Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9780226579450 Published November 2018
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Reconstructing the National Bank Controversy

Politics and Law in the Early American Republic

Eric Lomazoff

Reconstructing the National Bank Controversy

Eric Lomazoff

256 pages | 2 line drawings, 3 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2018
Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9780226579450 Published November 2018
Cloth $90.00 ISBN: 9780226579313 Published November 2018
E-book $10.00 to $30.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226579597 Published November 2018
The Bank of the United States sparked several rounds of intense debate over the meaning of the Constitution’s Necessary and Proper Clause, which authorizes the federal government to make laws that are “necessary” for exercising its other powers. Our standard account of the national bank controversy, however, is incomplete. The controversy was much more dynamic than a two-sided debate over a single constitutional provision and was shaped as much by politics as by law.

With Reconstructing the National Bank Controversy, Eric Lomazoff offers a far more robust account of the constitutional politics of national banking between 1791 and 1832. During that time, three forces—changes within the Bank itself, growing tension over federal power within the Republican coalition, and the endurance of monetary turmoil beyond the War of 1812 —drove the development of our first major debate over the scope of federal power at least as much as the formal dimensions of the Constitution or the absence of a shared legal definition for the word “necessary.” These three forces—sometimes alone, sometimes in combination—repeatedly reshaped the terms on which the Bank’s constitutionality was contested. Lomazoff documents how these three dimensions of the polity changed over time and traces the manner in which they periodically led federal officials to adjust their claims about the Bank’s constitutionality. This includes the emergence of the Coinage Clause—which gives Congress power to “coin money, regulate the value thereof”—as a novel justification for the institution. He concludes the book by explaining why a more robust account of the national bank controversy can help us understand the constitutional basis for modern American monetary politics.
 
Contents
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Getting the Ship out of the Bottle
1. Varieties of Strict Interpretation
2. “Banco Mania” and Institutional Drift
3. “The Great Regulating Wheel” and Institutional Conversion
4. More Than a Constitutional Rerun
5. The Compromise of 1816
6. McCulloch (1819) in the Shadow of the Compromise
7. A Tale of Two Clauses
Conclusion: A Revisionist Bank Narrative—Lessons Timely and Timeless
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Review Quotes
Mark Graber, University of Maryland School of Law
“Lomazoff presents a far more nuanced account of the constitutional politics of national banking. He convincingly demonstrates that the constitutional foundations of a national bank shifted over time and that this shift reflected in large part the changing functions of the Bank of the United States. The combination of economic, political, and constitutional development is first-rate, and the results shed new light on an important constitutional controversy.”
Alan Gibson, California State University, Chico
“A complex and sparkling reinterpretation of the debates over the constitutionality of the chartering of a national bank by Congress from its proposal by Alexander Hamilton in 1791 until its eventual dissolution in the 1830s. Whereas previous studies have portrayed this forty-year constitutional drama as a straightforward debate over the Necessary and Proper or Sweeping Clause of the Constitution, Lomazoff busts this pervasive myth by also highlighting the importance of the Coinage Clause. This is an important book.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
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