A History of the U.S. Political System

Ideas, Interests, and Institutions

by Richard A. Harris and Daniel J. Tichenor, Editors


Although the United States has followed the same constitution for over 220 years, its political system has always been a work in progress. In just the past few years, a disputed election was resolved by the Supreme Court and, in response to 9/11, our foreign policy has been significantly redefined. How have challenges such as these shaped American politics? What ideas, institutions, and policies have provoked changes in the U.S. political system over time?

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Cover image for A History of the U.S. Political System

December 2009


Pages 1430
Volumes 3
Size 8 1/2x11
Topics Politics, Law, and Government/History

This reference resource combines unique historical analysis, scholarly essays, and primary source documents to explore the evolution of ideas and institutions that have shaped American government and Americans' political behavior.

One of the most active and revealing approaches to research into the American political system is one that focuses on political development, an approach that combines the tools of the political scientist and the historian. A History of the U.S. Political System: Ideas, Interests, and Institutions is the first comprehensive resource that uses this approach to explore the evolution of the American political system from the adoption of the Constitution to the present.

A History of the U.S. Political System is a three-volume collection of original essays and primary documents that examines the ideas, institutions, and policies that have shaped American government and politics throughout its history. The first volume is issues-oriented, covering governmental and nongovernmental institutions as well as key policy areas. The second volume examines America's political development historically, surveying its dynamic government era by era. Volume three is a collection of documentary materials that supplement and enhance the reader's experience with the other volumes.


  • Over 50 contributors, including a mix of distinguished and cutting-edge political scientists and historians
  • Nearly 200 primary sources, including Federalist and Anti-Federalist writings, presidential speeches, and landmark Supreme Court cases
  • Classic engravings and political cartoons aligned with key periods in American political development
  • Tables of presidents and congressional leadership and maps showing electoral votes over time
  • Name and subject indexes for each volume


  • Connects students, researchers, and interested readers with the fastest-growing community of scholars in political science
  • Contributors are a blend of distinguished senior authors and emergent scholars interested in the intersection of politics and history
  • Looks at American political development through the traditional organization of American government texts as well as the interplay of ideas and institutions in key historical periods
  • Emphasizes how the interaction of social movements, parties and organized interests with governmental institutions, and how this interaction has shaped American politics
Author Info

Richard A. Harris, PhD, is professor at Rutgers University-Camden, Camden, NJ, with a joint appointment in political science and public policy and administration. He directs the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs and his published works include Coal Firms Under the New Social Regulation and The Politics of Regulatory Change. He received the Mary Parker Follett Award and the Jack Walker Award from the American Politcal Science Association for work in politics and history and political organizations and parties, respectively.

Daniel J. Tichenor, PhD, is research professor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics and associate professor at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, New Brunswick, NJ. His published works include Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control in America, which won the Gladys Kammerer Prize of the American Political Science Association for the best book in public policy. He is also the author of Faustian Bargains: The Origins and Development of America's Illegal Immigration Dilemma. received the Mary Parker Follett Award and the Jack Walker Award from the American Politcal Science Association for work in politics and history and political organizations and parties, respectively.



"This set is probably best appreciated by academic libraries, although public libraries with a generous political science interest might want to consider."Library Journal

"Overall, this is an impressive collection of essays and documents (there are also occasional black-and-white photos), with advanced vocabulary and ideas."School Library Journal

"This book should be part of every college or university library's reference collection. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers."Choice

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