A Case for ‘republicanism’ Before Lincoln (an R1 APD)

APD stands for “American Political Development.” I study American Political Culture in general, yet to accomplish culture research I must know a great deal about political developments and political institutions (what we politically observe, and have observed). All of the former links are “loaded” technical terms which often showcase “parts” of political science, and the job of the political scientist is to be careful to remember the whole while examining his or her part.

American political scientists talk a lot about liberalism. R1 stands for “republicanism in the first order.” As a researcher, I presented (with Jeff Grynaviski) a paper on “The Senate and American Federalism Revisited: The Doctrine of Instruction before the Civil War” (link). It was a lecture on American republicanism during the antebellum era. This might seem like ancient history, yet as political scientists know very well, culture is often a sticking point and republicanism has stuck around. Here is the PowerPoint to that 12 minute lecture (link). It was a great experience.

I basically talked about discovering the contents of over 2,000 “instructions” as located in the Senate Journal. As a form of “republican” governance (development, institutions, culture), the state legislatures, or the people in convention, were able to pass a “resolution of instruction” for the U.S. Senator from said state to introduce to the Senate Floor. On the one hand, a famous political scientist determined in the 1950s that “resolutions” were seemingly rare (circa 20) and spiked in the 1830s. On the other hand, 2,000 is a lot heavier than 20, and resolutions [more accurately] spiked after the 1830s too.

The Point: “It is hard to imagine state legislatures passing instructions to Senators calling on them to pursue land grants for schools or to move a federal land office from one town to another in order to embarrass. These resolutions are better understood as pertaining to things that state legislatures wanted from the General Government and their Senators were agents on their behalf seeking to satisfy those wishes. The decade with the highest recorded number of instruction was the 1850s.”

In Sum: Political scientists should be careful to remember that there probably is some republican determinant (exogenous or direct agency and power) impacting / sustaining their research agenda, if and when on American politics!

Please write comments on paper or PowerPoint in the discussion section below. Thanks!



One thought on “A Case for ‘republicanism’ Before Lincoln (an R1 APD)

  1. Pingback: “Right to Work” Wins on Two Counts | Political Pipeline

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