Book cover of Perfecting the Union: National and State Authority in the US Constitution by Max Edlingby Max Edling

For most of the twentieth century, the American founding has been presented as a struggle between social classes over issues arising primarily within, rather than outside, the United States. But in recent years, new scholarship has instead turned to the international history of the American union to interpret both the causes and the consequences of the US Constitution.

In Perfecting the Union, Max M. Edling argues that the Constitution was created to defend US territorial integrity and the national interest from competitors in the western borderlands and on the Atlantic Ocean, and to defuse inter-state tension within the union. By replacing the defunct Articles of Confederation, the Constitution profoundly transformed the structure of the American union by making the national government more effective. But it did not transform the fundamental purpose of the union, which remained a political organization designed to manage inter-state and international relations. And in contrast to what many scholars claim, it was never meant to eclipse the state governments.

Interview with the Author

Podcast Art for the New Book NetworkNew Books Network 
Max Edling, “Perfecting the Union: National and State Authority in the US Constitution” (Oxford UP, 2020)
3/16/21            28 min

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