Governing the American State

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Kimberley S. Johnson Governing the American State: Congress and the New Federalism, 1877-1929. Princeton, NJ. Princeton University Press. 2007. pp. 242. $49.95. Cloth: ISBN 9780691119748.


Political scientist Kimberley S. Johnson believes the conventional wisdom about the New Deal is wrong. Rather than a sudden outburst of cooperative federalism abruptly creating the modern, centralized American state, she argues that much of the framework of the New Deal state was actually created through a long period of improvisation, political negotiation, and trial and error. The period covered by this book encompasses the Gilded Age and the Progressive Age, during which time the political structure was, in her words, "precariously balanced between a continued dual federal system and a centralized modern state." (page 4). She calls this period the "first New Federalism."

Key to her understanding of how federalism worked during this period is the concept of the "intergovernmental policy", which she defines as "laws, policies, or administrative arrangements that alter the relationship between the national government and the states." (page 4)

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