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A Machine That Would Go of Itself : The Constitution in American Culture - Michael Kammen

A Machine That Would Go of Itself

The Constitution in American Culture

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Published: 15th June 2006
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In this volume, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Michael Kammen explores the U.S. Constitution's place in the public consciousness and its role as a symbol in American life, from ratification in 1788 to our own time.

As he examines what the Constitution has meant to the American people (perceptions and misperceptions, uses and abuses, knowledge and ignorance), Kammen shows that although there are recurrent declarations of reverence most of us neither know nor fully understand our Constitution. How did this gap between ideal and reality come about? To explain it, Kammen examines the complex and contradictory feelings about the Constitution that emerged during its preparation and that have been with us ever since. He begins with our confusion as to the kind of Union we created, especially with regard to how much sovereignty the states actually surrendered to the central government. This confusion is the source of the constitutional crisis that led to the Civil War and its aftermath. Kammen also describes and analyzes changing perceptions of the differences and similarities between the British and American constitutions; turn-of-the-century debates about states' rights versus national authority; and disagreements about how easy or difficult it ought to be to amend the Constitution. Moving into the twentieth century, he notes the development of a "cult of the Constitution" following World War I, and the conflict over policy issues that persisted despite a shared commitment to the Constitution.

"Michael Kammen's brilliant book is the most helpful contribution to the emerging Bicentennial [of the federal Constitution of 1787] thus far because it demythologizes the Constitution in a responsible manner.... This is a very important book" - Stanley N. Katz, Washington Post "Michael Kammen has focused his vast learning and erudition on the cultural impact of the American Constitution. The result is unique, refreshing, and highly rewarding." - Stanley I. Kutler, American Historical Review"

Introduction to the Transaction Editionp. xi
List of Illustrationsp. ix
Forethoughtsp. xvii
Acknowledgmentsp. xxvii
The Problem of Constitutionalism in American Culturep. 3
The Most Wonderful Instrument Ever Drawn by the Hand of Man
To Make the Constitution a Practical Systemp. 43
All That Gives Us a National Characterp. 68
The Constitution Threatens to Be a Subject of Infinite Sectsp. 95
A Machine That Would Go of Itself
On This Day, One Hundred Years Agop. 127
The American and the British Constitution Are Two Entirely Different Thingsp. 156
The Crisis in Constitutionalismp. 185
America Is Always Talking About Its Constitution
God Knows How Dearly We Need a Constitutional Revivalp. 219
Decisions Are Politics When Constitutional Questions Are Up for Decisionp. 255
My God! Making a Racket out of the Constitutionp. 282
The Pendulum of Public Opinion
Illegal Defiance of Constitutional Authorityp. 315
Our Bill of Rights Is Under Subtle and Pervasive Attackp. 336
The Public Got Strange and Distorted Views of the Court and Its Rulingsp. 357
It's What Holds Us All Togetherp. 381
A Note on the Sourcesp. 403
A Supplementary Note on Iconographyp. 405
"A Constitution for the New Deal"p. 407
Abbreviationsp. 411
Notesp. 413
Indexp. 509
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781412805834
ISBN-10: 141280583X
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 578
Published: 15th June 2006
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2  x 3.68
Weight (kg): 0.93
Edition Type: New edition