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States' Rights and the Union: Imperium in Imperio, 1776-1876 (American Political Thought (University Press of Kansas)) Paperback – October 24, 2000
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You *will* be taught in your history classes about "checks and balances" in the US Constitution, but you will be taught that those checks and balances consist largely of the division of power between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government. Only a moment's reflection, though, will reveal that those branches are still all part of the same government. McDonald demonstrates conclusively that the founding fathers viewed another check and balance as critical to the limitation on growth in federal power -- states' rights. The states, as distinct sovereignties, *delegated* certain powers to the federal government and retained all other powers to themselves (c.f., 10th Amendment).
This book ends its study in 1876, the end of Reconstruction, when the Second Founding became complete -- a founding destitute of any vestige of states' rights, in which federal power would be free to grow unchecked.
Outstanding summary of key issues in American constitutionalism.
As an aspiring college history professor, I will definately not recommend this book to my students or use any of it in my lectures/reading.