The nation takes shape

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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Critical Book Review III: The Nation Takes Shape In his book, The Nation Takes Shape, Marcus Cunliffe outlines what he calls a half a century of immense progress. He focuses in on the period of time from after the Constitution is drafted to the end of Andrew Jackson’s presidency. (1789-1837). In his book he outlines the major events pertaining to the evolution of our newly independent country. He illustrates the steps that the nation took in becoming America and establishing themselves as a free country where democracy reigns. Throughout this book Cunliffe breaks down the emergence of America into six distinct evolutionary processes: The national government, our foreign relations, the expansion of the west, the growth of the economy, the expanding sectional rifts which formed the basis for the civil war, and finally the growth of a more equal democracy. Cunliffe illustrates these points as the way, The Nation Takes Shape.

        Cunliff first talks about the origin and growth of partisan politics. In doing so, he outlines the process by which the constitution was to be interpreted by the American people. The vagueness of the document led to disputes between various factions of people who interpreted it in different ways. The initial split happened around 1790 when the first bank of the United States was given a twenty-two year charter. This struggle was caused by Thomas Jefferson (a democratic-republican), who believed in strict constructionism, and Alexander, Hamilton (a Federalist) who believed in loose constructionism. Jefferson said that the constitution did not give any provision for the US to have a bank because it was not spelled out in the constitution. But Hamilton using the premise of implied powers said it did because it gave them the power to lay and collect taxes, borrow money, and regulate commerce. By 1793 many of...