Eric Lomazoff, "Reconstructing the National Bank Controversy: Politics and Law in the Early American Republic" (U Chicago Press, 2018)


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Eric Lomazoff has written a kind of detective novel about the national bank controversy during the early years of the new republic. Lomazoff poses, in the introduction, and at the start of each chapter, the general understanding that many scholars and citizens have about the bank controversy itself and the constitutional decision in McCulloch vs. Maryland. And Lomazoff notes that these contours are generally accurate but that they elide significant components of the controversy that is actually spread out over an extended period of time. Given this more extensive time frame, Reconstructing the National Bank Controversy: Politics and Law in the Early American Republic (University of Chicago Press, 2018) does exactly what the title promises, in compiling different aspects of our understanding of the controversy, and integrating key shifts in the political and economic landscape that also changed parts of the actual controversy itself. Lomazoff takes the reader through the general understanding of the National Bank controversy, untangling different threads of the argument and the changing political and economic dynamics in the United States. Because the bank controversy is often collapsed into the debate over either a strict or broad interpretation of the Necessary and Proper clause of the Constitution, many aspects of American political development are generally pushed into the background—these ignored or obscured aspects of the controversy are the focus of Reconstructing the National Bank Controversy: Politics and Law in the Early American Republic, and rightly so, since they trace a deeper and more complex understanding of changing monetary policy, banking regulation, and congressional and executive fiscal power in the new republic. This is an action-packed discussion of the general understanding of the early American Republic, and the real controversy around the establishment of the national bank.

Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as author of The Politics of Military Base Closings: Not in My District (Peter Lang Publishers, 2003).

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