American Political Thought: Winter 2019 Issue

Independence Hall with snow

American Political Thought Journal: Winter 2019 Issue


American Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture, has recently published its Winter 2019 issue, which features pieces by JMC fellows Matthew Berry, Sean Beienburg, Scott Yenor, Peter Onuf, and David Thunder.



>> Table of Contents <<


  1. “The Alt Right and the Religious Impulse: A Tocquevillian Analysis,” Matthew Berry
  2. “Progressivism and States’ Rights: Constitutional Dialogue between the States and Federal Courts on Minimum Wages and Liberty of Contract,” Sean Beienburg
  3. Invisible Man and Democratic Leadership,” Brian Danoff
  4. “James Baldwin and Recognition,” David Jenkins
  5. “‘Ghostly Voices from the Fields’: Nebraska and Political Hopelessness,” Char Roone Miller

Book Reviews:

  1. “Father of Liberty: Jonathan Mayhew and the Principles of the American Revolution,”      Mark A. Noll
  2. “From Oligarchy to Republicanism: The Great Task of Reconstruction,” Scott Yenor
  3. “A Political Companion to W.E.B. Du Bois,” David Jenkins
  4. “Struggle on Their Minds: The Political Thought of African American Resistance,”         Angela Jones
  5. “American Nationalisms: Imagining Union in the Age of Revolutions,” Peter Onuf
  6. “Bureaucracy in America: The Administrative State’s Challenge to Constitutional Government,” David Lewis Schaefer
  7. “The Age of Responsibility: Luck, Choice, and the Welfare State,” David Thunder
  8. “Exit Left: Markets and Mobility in Republican Thought,” Eric MacGilvray



“The Alt Right and the Religious Impulse: A Tocquevillian Analysis,” Matthew Berry

In this article, Matthew Berry uses Tocqueville’s analysis of the religious impulse in the human soul to suggest one contributing factor to the rise of Far Right nationalism in America today. Many of those who find themselves attracted to the so-called Alt Right claim to be motivated by the desire for a commitment to a transcendent and morally demanding community but for various reasons are not satisfied by the more obviously religious alternative. Berry supports this suggestion with selected engagement with self-described Alt Right authors.

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Matthew BerryMatthew Berry is visiting assistant professor in Political Science in the Boston College Core Fellows Program. A graduate of the Boston College doctoral program, Dr. Berry has written on the subject of equity and the rule of law, as well as on an Aristotelian approach to social justice. He is currently working on a book-length study of conservative and reactionary political thought. He has taught courses on ancient and modern political philosophy, constitutional law, Christian political thought, and the question of justice.

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“Progressivism and States’ Rights: Constitutional Dialogue between the States and Federal Courts on Minimum Wages and Liberty of Contract,” Sean Beienburg

Consistent with recent scholarship showing the importance of nonjudicial actors in constitutional development, this article uncovers stage legislative responses to the Supreme Court’s liberty-of-contract cases Lochner v. New York (1905) and especially Adkins v. Children’s Hospital (1923). This history shows that, like many political figures of the time, the states first interpreted Lochner narrowly and then, in the wake of Adkins, served as a source of resistance in trying to maintain their police powers. The states’ fight against liberty of contract offers two instructive lessons for contemporary politics. First, it demonstrates that, at least before the New Deal, state actors participated in extrajudicial constitutional interpretation and resistance, attempting to shape constitutional understanding. Second, in showing how this state interpretation was deployed on behalf of a progressive cause, it complicates the commonly understood association of states’ rights federalism with political and racial conservatism.

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Sean BeienburgSean Beienburg is an Assistant Professor at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University. Beienburg’s teaching and research interests include the Constitution and constitutional law, American political development and American political thought, federalism and state constitutionalism/politics, executive power (both presidential and gubernatorial), parties and interest groups, 19th and early 20th century political and constitutional history, and Prohibition.

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“From Oligarchy to Republicanism: The Great Task of Reconstruction,” Scott Yenor

In this book review, Scott Yenor examines From Oligarchy to Republicanism: The Great Task of Reconstruction, by Forrest Nabors. Yenor describes the piece as “a rare academic book in that it covers well-worn territory but offers compelling new insights… Anyone concerned with the American founding, the American Civil War, or American political development must read this book.”

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Scott YenorScott Yenor is a Professor of Political Science at Boise State University, where he teaches political philosophy. He is the author of articles on David Hume and the Scottish Enlightenment, presidential power, and literature and politics, and of Family Politics: The Idea of Marriage in Modern Political Thought (Baylor 2011). He is currently working on several projects, including a book on the principles of family regime for the late modern world, David Hume’s humanity, and an analysis of American Reconstruction.

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“American Nationalisms: Imagining Union in the Age of Revolutions,” Peter Onuf

Peter Onuf reviews American Nationalisms: Imagining Union in the Age of Revolutions by Benjamin E. Park. Onuf describes the book as a study that “seeks to recover the history of American conceptions of nation and union in the crucial period from the Peace of Paris in 1783, when American independence was recognized by the ‘powers of the earth,’ to the nullification crisis of 1833, when South Carolinians called the Union’s survival into question by refusing to recognize the federal government’s constitutional authority to regulate foreign trade.”

Click here to read the review >>



Peter OnufPeter S. Onuf is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of Virginia. He is also Senior Fellow at Monticello’s Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies. A leading scholar of Jefferson and the early American republic, he is the author, co-author, and editor of several books, including Jefferson’s Empire: The Language of American Nationhood (2001) and The Mind of Thomas Jefferson (2007). Onuf is also a co-host of the weekly public radio program and podcast Backstory with the American History Guys.

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“The Age of Responsibility: Luck, Choice, and the Welfare State,”         David Thunder

David Thunder reviews Yascha Mounk’s The Age of Responsibility: Luck, Choice, and the Welfare State. According to Thunder, “the book advances two central claims: first, that popular, and sometimes also academic, commentators – whether on the American left or the right – tend to assume a rather narrow, impoverished conception of personal responsibility, particularly in relation to welfare policy, focused almost exclusively on taking charge of one’s own life and living within one’s own means; and second, that reframing responsibility in a way that connects it to the broader values served by welfare institutions could help inspire more enlightened welfare policies.”

Click here to read the review >>



David ThunderDavid Thunder is a researcher and lecturer at the Institute for Culture and Society, University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. He is a recipient of the prestigious Ramón y Cajal Grant, awarded by the Spanish government to support outstanding research activities. Specific issues he has addressed in his writings include integrity and corruption in public life, the benefits and drawbacks of appeals to freedom of conscience in a morally conflicted society, the philosophical justification of human rights, and the ethics of financial trading.

Learn more about David Thunder >>



American Political Thought journal coverAmerican Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture is a JMC supported journal that bridges the gap between historical, empirical, and theoretical research. It is the only journal dedicated exclusively to the study of American political thought. Interdisciplinary in scope, APT features research by political scientists, historians, literary scholars, economists, and philosophers who study the foundation of the American political tradition. Research explores key political concepts such as democracy, constitutionalism, equality, liberty, citizenship, political identity, and the role of the state.

JMC is glad to announce the newest editors of the journal, JMC fellows Jeremy D. Bailey and Susan McWilliams. Nicholas Buccola, also a JMC fellow, will be the new book review editor.

Click here to learn more about American Political Thought >>



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