front cover of Boss Rule in the Gilded Age
Boss Rule in the Gilded Age
Matt Quay of Pennsylvania
James A. Kehl
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1981
Matt Quay was called “the ablest politician this country has ever produced.” He served as a United States senator representing Pennsylvania from 1887 to 1904. His career as a Republican Party boss, however, spanned nearly half a century, during which numerous governors and one president owed their election success to his political skills. James A. Kehl was given the first public access to Quay's own papers, and herein presents the inside story of this controversial man who was considered a political Robin Hood for his alleged bribe-taking, misappropriations of funds, and concern for the underprivileged-yet he emerged as the most powerful member of the Republican Party in his state.
[more]

front cover of Estes Kefauver
Estes Kefauver
A Biography
Charles L. Fontenay
University of Tennessee Press, 1980
Reviewed in the United States on December 14, 2009
 
In the 1950s and early 1960s, Estes Kefauver was everywhere in politics and government. He ran for president twice, was the 1956 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, pioneered the use of television in Congressional hearings, and dug deep into many policy areas in the US Senate. Most students of politics or government have seen Kefauver's name, but there is surprisingly little comprehensive treatment of him as an individual and not as a part of a broader campaign, Senate history, or legislation. Charles Fortenay spent years trying to correct this vacancy in political biography. Fortenay's effort began during Kefauver's life, but took twenty-five years to get published and not in the form Fontenay had originally imagined.

But the product is a good one. Fontenay takes us from Kefauver's childhood in Tennessee, to his law career, to his service in the US House, to his campaign for the Senate, his pursuit of the presidency in the 1950s, and his legislative battles up to his early death in 1963. In doing so, Fortenay shows us the many paradoxes of Kefauver. Kefauver was a hard working, not particularly charismatic legislator. But he was also a great retail politician, embarrassing Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson in multiple primaries throughout the 1950s. He was a something of a liberal, but he also looked down at women and was a swing vote on civil rights (To be fair, as a southern senator being a swing vote in civil rights is better than most of his colleagues). Kefauver maintained a close family life despite his active political career, but cheated on his wife fairly openly. Kefauver was ethical and principled (except when it came to monogamy), refusing to cut political deals to win the presidential nomination or keep gifts, but he had a constellation of wealthy friends who paid his personal expenses and bought stock based on the findings of a Congressional investigation.

Any politician, really any person, studied so closely shows some wrinkles. Kefauver is no different. But overall, Kefauver was a hard worker, progressive particularly for his state, and helped democratize the nominating process. In those respects, he is a model for modern senators.

A few nitpicks about the book. First, Fontenay writes that a Congressman Reece died and was replaced by his wife by appointment. Reece's wife won a special election because there are no appointments to fill House vacancies. Second, Fontenay short changes some of Kefauver's policy battles, including presidential succession which is of particular interest to me.

That aside, Fontenay writes a great book. His sources are varied from many personal interviews, to Kefauver's letters, to the biographies of other senators. He manages to balance the many names and personalities and does a particularly good job of explaining the political convention intrigue of the 1950s.

I highly recommend this book to students of politics, government, and history. It fills a void in the literature with the tale of a significant senator of the mid-20th century.
[more]

front cover of Filibustering
Filibustering
A Political History of Obstruction in the House and Senate
Gregory Koger
University of Chicago Press, 2010

In the modern Congress, one of the highest hurdles for major bills or nominations is gaining the sixty votes necessary to shut off a filibuster in the Senate.  But this wasn’t always the case. Both citizens and scholars tend to think of the legislative process as a game played by the rules in which votes are the critical commodity—the side that has the most votes wins. In this comprehensive volume,Gregory Koger shows, on the contrary, that filibustering is a game with slippery rules in which legislators who think fast and try hard can triumph over superior numbers.

Filibustering explains how and why obstruction has been institutionalized in the U.S. Senate over the last fifty years, and how this transformation affects politics and policymaking. Koger also traces the lively history of filibustering in the U.S. House during the nineteenth century and measures the effects of filibustering—bills killed, compromises struck, and new issues raised by obstruction. Unparalleled in the depth of its theory and its combination of historical and political analysis, Filibustering will be the definitive study of its subject for years to come.

[more]

logo for Ohio University Press
The House and Senate in the 1790s
Petitioning, Lobbying, and Institutional Development
Kenneth R. Bowling
Ohio University Press, 2002

Amid the turbulent swirl of foreign intrigue, external and internal threats to the young nation’s existence, and the domestic partisan wrangling of the 1790s, the United States Congress solidified its role as the national legislature. The ten essays in The House and Senate in the 1790s demonstrate the mechanisms by which this bicameral legislature developed its institutional identity. The first essay sets the scene for the institutional development of Congress by examining its constitutional origins and the efforts of the Founders to empower the new national legislature. The five following essays focus on two related mechanisms—petitioning and lobbying—by which citizens and private interests communicated with national lawmakers.

Although scholars tend to see lobbying as a later nineteenth-century development, the papers presented here clearly demonstrate the existence of lobbyists and lobbying in the 1790s. The final four papers examine other aspects of the institutional development of the House and the Senate, including the evolution of political parties and congressional leadership.

The essays in this collection, the third volume in the series Perspectives on the History of Congress, 1789-1801, originated in a series of conferences held by the United States Capitol Historical Society from 1994 to 2001.

[more]

front cover of John A. Logan
John A. Logan
Stalwart Republican from Illinois
James Pickett Jones
Southern Illinois University Press, 2001

logo for Harvard University Press
Julian, Volume II
Orations 6–8. Letters to Themistius, To the Senate and People of Athens, To a Priest. The Caesars. Misopogon
Julian
Harvard University Press

The emperor who renounced Christianity.

Julian (Flavius Claudius Iulianus) “the Apostate,” Roman Emperor, lived AD 331 or 332 to 363. Born and educated in Constantinople as a Christian, after a precarious childhood he devoted himself to literature and philosophy and became a pagan, studying in various Greek cities. In 355 his cousin Emperor Constantius called him from Athens to the court at Milan, entitled him “Caesar,” and made him governor of Gaul. Julian restored Gaul to prosperity and good government after the ravages of the Alamanni (he overthrew them at the battle of Strassburg in 357) and other Germans. Between 357 and 361 Julian’s own soldiers, refusing to serve in the East at Constantius’ orders, nearly involved Julian in war with Constantius—who, however, died in 361, making Julian sole Emperor of the Roman world. He began many reforms and proclaimed universal toleration in religion but pressed for the restoration of the older pagan worships. In 362–363 he prepared at Constantinople and then at Antioch for his expedition against Persia ruled by Shapur II. He died of a wound received in desperate battle.

Julian’s surviving works (lost are his Commentaries on his western campaigns), all in Greek, are given in the Loeb Classical Library in three volumes. The eight Orations (1–5 in Volume I, 6–8 in Volume II) include two in praise of Constantius, one praising Constantius’ wife Eusebia, and two theosophical hymns (in prose) or declamations, of interest for studies in neo-Platonism, Mithraism, and the cult of the Magna Mater in the Roman world. Misopogon (“Beard-hater”), in Volume II, assails the morals of people in Antioch; the Letters (more than eighty), in Volume III, include edicts or rescripts, mostly about Christians, encyclical or pastoral letters to priests, and private letters. Lastly in Volume III are the fragments of the work Against the Galilaeans (the Christians), written mainly to show that evidence for the idea of Christianity is lacking in the Old Testament.

[more]

front cover of Justin Smith Morrill
Justin Smith Morrill
Father of the Land-Grant Colleges
Coy F. Cross II
Michigan State University Press, 1999

Smith Morrill: Almost every land-grant college or university in the United States has a building named for him; but are his contributions truly recognized and understood? Here is the first biography on this renowned statesman in six decades. Representative and then senator from Vermont, Morrill began his tenure in Congress in 1855 and served continuously for forty-three years. His thirty- one years in the upper chamber alone earned him the title "Father of the Senate." Coy F. Cross reveals a complex and influential political figure who, as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and then the Senate Finance Committee, influenced American economic policy for nearly fifty years.  
     Morrill's most-recognized achievements are the pieces of legislation that bear his name: the Morrill land-grant college acts of 1862 and 1890. His legacy, inspired by the Jeffersonian ideal of an educated electorate, revolutionized American higher education. Prior to this legislation, colleges and universities were open primarily to affluent white men and studies were limited largely to medicine, theology, and philosophy. Morrill's land-grant acts eventually opened American higher education to the working class, women, minorities, and immigrants. Since 1862, more than 20 million people have graduated from the 104 land-grant colleges and universities spawned by his grand vision. In this long-overdue study, Cross shows the "Father of Land-Grant Colleges" to be one of America's formative nineteenth- century political figures.

[more]

front cover of Lister Hill
Lister Hill
Statesman from the South
Virginia Van der Veer Hamilton
University of Alabama Press, 2004
"Hamilton makes clear in this intelligent and sensitive biography [that] Hill, whose 45 years in Congress spanned the presidents from Calvin Coolidge to Lyndon Johnson, deserves to be remembered, both for the impressive legislative record he compiled and for the light he shed on southern liberalism in the 20th century." -- Journal of Southern History "Hamilton's fine book is based on extensive research [and] it will be of interest to a general audience as well as to scholars." -- Journal of American History "This is an important work about a highly influential lawmaker." Choice Virginia Van der Veer Hamilton is Professor Emerita of History at The University of Alabama at Birmingham and author of Hugo Black: The Alabama Years.
[more]

front cover of Paul Wellstone
Paul Wellstone
The Life of a Passionate Progressive
Bill Lofy
University of Michigan Press, 2005
"Paul Wellstone, we miss you. Few politicians, especially these days, are as willing to stand up and speak the truth as Wellstone was. In this era of flaccid rhetoric and pre-approved sound bites, he had the rare ability to ignite a fire in his audiences. Bill Lofy's excellent biography rekindles that fire and reminds us just how much politicians of Wellstone's honesty, character, and spine are needed---now more than ever. This book should inspire a new generation of voters and political leaders alike."
---Arianna Huffington, columnist and editor of HuffingtonPost.com

"This book captures the vibrant spirit of my friend Paul Wellstone---the fierce commitment to justice that defined his life, and that shapes his enduring legacy."
---U.S. Senator Russ Feingold

"Paul Wellstone was a great leader because he fused progressive idealism with a stubbornly pragmatic politics. Bill Lofy's book captures that dual commitment in his story of Wellstone's life, and also shows us the extraordinary human appeal that Wellstone emanated in his relationships with people in all walks of life. This book is an engaging read that also tells us a lot about the political practice to which we should aspire."
---Frances Fox Piven, author of The War at Home

"This vividly written book captures the life and personal qualities of the late Senator Paul Wellstone. In so doing it provides an illuminating gloss on Max Weber's seminal exposition of the political vocation. It is a jewel of a book."
-Fred Greenstein, Princeton University


Bill Lofy's fast-paced and readable biography tells the inspirational story of one of the most compelling figures in the history of American politics---Senator Paul Wellstone.

Yet Lofy's book is more than just the chronicle of Wellstone's life and political career; it's also an indispensable guide to what ails political life today. Readers politically inclined or not will find in its pages a handbook to the uncertain and often treacherous business of politics and a stirring example for living a courageous and honest life---whether as public servant or private individual.
[more]

front cover of Philip Hart
Philip Hart
the conscience of the Senate
Michael O'Brien
Michigan State University Press, 1995
Never a fiery orator nor a seeker of headlines, Phil Hart earned after eighteen years in congress the title of "The Conscience of the Senate" from colleauges on both sides of the aisle. Author and sponsor of critical legislation, particulalry in the areas of civil rights, antitrust enforcement, and consumer and and environmental protection, Hart took great pride in the fact that he was a leader in the Senate fight for the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He was intelligent and committed, idealistic and courageous, honest and humble, taking stands on contraversial issues. A role model for many, an inspiration for others, the extent of his influence was demonstrated in the fall of 1976 as he was retiring from the Senate and dying of cancer. In a tribute to his distinguished career, Senator Edward Kennedy suggested that the new Senate building be named after Hart. A bill sponsored by 85 senators passed, and the new structure became the Phil A. Hart Senate Office Building. "Naming it for Phil Hart was a nice gesture," wrote columnist Mary McGrory, "and if they could build his qualities...into the walls, we would have a Senate that would astound the world with its civility and enlightenment."
[more]

front cover of The Politics of Fear
The Politics of Fear
Joseph R. McCarthy and the Senate
Robert W. Griffith
University of Massachusetts Press, 1987
Describes the career of Senator McCarthy and explains how he was able to gain so much influence over the U.S. Senate.
[more]

front cover of Proxmire
Proxmire
Bulldog of the Senate
Jonathan Kasparek
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2019
Proxmire: Bulldog of the Senate is the first comprehensive biography of one of Wisconsin’s most important, and entertaining, political figures. Known for championing consumer-protection legislation and farming interests, Senator Proxmire also fought continuously against wasteful government spending, highlighting the most egregious examples with his monthly “Golden Fleece Award.” Remembered by many Wisconsinites as a friendly, hand-shaking fixture at sporting events and state fairs, Proxmire was one of the few politicians who voted his conscience and never forgot about the people he represented.
[more]

front cover of The Senate and Treaties, 1789-1817
The Senate and Treaties, 1789-1817
The Development of the Treaty-Making Functions of the United States Senate During Their Formative Period
Ralston Hayden, Ph.D.
University of Michigan Press, 1920
In Senate and Treaties, 1789–1817, Ralston Hayden traces the early history of treaty-making within the United States Senate over the course of twenty-five years, beginning with the Senate’s first treaty negotiation. Hayden calls this era the “formative period in the history of the treaty-making functions of the Senate,” during which time the expectations of the Senate’s functions underwent great changes.
[more]

front cover of Sizing Up the Senate
Sizing Up the Senate
The Unequal Consequences of Equal Representation
Frances E. Lee and Bruce I. Oppenheimer
University of Chicago Press, 1999
We take it for granted that every state has two representatives in the United States Senate. Apply the "one person, one vote" standard, however, and the Senate is the most malapportioned legislature in the democratic world.

But does it matter that California's 32 million people have the same number of Senate votes as Wyoming's 480,000? Frances Lee and Bruce Oppenheimer systematically show that the Senate's unique apportionment scheme profoundly shapes legislation and representation. The size of a state's population affects the senator-constituent relationship, fund-raising and elections, strategic behavior within the Senate, and, ultimately, policy decisions. They also show that less populous states consistently receive more federal funding than states with more people. In sum, Lee and Oppenheimer reveal that Senate apportionment leaves no aspect of the institution untouched.

This groundbreaking book raises new questions about one of the key institutions of American government and will interest anyone concerned with issues of representation.
[more]

front cover of Why Not Parties?
Why Not Parties?
Party Effects in the United States Senate
Edited by Nathan W. Monroe, Jason M. Roberts, and David W. Rohde
University of Chicago Press, 2008
Recent research on the U.S. House of Representatives largely focuses on the effects of partisanship, but the strikingly less frequent studies of the Senate still tend to treat parties as secondary considerations in a chamber that gives its members far more individual leverage than congressmen have. In response to the recent increase in senatorial partisanship, Why Not Parties? corrects this imbalance with a series of original essays that focus exclusively on the effects of parties in the workings of the upper chamber.
 
Illuminating the growing significance of these effects, the contributors explore three major areas, including the electoral foundations of parties, partisan procedural advantage, and partisan implications for policy. In the process, they investigate such issues as whether party discipline can overcome Senate mechanisms that invest the most power in individuals and small groups; how parties influence the making of legislation and the distribution of pork; and whether voters punish senators for not toeing party lines. The result is a timely corrective to the notion that parties don’t matter in the Senate—which the contributors reveal is far more similar to the lower chamber than conventional wisdom suggests.
[more]


Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter