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Unit 1: What Are the Philosophical and Historical Foundations of the American Political System?

Unit Bibliography

Bailyn, Bernard. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1992. 416pp. ISBN: 978-0-67444-302-0. Winner of the Pulitzer and Bancroft Prizes. Chapters on the sources of colonists? thought and their understanding of the concepts of power and liberty are especially helpful.

Ellis, Joseph J. What Did the Declaration Declare? Boston: Bedford/St. Martin?s, 1999. 110pp. ISBN: 978-0-31219-063-7. Five leading scholars discuss the meaning and larger implications of the Declaration of Independence. ?Questions for Closer Reading? follow each selection. Brief and thought provoking.

Holton, Woody. Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution. New York: Hill and Wong, 2007. 384pp. ISBN: 978-0-80908-061-8. Although a traditional reading of the reason for calling the Philadelphia Convention focuses on the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, Holton maintains that the economic slump of the 1780s was the primary reason. He contends that the decade following the Revolutionary War was as disastrous as the Great Depression of the 1930s. Americans?especially debtors and farm families?blamed state governments for high taxes and tight money. They demanded something be done for their relief. Shays? Rebellion and other protests were one result. The Constitution yielded tremendous economic benefits but, the author argues, they came at a political cost. The Constitution made the national government less responsive to the public than its state-level counterparts.

King, Anthony. The British Constitution. 428pp. ISBN: 978-0-19923-232-1. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007. King begins by answering the question ?What is a constitution?? He then describes and discusses Britain?s traditional constitution. He concludes by looking at ?Britain?s new constitution,? or the great changes and reforms of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Sandoz, Ellis, ed. The Roots of Liberty: Magna Carta, Ancient Constitutions and the Anglo-American Tradition of the Rule of Law. Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 1993. 363pp. ISBN: 978-0-86597-709-9. This collection of essays explores the Magna Carta, the ancient constitution of medieval England, and the contexts in which they developed. It looks for how ideas of liberty and the rule of laws in earlier times came to maturity. It examines how these issues sharpened during the eighteenth-century conflict that led to American independence and the framing of the U.S. Constitution.

Tuck, Richard. Hobbes: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. 168pp. ISBN: 978-0-19280-255-2. A very readable, short account of Hobbes?s life and his work as both a philosopher and a scientist. The book emphasizes the importance of Hobbes not only in the debates of his own time but in the debates of today.

Wood, Gordon. The Creation of the American Republic 1776?1787. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. 675pp. ISBN: 978-0-80784-723-7. Winner of the Bancroft and John H. Dunning Prizes, this book focuses on the ideology of the American Revolution and the influence of the English constitution on the colonists. Part Two, which discusses the period leading up to the Philadelphia Convention, is especially helpful. Wood?s focus on major concepts?social contract, representation, republicanism, and constitutionalism?contribute to the reader?s better understanding of the founding era.