the ratification of the Constitution… At a moment when the public conversation is sometimes more acrimonious than enlightened, Beer provides a needed reminder that our unique promise as a people lies in the hope that we might find ways to use our remarkable diversity to make our nation ‘more of a nation.’—James Schmidt, The Boston Globe

The extraordinary intellectual breadth and analytical depth of Sam Beer’s academic work fully warrants his standing as one of America’s most distinguished political scientists. In To Make a Nation, he further enhances his scholarly reputation… [This work is] not only enlightening but powerfully suggestive of the capacity of the American political order for regeneration and renewal. America remains a nation in creation and an aspirant idea. Beer shows us why.—Nigel Bowles, International Affairs

Samuel H. Beer is a very distinguished political scientist, whose most important earlier work centered on British politics. Here he turns to the study of American origins, with a particular eye to the subject announced in this subtitle, American Federalism… This effort leads him on a wide-ranging foray into intellectual history, tracing the theory of deferential politics through Thomas Aquinas, the old Tories in England, and the British rulers of America in the eighteenth century… Beer’s book is too good and too rich to capture in a brief review, and it needs to be read by all interested in the wide range of topics on which it touches.—Michael P. Zuckert, Journal of American History

In a brilliant exploration of history, starting with Thomas Aquinas and continuing through the Framers’ views, Beer seeks to demonstrate that federalism need not be viewed solely as a conservative or regressive concept… Beer has made a major contribution to the literature on the subject… If one reads his book looking to gain a better understanding of the origins of American federalism, the book is a tremendous success. It is clearly written, impeccably documented, and extremely persuasive. Moreover, if one wants to refute conservatives’ claims that the origins of the doctrine justify their view of federalism, Beer’s book is invaluable… [A] masterful new book.—Erwin Chemerinsky, Michigan Law Review

A powerful and persuasive exposition…[and] a brilliant statement in support of the national idea in American federalism.—Kenneth A. Graham, New England Quarterly

Beer’s central concern is to refute the idea that the Union was a creation of the states. Rather, he demonstrates, the creation of the Union preceded the establishment of the individual states. This is an issue which has always been contentious and remains so. The case being made here is argued with vigour and with great learning. This book is the product of a long life studying the subject… It is a splendid contribution to the debate about the origins of American federalism.—R. L. Borthwick, Regional and Federal Studies

This is Beer’s magnum opus, the work which draws together his incomparable knowledge, gained over sixty years of study, of American and British political theory and historical practice.—Patrick Riley, University of Wisconsin

Awards & Accolades

  • 2002 Martha Derthick Award, Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations Section of the American Political Science Association
  • 1994 Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award
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