- Series: Constitution in Congress
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 2nd ed. edition (May 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226131173
- ISBN-13: 978-0226131177
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,600,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Constitution in Congress: The Jeffersonians, 1801-1829 2nd ed. Edition
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From the Inside Flap
Having examined the Federalist period in the previous volume, Currie now turns to the period of Republican hegemony from the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson in 1801 to the inauguration of Andrew Jackson in 1829. During this time Republicans, mostly Virginians, occupied the President's House, and their party dominated Congress. Many benchmark issues were decided during this time of great leadership and controversy-the abolition of the new Circuit Courts, the Louisiana Purchase, the Burr conspiracy, the War of 1812, the Monroe Doctrine, and the Missouri Compromise. These issues, and many others, became constitutional controversies, as politicians sought to apply the broad principles laid out in the constitution to concrete, often unforeseen, events. As Currie shows, they were fought out almost exclusively in the legislative and executive arenas, not in the courts.
Although federal judges began to contribute more significantly to the interpretation of the constitution, their decisions were commonly based on the extensive discussions that had taken place in the legislative and executive branches. "And even today," Currie writes, "it is not to the courts that we owe our understanding of the constitutional issues surrounding the Louisiana Purchase, the impeachment of Justice Chase, or the Cumberland Road."
With its unique perspective and comprehensive coverage, The Constitution in Congress illustrates how the executive and legislative branches matched the Supreme Court in putting flesh and blood onto the skeleton of the Constitution.
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Top customer reviews
These days, we tend to think that only the Courts resolve Constitutional issues, but Professor Currie reminds us that many substantial Constitutional decisions never reached the Courts, but were resolved by Congress. Each book takes us through major events of the era and points out the differences of opinion in Congress as to how the US Constitution applied to the issue at hand. It is interesting from both a historical perspective and from a problem-solving perspective; would you have thought of the arguments posed by both sides and how would you have voted if you were in Congress at the time?
I highly recommend this book to readers interested in either American history or Constitutional analysis.
"The Constitution in Congress - The Jeffersonians" is best described by Professor Currie's own words:
"It was a time of great events that engendered great controversy; the abolition of the new Circuit Courts, the impeachments of Judge Pickering and Justice Chase, the Louisiana Purchase, the Burr conspiracy, the Embargo, the War of 1812, the Cumberland Road, the Missouri Compromise, the Monroe Doctrine. All of these controversies, and many others of the time, became in part constitutional controversies. And they were fought out almost exclusively in the legislature and executive branches, not in the courts." (Preface, page xii)
"What a cornucopia - of constitutional controversies we never knew had arisen, of constitutional arguments we never knew had been made. And what we have come across is by no means of merely antiquarian interest; as I have said before, it is striking how much of it is directly relevant to controversies of the present day. (Conclusion, page 344)
"Constitutional questions that are worth disputing have no answers. Look rather for insights, for wisdom, for guidance, for the raw materials that inform judgment and you will not be disappointed. For constitutional interpretation is a matter of informed judgment, and there is nothing like the extrajudicial debates of the early years to inform our judgment as to what the Constitution means." (Conclusion, page 345)