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The Framers' IntentionsThe Framers' Intentions

The Myth of the Nonpartisan Constitution

Robert E. Ross

Narrated by Kevin Moriarty

Available from Audible


Book published by University of Notre Dame Press


Robert Ross addresses a fascinating and unresolved constitutional question: why did political parties emerge so quickly after the framers designed the Constitution to prevent them? The text of the Constitution is silent on this question. Most scholars of the subject have taken that silence to be a hostile one, arguing that the adoption of the two-party system was a significant break from a long history of antiparty sentiments and institutional design aimed to circumscribe party politics.

The constitutional question of parties addresses the very nature of representation, democracy, and majority rule. Political parties have become a vital institution of representation by linking the governed with the government. Efforts to uphold political parties have struggled to come to terms with the apparent antiparty sentiments of the founders and the perception that the Constitution was intended to work against parties.

The Framers’ Intentions connects political parties and the two-party system with the Constitution in a way that no previous account has, thereby providing a foundation for parties and a party system within American constitutionalism. This book will appeal to readers interested in political parties, constitutional theory, and constitutional development.

Robert E. Ross is assistant professor of political science at Utah State University and a contributor to Hatred of America’s Presidents.

REVIEWS:

“I found this to be an engaging text on the rise of political parties in early America. The entire book is thoroughly researched, and Robert Ross has clearly immersed himself in the literature. I believe that this book, although it analyzes political battles from over two hundred years ago, can speak to the American people in this era when we are so divided.”

—William Bolt, Francis Marion University

“Robert Ross challenges the received wisdom on the relationship between the Constitution and political parties. He shows that political parties became deeply entrenched in a constitutional order that was initially intended to work against them. He details how over the course of American political development the Constitution acquired new elements and interpretations that served to strengthen political parties. This book is a must read for scholars of political parties and of American political development.”

—Marc Landy, Boston College

“Robert Ross has provided us with a provocative argument that contradicts scholarly wisdom regarding the emergence of a two-party system in the early American republic. Ross’s interpretation that the founders were not fighting against parties but rather manipulating their development as legitimate tools is a genuine contribution to the literature for both historians and political scientists.”

—John Belohlavek, University of South Florida





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