The doctrine of laissez-faire, the imperative to "let the people do as they choose," has long been identified as one of the ideological cornerstones in the foundation of the republic. The government which governs least, governs best has been the lesson taught to young students of American history and the motto of savvy politicians seeking to gain public favor with a seeminThe doctrine of laissez-faire, the imperative to "let the people do as they choose," has long been identified as one of the ideological cornerstones in the foundation of the republic. The government which governs least, governs best has been the lesson taught to young students of American history and the motto of savvy politicians seeking to gain public favor with a seeming truism.Although the notion of laissez-faire's importance is undoubtedly honored by time, whether it is validated by experience is open to question. Some 45 years ago, Frank Bourgin, then a young graduate student at the University of Chicago, began to compile evidence which indicated that the concept of a non-interventionist government was not part of the founding fathers' program.Frank Bourgin was a pioneer in his field. He demonstrated that the early republic was created by men who envisioned an affirmative government, one which would devise systematic means of meeting social needs and developing a new nation's resources. They were men responding to the great challenge that was America and this is the story of that challenge....
|Title||:||The Great Challenge: The Myth of Laissez Faire in the Early Republic|
|Number of Pages||:||223 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Great Challenge: The Myth of Laissez Faire in the Early Republic Reviews
In terms of the pure reading pleasure this provided, I'd give it 3 stars. It did get dry in places. But because of the author's story, it gets four.Frank Bourgin was a doctoral student at the University of Chicago in 1945 when he submitted his dissertation for approval. In fact, he started the Ph.D program in 1933, took time off to teach at a junior college and a state teachers' college, and resumed studies in 1939. Bourgin's thesis advisor, Charles Merriam, who also advised FDR on the New Deal, suggested he read all the writings of Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison "and analyze their thoughts on economic policy." The idea that the Founding Fathers had had a laissez-faire attitude toward government and economic policy was the conventional wisdom at the time, but Bourgin's research found otherwise; while many scholars conceded that Hamilton was into national planning, everyone considered Jefferson to be the opposite - anti-big government, pro-states' rights. But Bourgin found plenty of evidence that Jefferson had seen a larger role for the federal government, in terms of land policies, internal improvements (roads, canals, transportation, etc.), and even public education. Not all of Jefferson's thoughts in this area were fleshed out into programs, but his writings showed they were on his radar and he was in favor of them. At this point, having run out of money, and married, Bourgin dropped out of the doctoral program to take a job as an army historian. He kept working on the dissertation and submitted a final draft to his department. Several months later he received a horrifying letter from one of his advisors, Leonard D. White, who informed him that it was the unanimous opinion of the three advisors that the dissertation was not satisfactory and needed more work. White suggested he quit his job and re-enroll at the University fulltime.[All of this information is from Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s Foreword.]It seemed that White may have been pulling the wool over Bourgin's eyes. His primary advisor, Merriam, most likely would not have disapproved of the dissertation given that he had suggested the topic and that he and Bourgin had co-written an article two years earlier. The third advisor, C. Herman Pritchett, had no recollection (years later) of ever reading Bourgin's thesis. When White returned the manuscript to Bourgin, only White's handwritten comments were on it. There were no handwritten comments from either Merriam or Pritchett. Also, White's comments only appeared on one chapter. It seemed as if, far from being unanimous, White had made a unilateral decision. And given that Bourgin now had a child to support, he could hardly quit his job and re-enroll in school.No one knows why White acted as he did. Was it ideological - was he irritated by Bourgin's conclusions about laissez-faire being a "myth?" Was he distracted by his war work in Washington? At any rate he seemed oblivious to the fact that Bourgin needed to earn a living and could not enter school fulltime to rework the dissertation.Bourgin stashed the unpublished dissertation in a metal box and went to work in the men's clothing business in a small town in Minnesota. He worked in business and government for the next 40 years as he and his wife raised their family. Then in 1985, Bourgin took the dissertation out of the metal box and reread it. He decided to send a summary of it to historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.; Schlesinger found it "path-breaking." He resubmitted the manuscript to the department of political science at the University of Chicago and in 1988 the department accepted it and granted Frank Bourgin his Ph.D. degree. He was 77.Professor Pritchett, one of Bourgin's three advisors in 1945, now read the dissertation for the first time. He informed the department that "In my judgment this is not only an acceptable doctoral dissertation by University of Chicago standards; it is a major research effort which successfully supports the author's thesis that the American founders believed in and practiced 'affirmative government.' ... This is a massive scholarly production, organized around a significant theme with findings powerfully supported by the data."The book is dedicated to Bourgin's parents, his wife, his first political science professor, his first economics teacher, to Professor Merriam, and to Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who "brought this work out of the shadows."In slightly modified form, Bourgin's dissertation became this book.The only real criticism I have is that the book needed a conclusion, a summation. It ended rather abruptly.