The Idea of a Party System by Richard Hofstadter
The Rise of Legitimate Opposition in the United States, 1780-1840 (Jefferson Memorial Lecture Series)

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This work traces the historical processes in thought by which American political leaders slowly edged away from their complete philosophical rejection of a party and hesitantly began to embrace a party system. In the author's words, "The emergence of legitimate party opposition and of a theory of politics that accepted it was something new in the history of the world; it required a bold new act of understanding on the part of its contemporaries and it still requires study on our part." Professor Hofstadter's analysis of the idea of party and the development of legitimate opposition offers fresh insights into the political crisis of 1797-1801, on the thought of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Martin Van Buren, and other leading figures, and on the beginnings of modern democratic politics.
 

About Richard Hofstadter

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DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University from 1959 until the time of his death, Richard Hofstadter was one of the most influential historians in post--World War II America. His political, social, and intellectual histories raised serious questions about assumptions that had long been taken for granted and cast the American experience in an interesting new light. His 1948 work, The American Political Tradition, is an enduring classic study in political history. His 1955 work, The Age of Reform, which still commands respect among both historians and general readers, won him that year's Pulitzer Prize. A measure of Hofstadter's standing in literary and scholarly circles is the honors he received in 1964 for Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963)---Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction, the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize of Phi Beta Kappa, and the Sidney Hillman Prize Award. Hofstadter's greatest talent, however, may have been his ability to order complex events and issues and to synthesize from them a rational, constructively critical perspective on American history.
 
Published July 1, 1970 by University of California Press. 304 pages
Genres: History.

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On subjects like Washington's Farewell Address, the XYZ affair, the 1800 election (first peaceful transfer of governing power in modern history, he stresses), Hofstadter has much to offer the general reader in history (these were originally Jefferson Memorial Lectures).

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