Following a discussion of what some scholars have seen as “divided loyalties” among immigrants, this article surveys the history of the ethnic influence on U.S. foreign policy from the 1790s to the present. Specific topics include Irish American nationalism and its relationship to republicanism and anti-imperialism in the nineteenth century, the diverse aims of ethnic activism in the era of World War I, the alleged role of ethnic activism in shaping the isolationism that partly characterized U.S. foreign policy between the wars, and the role of U.S.-based diasporas and ethnic lobbies in the era of the Cold War and after. Attention is given to Irish Americans, Jewish Americans, Cuban Americans, African Americans, Eastern Europeans, and others. The article closes with a discussion of the potential impact of the recent phenomenon of dual citizenship.
This chapter presents a broad overview of the place of Europe and European questions in British political history. It establishes a sense of the historiographical context, considering in turn the ‘new’ political history of recent decades, the histories of party politics, diplomacy and its culture, Europe as Britain’s comparator, British identity, post-war attitudes to European unity, and structural tensions. Reflecting on this contextual framework prompts questions about the chronological parameters we use to assess the last two centuries of interaction with the Continent, not least about the historiographical role of the two world wars, their origins, and their impact. It also raises the issue of the generational phases through which the British polity has passed in its complicated dance with its European neighbours.
This article discusses the evolution of U.S. civil rights and civil liberties through the lens of Supreme Court decisions. It traces the evolution of negative rights against the state and positive liberties from nineteenth-century property rights decisions through early-twenty-first century decisions regarding same-sex marriage. It also traces the shift in the Court’s approach to rights cases from one in which the state is regarded as a threat to individual rights to one in which the state plays a complex role of balancing rights claims. As well, the article demonstrates that rights claims and cases have become more complex as notions of the “public interest” become more contested when the pursuit of general interests has a disproportionate effect on the interests of particular social groups.
Despite current concerns with good governance and policy delivery, little serious attention has been paid to the institution vital to both: the Civil Service. This chapter places present problems in historical context. Starting with the seminal 1854 Northcote–Trevelyan Report, it covers the ‘lost opportunity’ of the 1940s when the Civil Service failed to adapt to rapidly rising demands on the state, as advocated by Beveridge and Keynes. It then examines the belated attempts at modernization in the 1960s, the Service’s vilification in the 1970s, the final destruction of the ‘old order’ during the Thatcher administration, and the subsequent restructuring of the Service and the (highly flawed) embracing of the ‘new public management’ ethos.
This essay begins by examining the establishment of English political systems in the North American colonies in the seventeenth century. It then goes on to look at eighteenth-century developments, and particularly at the conditions that allowed the colonial assemblies to assume increasing importance in colonial government. The final section considers the efforts made by ministers and officials in London to check the power of the assemblies and assert more control from the imperial center. It sheds fresh light on the great constitutional dispute between London and the colonies that formed an important aspect of the American Revolution.
This chapter seeks to bring out the interrelated quality of twentieth century discussions of democracy, drawing especially on debates in the 1930s and 1970s. It locates these within the longer history of the British conversation about democracy, a conversation that was both influenced by discussions elsewhere and informed by comparisons with, and imaginings of, other polities. It starts with an examination of the history of debating democracy in Britain and then turns to the British way of doing democracy. It argues that the former is essential to making sense of the latter. It moves on to consider how the British have done democracy, drawing upon an emerging cultural history of democratic practices. The final section offers thoughts on the prospects for the historiography of democracy in Britain, and on what its development so far says about the state of modern British political history.
Direct democracy was practiced within town meetings in colonial New England, driven by four overarching principles. First, citizens had a political voice as members of a specific geographic community, rather than as individuals. Second, “the mind of the town,” as it was called at the time, could be readily determined through public discourse in meetings of the enfranchised citizenry. Third, this collective will could be relayed to higher governing bodies by issuing specific and binding instructions to elected representatives. Finally, citizens who opposed the mind of the town could be forced to abide by it through community pressure. While the American Revolution elicited its own examples of popular, democratic politics outside of official chambers, the overall trend was in the opposite direction. Formal representational structures generally superseded meetings of the body of the people by liberty trees and liberty polls, county conventions of committees of correspondence, and local committees of safety, inspection, and observation.
Harry L. Watson
The rivalry between the Whig and Democratic Parties, often called the “Second American Party System,” first emerged in Andrew Jackson’s administration (1829–1837). Democrats organized to secure Jackson’s 1828 election, then united behind his program of Indian removal, no federal funding of internal improvements, opposition to the Bank of the United States, defense of slavery, and the “spoils system” that used patronage for party building. Whigs supported Henry Clay’s pro-development American System, sympathized with evangelical reform, and reluctantly accepted Democratic techniques for popular mobilization and party organization. The mature parties competed closely in most states and briefly eased sectional conflict, before splitting in the 1850s over slavery in the territories. Whigs made no presidential nomination in 1856, and the Second Party System disintegrated. As it did, Northern Whigs and antislavery Democrats merged in the Republican Party, southern Whiggery steeply declined, and Democrats survived as the only national party.
This chapter attempts to draw out comparisons and make sense of devolution as a UK-wide phenomenon. Devolution has taken a variety of forms at different times in different parts of the UK. A key aim of the chapter is to describe these varieties and explain why no common form of devolution emerged. Devolution may be a form of constitutional development but it has always been linked to wider socio-demographic and economic developments as much as to the sense of collective identities. Some interpretations emphasize the role of national identity in the demands for devolution in Scotland and Wales while others lay more emphasis on differences in political preferences that stimulated demands for self-government. No understanding of the politics of devolution is complete without an appreciation of the roles of identity, the party systems, political and public policy preferences, and how these changed over time.
John L. Brooke
The twenty-five-year political history of the early American republic, covering the period from the first federal election through the War of 1812, critically shaped the terms and path of American politics over the ensuing two centuries. During this time the United States emerged from the volatility of revolutionary politics to establish the bipolar party structure that has dominated the American political landscape ever since. The central ideological debate over the power of the national government was shaped by classical understandings of politics and by powerfully contested interests. This essay begins with a short chronological summary of the politics of the period, and then turns to the five broad frameworks that historians of the politics of the early republic have addressed over the past half-century: party structure, republican ideology, political culture, slavery, and state-formation.
This chapter falls into two unequal parts. The first charts, broadly chronologically, the shifting understandings, historical and historiographical, of the role of the state in economic life. The second focuses on debates about the performance of the economy, especially notions of ‘decline’ which have been central to those debates since the late nineteenth century. Variegated but overlapping senses of ‘decline’, originating in very specific historical circumstances, have overshadowed much writing on the modern British economy, with, it will be argued, often detrimental effects on our understanding. Such notions need to be historicized—placed firmly in the intellectual, ideological, and above all political contexts within which they arose.
This chapter evaluates the two principal methodologies adopted in studying elections over the past 200 years. The first prominently features ‘psephological’ analyses of aggregate voting data and social cleavages; the second is the revisionist ‘linguistic’ approach, which emphasizes the careful reconstruction and exploration of electoral languages and discourses, often in a specific locality. This chapter argues that, while both approaches have undoubtedly yielded considerable benefits, what was once a large field of scholarly endeavour has been split in two, with the empirical, quantitative tradition now associated with political science on one side and the now dominant cultural and linguistic approaches on the other. The chapter ends by exploring potential new directions and argues that the advent of the ‘digital turn’ and the vast proliferation of electronic sources in its wake now make possible an approach which could see the gap between electoral historians and political scientists begin to close.
Paul Dover and Hamish Scott
This chapter charts the emergence of diplomacy in its modern sense—the peaceful and continuous management of relations between states—during the early modern centuries. It was brought about by two central changes: one functional, the other geographical. The principal roles of an ambassador were providing information, representing his ruler, and conducting negotiations, and these were all established by the sixteenth century. Initially the first two were more important than the third, but by the second half of the period examined the conduct of negotiations had become the most important dimension of a diplomat’s role. The second transformation was an extension of the network of diplomacy, from its origins in the Italian peninsula to Western Europe and—by the eighteenth century—to Eastern Europe as well. These changes were not linear in nature, but collectively they created the diplomatic system and culture which prevailed until the First World War.
Eliga H. Gould
William Augustus Bowles was a loyalist soldier during the American Revolution who also acted as an agent for the British governor of the Bahamas. Had events gone his way, he could have become the Anglo-Creek leader of a British protectorate on North America's Gulf Coast, but instead, was considered a pirate and died in a Havana jail in 1805 while awaiting trial. Bowles's saga shows that the British Empire was not only a formal but also an informal empire. None had a greater stake in understanding how Britain's informal empire worked than the citizens of the thirteen states that gained independence from the British in 1783. It would be more accurate to see the American Revolution as the moment when Americans began to make the history that other nations and people were prepared to let them make. In this entangled history, Britain played the most significant role. Three pillars of its informal empire were commerce, diplomacy, and international law.
James J. Connolly
This chapter traces the ways that ethnic politics evolved in the United States. During the mid-nineteenth century, amid heavy immigration from Europe, ascendant mass parties mobilized newcomers rapidly, spurring nativism. Although the incorporation of immigrants gradually slowed after 1870 and Congress established immigration restriction laws during the 1920s, pluralism remained strong enough to allow the gradual integration of ethnics into the nation’s civic life. The revival of immigration after 1965, chiefly from Latin America and Asia, reinvigorated arguments about ethnic inclusion and nationalism. These debates developed in an altered civic environment, one marked by interest group activism and an emphasis on multiculturalism. Despite these differences, the preponderance of evidence suggests that the incorporation of ethnics during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries proceeded at a pace and in a manner comparable to previous eras.
Wayne J. Urban
This article discusses federal educational policy and provisions, briefly in the nineteenth century and more fully in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It details federal educational activity in the interests of equity and equality, such as desegregation and Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. It concentrates on the negative political reaction that has plagued federal educational activity, especially from conservatives suspicious of federal dominance. It also discusses ways around opposition to federal educational involvement, such as federal sponsorship and encouragement of educational endeavors in para-states and nonfederal institutions such as universities. The discussion also highlights federal educational efforts in various twentieth-century administrations, particularly the Truman, Johnson, Carter, and George W. Bush administrations, but also focuses on congressional legislation during those administrations.
Eileen McDonagh and Danielle M. Thomsen
The trajectory of women’s citizenship over the past two centuries reflects the changing political and cultural landscape at various moments in American history as well as a more constant liberal tradition. Women have made clear gains since the nation’s founding, though the rights granted to women came later than those granted to other groups and women continue to face barriers to political inclusion. Two key factors are women’s social construction as maternalists who are associated with the family, which liberal precepts define as separate and different from the state; and the incompatibility of women’s social construction as maternalists with the liberal American heritage that presumes individuals are equal. To promote their political citizenship, women had to transform the identity of the American state to be an institution similar to, not opposite to, the family, and they had to transform the identity of women so that the public and political elites viewed women not only as maternalists but also legally and constitutionally as individuals who were equal to men. To understand the trajectory of women’s political citizenship requires understanding how it is integrated with their social and civil citizenship as well as how that trajectory intersects with partisan disparities in women’s representation through the policies and platforms parties adopt over the course of American political development.
Christy Ford Chapin
This article reviews the history of the U.S. health care system and important themes in the scholarly literature pertaining to the subject. It argues that understanding the politics of health care, including the structure of government programs such as Medicare, requires careful attention to the private sector’s economic framework. This essay traces the development of modern medicine, health care systems in the 20th century, private health insurance, and federal and state health care policy.
A focus on the national institutions of the British state and the men who populated them was the first means by which many understood ‘political history’. This ‘high politics’ remains a popular way to understand the subject. Yet, ‘high politics’ has also been criticized by radical advocates of ‘history from below’ for its methodological and political conservatism. This chapter assesses the merits of focusing on Westminster, Whitehall, and its denizens by employing insights from political science, notably the notion of structure and agency as well as the literature associated with new institutionalism. The chapter also assesses the contribution of the ‘Peterhouse School’—one long reviled by many high-political historians as well as by historians of popular social movements—as a way of bridging the gap between the two methods of conceiving the dynamics of Britain’s modern political history.
This chapter explores what its author sees as three of the most important, and closely related, recent historiographical themes relating to the articulation but also the impact of British political ideas since 1800: political realities, modernity, and moralities. The chapter analyses the close connections and interplay between these three initially seemingly uncomfortable bedfellows, and argues that collectively they have produced a contemporary historiography that, in crossing boundaries in its consideration of cultural, social, and intellectual history; ideas and action; popular and elite attitudes; high ideals; but also sometimes painful realities, is now richer in its understanding of all of these.