In recent years, the Journal of Policy History has emerged as a major venue for scholarship on American policy history in the period after 1900. Indeed, it is for this reason that it is often praised as the leading outlet for scholarship on American political history in the world. Only occasionally, however, has it featured essays on the early republic, the Civil War, or the post–Civil War era. And when it has, the essays have often focused on partisan electioneering rather than on governmental institutions. The rationale for this special issue of the Journal of Policy History is to expand the intellectual agenda of policy history backward in time, so as to embrace more fully the history of governmental institutions in the period before 1900. The six essays in this volume contain much that will be new even for specialists in nineteenth-century American policy history, yet they are written in a style that is intended to be accessible to college undergraduates and historians unfamiliar with the period.