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Statebuilding from the Margins

Between Reconstruction and the New Deal

Edited by Carol Nackenoff and Julie Novkov

Publication Year: 2014

The period between the Civil War and the New Deal was particularly rich and formative for political development. Beyond the sweeping changes and national reforms for which the era is known, Statebuilding from the Margins examines often-overlooked cases of political engagement that expanded the capacities and agendas of the developing American state. With particular attention to gendered, classed, and racialized dimensions of civic action, the chapters explore points in history where the boundaries between public and private spheres shifted, including the legal formulation of black citizenship and monogamy in the postbellum years; the racial politics of Georgia's adoption of prohibition; the rise of public waste management; the incorporations of domestic animal and wildlife management into the welfare state; the creation of public juvenile courts; and the involvement of women's groups in the creation of U.S. housing policy. In many of these cases, private citizens or organizations initiated political action by framing their concerns as problems in which the state should take direct interest to benefit and improve society.

Statebuilding from the Margins depicts a republic in progress, accruing policy agendas and the institutional ability to carry them out in a nonlinear fashion, often prompted and powered by the creative techniques of policy entrepreneurs and organizations that worked with, alongside, and outside formal boundaries to get results. These Progressive Era initiatives established models for the way states could create, intervene in, and regulate new policy areas—innovations that remain relevant for growth and change in contemporary American governance.

Contributors: James Greer, Carol Nackenoff, Julie Novkov, Susan Pearson, Kimberly Smith, Marek D. Steedman, Patricia Strach, Kathleen Sullivan, Ann-Marie Szymanski.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Series: American Governance: Politics, Policy, and Public Law


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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Introduction: Statebuilding in the Progressive Era: A Continuing Dilemma in American Political Development

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pp. 1-31

This volume addresses statebuilding in the Progressive Era, and the years leading up to and immediately following it, by considering institutions, policy areas, reformers, and sites of development that have largely evaded the analytical gaze of researchers who explore the roots of the modern American...

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1: Making Citizens of Freedmen and Polygamists

Julie Novkov

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pp. 31-64

The post-Civil War years were busy ones for activists, government agents, and federal government lawyers. As the war ended, the Constitution was amended and Congress passed legislation to facilitate the shift of African Americans from bondsmen (and women) to free citizens. Freedmen’s Bureau agents operated...

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2: Demagogues and the Demon Drink: Newspapers and the Revival of Prohibition in Georgia

Marek D. Steedman

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pp. 65-94

On July 30, 1907, the Georgia House of Representatives voted by an overwhelming margin to pass a bill mandating statewide prohibition. The bill had already successfully cleared the state Senate, and the signature of Governor Hoke Smith was assured. Statewide prohibition would take effect on January...

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3: Statebuilding Through Corruption: Graft and Trash in Pittsburgh and New Orleans

Kathleen S. Sullivan and Patricia Strach

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pp. 95-117

Progressive Era cities faced garbage disposal problems. As mounting trash filled streets, dumps, and rivers, municipal officials in Pittsburgh and New Orleans considered a new and expensive solution, reduction, in which trash was converted into profitable byproducts such as grease and fertilizer.1 In...

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4: Developing the Animal Welfare State

Susan J. Pearson and Kimberly K. Smith

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pp. 118-139

No subject has been more marginal to scholarship on American political development than animals. Indeed, Stephen Skowronek’s seminal study of statebuilding is perfectly silent on the topic in spite of the fact that one of his major case studies is the army, an organization centrally concerned throughout the....

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5: Wildlife Protection and the Development of Centralized Governance in the Progressive Era

Ann-Marie Szymanski

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pp. 140-170

As scholars such as Elisabeth Clemens have demonstrated, statebuilding in the United States has never been a purely linear process. Over time, there has been no wholesale, systematic progression, culminating in the centralization of power in autonomous national agencies. Instead, political entrepreneurs...

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6: The House That Julia (and Friends) Built: Networking Chicago's Juvenile Court

Carol Nackenoff and Kathleen S. Sullivan

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pp. 171-202

At the turn of the twentieth century, reformers in Chicago, deeply concerned about social conditions and moral influences on children, created a juvenile court system. This innovation led to the extension of the juvenile court idea and other institutional efforts in child saving across the nation and gave rise...

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7: The Better Homes Movement and the Origins of Mortgage Redlining in the United States

James L. Greer

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pp. 203-236

In the second year of the New Deal, the federal government continued to grapple with the daunting economic problems of the Great Depression, especially with the ongoing problems of the nation’s financial system and the continuing plague of extensive unemployment. One of the most important pieces...


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pp. 237-294

List of Contributors

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pp. 295-298


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pp. 299-312


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pp. 313-313

E-ISBN-13: 9780812209075
E-ISBN-10: 0812209079
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812245714

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 3 illus.
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: American Governance: Politics, Policy, and Public Law
Series Editor Byline: Series Editors: Richard Valelly, Pamela Brandwein, Marie Gottschalk, Christopher Howard See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 875446907
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Statebuilding from the Margins

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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Social policy.
  • United States -- History -- 1865-1921.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1865-1933.
  • Progressivism (United States politics).
  • United States -- History -- 1919-1933.
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