THE PRICE OF UNION by Herbert Agar


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When Agar writes of American democracy, he writes against the background of his memorable list of publications which include Land of the Free, People's Choice, Time for Greatness, three books vital to our understanding. Now comes The Price of Union, an assessment of the formulation of the pattern of the U.S.A. from the angle of the costs we face for our brand of democracy, for its survival in our party system as a unifying influence. While ""the price of union"" is high -- it is a small price against the price of disunion. He traces the failures of efforts to stem the tide of what really amounts to Calhoun's principle of concurrent majorities,- failures of states rights, of congressional government of senatorial oligarchy, etc. Except for the Civil War, our system produced consolidation in times of crisis; decentralization, with acceptance of delays, evasions and compromises, in quiet times. In the course of a long and tightly reasoned book, he analyses each presidential term, the incumbent and his contribution or failure, other dominant personalities in the American scene, successive influences and forces as the constitution developed its techniques, as the cabinet system, the committee system, the party system, were added; as territorial expansion, industrial revolution, foreign and domestic policy, wars, boundary disputes, panics, labor unions, immigration, urbanization -- and all the concomitants -- played their part. Here are 160 years of American history (in detail up to 1909- in brief survey of main currents thereafter), tracing the growth of a unique political system. An important book for students of history; not easy reading for the layman.

Pub Date: March 9th, 1949
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin