Post-Civil War (Capitalism/Progressive Period) & Skowronek

Post-Civil War (capitalism/Progressive period)

According to Skowronek (1982, ix), America did not begin as a "state." During the very beginning of the republic, the government chiefly functioned through courts and political parties. Skowronek refers to the state as "the state of courts and parties" (39). The state of courts and parties was organized with a provincial focus for the government's action. What is more, according to Skowronek (1982), the state of courts and parties actually stood in the ways as a sort of barrier to the rise of modernization of national administrative power.

"Statebuilding as patchwork between 1877 and 1900" (Skowronek 1982, 39) began when advocates of a national administration started pushing for reforms that would create a strong administrative state. However, these advocates were not very successful in their undertakings. The reason for the failures was because of the fact that reforms could only come out of existing political institutions and the politicians and administrators who were in power did not have any good reason to reform the very institutions that gave them their authority and power; this did not make any reasonable sense to them. Skowronek (1982) explains that patchwork reforms are what happened next. There were some new institutions that came out to meet demands on government, but still, government elites spent their efforts perfecting existing institutions not replacing them.

In "Statebuilding as reconstitution: 1900-1920," Skowronek (1982) offers the chief point that a basically new state had to be created; it was necessary. Supporters of national administrative development started to win support for a new national administrative area of interest. The bureaucratic state came from this difference of opinion. But still, the American state that emerged during this timeframe was not exactly a great -- or even practical -- reply to the new environmental demands. Rather, the pre-existing institutions essentially structured it.

"The institutional context of reform" illustrates that while there was reform occurring, there wasn't a tremendous amount of reform occurring by any stretch of the imagination. Between the years of 1877 and 1920, the statebuilding going on was in the context of institutions that were already in place, as mentioned, and arguments concerning how to manage government reform were impacted by this context.

Chapter three of Nelson's The Roots of American Bureaucracy is arguably one of the most interesting and important chapters because of the way that it shows reformers working toward American moral recovery. The big goal or desire was for the government to be moral and they thought that the government should have limitations, and those limitations should -- and must -- protect individual rights. There was the sense of a new type of morality appearing around this time and this would continue into all areas of the government. Nelson's three chapters are significant in that they explain what was going on in American governmental institutions and the conflict of majoritarianism and pluralism.

Another interesting aspect in Nelson's writings is the pointing to the controversy when it came to voting rights for individuals. For instance, just because a black person was free, does that give him the right to vote? Some people thought yes, while others believed that voting was simply a political right and not every person had that political right. There was the battle of defining rights and liberties. There was an issue with whether or not moral principles could create a new American state.

There were many failures of "antislavery morality" (Nelson 1982, 73) and it would seem that every time a failure occurred, there was a new sense of danger in the form of a majoritarian tyrannical government; essentially, this threat appeared to always…