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Congressional dynamics : structure, coordination, and choice in the first American Congress, 1774-1789 /
Calvin Jillson, Rick K. Wilson.
Stanford, CA : Stanford University Press, 1994.
xii, 375 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
0804722935 (cloth : alk. paper) :
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Stanford, CA : Stanford University Press, 1994.
0804722935 (cloth : alk. paper) :
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Includes bibliographical references (p. [353]-365) and index.
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Appeared in Choice on 1995-02:
In this large, detailed, and statistically rich study of the Continental Congress, authors Jillson and Wilson argue that institutional deficiencies were a substantial factor in the failure of the Congress and of the Articles of Confederation under which it worked. Their thesis challenges the mainstream position, traceable to Merrill Jensen's Articles of Confederation (1940), that social, cultural, and economic differences among the regions were the cause of its failure. Adopting the approach of the "new institutionalism," the authors contend that the Congress lacked both the leadership and committee structure needed for effective management of business. All of the work of the Congress came to the floor where debate was unrestricted, uncoordinated, and unproductive. Eventually factions formed and rigidified, and by the mid-1780s the Congress was at a standstill. In the early years, however, coalition building had been the rule; the authors demonstrate this by multidimensional scaling, a statistical device used to display the voting patterns of the various state delegations. Accordingly, the Congress was not foredoomed by preexisting social divisions but might have succeeded given the proper institutional framework. An excellent application of political science to political history, suitable for graduate collections. P. Coby; Smith College
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Choice, February 1995
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Table of Contents
Introductionp. 1
Precedents and Early Choices: The Initial Structure of the Continental Congressp. 15
Legislative Precedents Available to Eighteenth-Century Americap. 17
The Origins and Organization of the Continental Congressp. 43
Institutional Development: Leadership, Committees, and the Floorp. 69
Leadership Capacity of the President of the Continental Congressp. 71
Evolution of the Committee System in the Continental Congressp. 91
Constraints on Cooperative Floor Behavior in the Continental Congressp. 132
Issue Resolution in the First American Congressp. 165
Regional Variations and the Pattern of Politics in the Continental Congressp. 167
The Radical Coalition and Factional Politics in the Congress, 1777-80p. 195
Nationalist Failure and Congressional Decline, 1781-88p. 239
Conclusion: Congressional Dynamics and the Demise of the Continental Congressp. 287
Appendix A Coding Categories for Votes and Committeesp. 305
Appendix B Rules of the Congressp. 307
Appendix C A Primer on Multidimensional Scalingp. 313
Appendix D Vexing Vectors and Interpreting Votesp. 322
Appendix E Delegate Listing by Congressional Year, 1774-88p. 330
Notesp. 345
Bibliographyp. 353
Indexp. 367
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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