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Private Property and the Limits of American Constitutionalism

The Madisonian Framework and Its Legacy

The United States Constitution was designed to secure the rights of individuals and minorities from the tyranny of the majority—or was it? Jennifer Nedelsky’s provocative study places this claim in an utterly new light, tracing its origins to the Framers’ preoccupation with the protection of private property. She argues that this formative focus on property has shaped our institutions, our political system, and our very understanding of limited government.

357 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1990

History: American History

Law and Legal Studies: The Constitution and the Courts

Political Science: American Government and Politics

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
I. Private Property and American Constitutional Government
II. The American Conception of Limited Government
III. The Lessons of the Formation
IV. The Focus on the Framers: Madison, Morris, and Wilson
V. The Structure
2. The Madisonian Vision: The Republican Solution to the Republican Problem
I. The Dilemma of Republican Government
II. The Republican Solution to Republican Problems
III. Conclusion
3. Aristocratic Capitalism: The Federalist Alternative of Gouverneur Morris
I. The Priority of Property in the Market Republic
II. Divisions in Society: The Poor versus the Rich
III. The Institutions of Government
IV. Political Liberty in a Commercial Republic
V. Property as Boundary
VI. The Clarity of Singlemindedness
4. The Democratic Federalist Alternative: James Wilson and the Potential of Participation
I. Philosophical Foundations
II. The Objects of Government
III. The Principles of Government
IV. The Institutions of Government
V. Democratic Injustice and Democratic Participation
5. The Madisonian Constitution
I. Class, Power, and the Hierarchy of Rights
II. The Neglect of Self-Governance
III. The Limitations Confirmed: The Anti-Federalist Perspective
IV. The Madisonian Constitution: Republican or Liberal?
V. The Conceptual Framework
VI. Judicial Review: The Consolidation and Transformation of the Madisonian Framework
VII. Afterword
6. The Legacy of the Formation and the Limits of American Constitutionalism
I. The Madisonian Conceptual Legacy: Private Property, Inequality, and the Distortion of the Republican Problem
II. The Failure of Public Liberty
III. Economic and Political Power
IV. The Puzzle of Property
V. The Disintegration of Property as Limit
VI. Reform through Redefinition
VII. The Mythic Power of Property
VIII. The Egalitarian Challenge
IX. Foundations of Constitutionalism
Works Frequently Cited

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