This book investigates the creation of the first truly nationalized party organizations in the United States in the late nineteenth century, an innovation that reversed the parties' traditional privileging of state and local interests in nominating campaigns and the conduct of national campaigns. Between 1880 and 1896, party elites crafted a defense of these national organizations that charted the theoretical parameters of American party development into the twentieth century. With empowered national committees and a new understanding of the parties' role in the political system, national party leaders dominated American politics in new ways, renewed the parties' legitimacy in an increasingly pluralistic and nationalized political environment, and thus maintained their relevance throughout the twentieth century. The new organizations particularly served the interests of presidents and presidential candidates, and the little-studied presidencies of the late nineteenth century demonstrate the first stirrings of modern presidential party leadership.

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