Rogan Kersh Dreams of a More Perfect Union

ISBN 13: 9780801438127

Dreams of a More Perfect Union

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9780801438127: Dreams of a More Perfect Union
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In a brilliantly conceived and elegantly written book, Rogan Kersh investigates the idea of national union in the United States. For much of the period between the colonial era and the late nineteenth century, he shows, "union" was the principal rhetorical means by which Americans expressed shared ideals and a common identity without invoking strong nationalism or centralized governance. Through his exploration of how Americans once succeeded in uniting a diverse and fragmented citizenry, Kersh revives a long-forgotten source of U.S. national identity.

Why and how did Americans perceive themselves as one people from the early history of the republic? How did African Americans and others at the margins of U.S. civic culture apply this concept of union? Why did the term disappear from vernacular after the 1880s? In his search for answers, Kersh employs a wide range of methods, including political-theory analysis of writings by James Madison, Frederick Douglass, and Abraham Lincoln and empirical analysis drawing on his own extensive database of American newspapers. The author's findings are persuasive--and often surprising. One intriguing development, for instance, was a strong resurgence of union feelings among Southerners--including prominent former secessionists--after the Civil War.

With its fascinating and novel approach, Dreams of a More Perfect Union offers valuable insights about American political history, especially the rise of nationalism and federalism. Equally important, the author's close retracing of the religious, institutional, and other themes coloring the development of unionist thought unveils new knowledge about the origination and transmittal of ideas in a polity.

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From the Inside Flap:

"For two centuries, Americans have pursued the idea of forming the 'more perfect union' that our Constitution proposes. Rogan Kersh's inquiry into the changing forms this pursuit has taken is the closest thing we now have to a more perfect intellectual and political history of this central concept of American nationhood."--Jack Rakove, Stanford University

"In this extraordinary book, Rogan Kersh discovers a lost theme running through American history and he manages to do so with elegance, wit, and polish. This book is big: Dreams of a More Perfect Union will vault Kersh into the elite ranks of the politics and history crowd."--James Morone, Brown University

"Dreams of a More Perfect Union brilliantly intertwines the agendas of history, the study of political development, and political theory. This will be an extremely important book for historians and political scientists alike."--David Waldstreicher, University of Notre Dame

About the Author:

Rogan Kersh is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.

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9780801489808: Dreams of a More Perfect Union

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ISBN 10:  0801489806 ISBN 13:  9780801489808
Publisher: Cornell University Press, 2004
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