Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Pg. 99: Christian Fritz's "American Sovereigns"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Christian Fritz's American Sovereigns: The People and America's Constitutional Tradition Before the Civil War.

About the book, from the publisher:
American Sovereigns is a path-breaking interpretation of America's political history and constitutionalism that explores how Americans struggled over the idea that the people would rule as the sovereign after the American Revolution. National and state debates about government action, law, and the people's political powers reveal how Americans sought to understand how a collective sovereign-the people-could both play the role as the ruler and yet be ruled by governments of their own choosing.
Among the early praise for American Sovereigns:

"This is a superb and radical book, radical in the sense that it goes to the roots of the American constitutional tradition, pushes aside the crusty generations of constitution worship that have enshrined the federal constitution as a fixed, settled and static resolution of the nation's constitutional tradition and complicates matters enormously."
--Ronald Formisano, University of Kentucky, Lexington

"Professor Fritz’s American Sovereigns tells a complicated story of constitutional development from the period of the Revolution to the Civil War. It is not a conventional account that takes its beginning from 1787 and a focus on the Federal Constitution; rather it offers an intimate account of change that reckons with the extraordinary role of the people as sovereigns. To be sure, Fritz discusses many questions that usually enter accounts of constitutions, but he gives these questions an unusual twist, and adds a fresh perspective through analysis of state constitutions, federal action with constitutional meanings; popular behavior in extraordinary events such as the Whiskey Rebellion and the Rhode Island crisis. In all of this intricate story, the people as sovereigns, a much contested proposition — as he demonstrates — serves to give his study its coherence. His book is not only a revisionist account; it is a beautifully written piece of history that illuminates a supremely important field."
-- Robert Middlekauff, University of California, Berkeley

Read an excerpt from American Sovereigns and learn more about the book at the Cambridge University Press website.

Visit Christian G. Fritz's faculty webpage at the University of New Mexico.

The Page 99 Test: American Sovereigns.

--Marshal Zeringue