The American Political Science Association was organized in 1904, marking the coming of age in America of political science as a distinct academic discipline and a recognized professional activity. 1 It is tempting to imagine that the men responsible for this development had drawn much of their inspiration from the ideals of the Founding Fathers. What else might American political science be supposed to be about, if not the "inalienable rights" of men and the "consent of the governed" as the basis of governmental authority? It is therefore with some surprise that we encounter their actual attitudes, which seem to have bordered almost upon contempt for traditional American notions.
We find Charles Merriam, for example, looking back in 1903 over the past several decades and all but congratulating his colleagues upon "a decided tendency away from many doctrines that were held by the men of 1776." 2 Merriam pointed in particular to "the Revolutionary doctrines of an original state of nature, natural rights, the social contract, the idea that the function of the government is limited to the protection of person and property." 3 These still might have some appeal "as articles of the popular creed," 4 he added, but they were no longer widely accepted by leading political scientists. Lester Ward, the sociologist, had summed up the matter nicely in 1893. "Our declaration of independence which recites that government derives its just powers from the 'consent' of the governed," he intoned, "has already been outgrown." 5
What could have led American political scientists to speak in this way? As puzzling as their disaffection may seem to us today, in many ways they were but following the intellectual currents of their times. Carl Becker, in his classic study of the Declaration of Independence, has shown how rapidly Jefferson's "self-evident truths" had been transformed into "glittering generalities" or "naïve" and mistaken beliefs.6 Within a very few years of the American Revolution, and especially in the wake of the French Revolution, English and French critics already were tearing down the doctrines of natural rights, natural law, and the social contract. They would be joined a few decades later by Southern pro-slavery theorists seeking to discredit the idea of natural rights, and then by advocates of active government who associated natural rights doctrine with laissez-faire "individualism." New theories of evolution added further energy to this corrosive mix.
But there was an even more powerful factor at work, one that must have seemed all the harder to resist, for it would set the very framework within which American political science would be pursued. Throughout the nineteenth century and into the early years of the twentieth, thousands of American students flocked to the famous German universities, seeking graduate educations not yet available at home. Upon their return a number of these young men were to foster equivalent studies in America, patterning them after the models of German scholarship.7 The social sciences in general, and political science in particular, would receive their first formulations as academic disciplines in America in this manner.
The American students absorbed from Germany not only professional methods of academic research, but the authoritarian ideas within which these had been posed. German thought had long been dominated by a preoccupation with "the State," and that concept soon would become the primary organizing category of American political science. Most of the initial writings by American political scientists would be framed as inquiries into "the nature of the State." Frank Goodnow, first president of the American Political Science Association, had no difficulty settling upon it in his efforts to delineate the scope of the new discipline. "Political science," he observed in his Inaugural Address in 1904, "is that science which treats of the organization known as the State."8
It would be easy to dismiss this deference to "the State" as simply a matter of style, just one term substituted for others, but its implications were profound. Neither the rights of individuals, nor the relations of citizens to government, nor the multiple activities of political life, nor even the status of freedom itself, could appear quite the same, once the all-inclusive form of "the State" had been introduced. Should it then so readily have been welcomed into American thought?
We today are so accustomed to references to "the State" in the literature of political science, it is difficult to remember the concept had not always been part of the American political vocabulary. The Founding Fathers clearly had avoided its use, speaking of "representative government," "civil government," "republics" or "commonwealths," but almost never of "the State."9 They did of course select "state" as the new name for the former colonies, but even this use was surprising for their day, and it may have reflected their effort to fit claims to independence into the terminology of the new "science of international law" as it had reached them in translations of the German theorist Puffendorf. 10
The Puritan colonists also had avoided "the State," remaining all the more faithful to "civil society," "civil government," and "commonwealth." Indeed, they stayed away even from "church and state," preferring "church and civil government." One notable exception among the American Puritans was John Wise. It can be disconcerting to read his Vindication of the Government of New England Churches, composed in 1717, and find him talking of a "Democratical State" or a "Civil State," or a "Compound Moral Person," until we notice his own dependence upon Puffendorf.11
It is only when we shift to the second half of the nineteenth century and to the men influenced by German scholarship that we suddenly encounter "the State" at every turn. No longer at the periphery of thought, it seems all at once to have become the principal concept for any serious scholarly discussion of man's political life. Although political scientists were to appropriate it more fully than anyone else, it would be used freely by most of the nation's first professional social scientists, whether sociologists, historians, economists, or others.
To see how this transformation came about, let us examine the ideas of four men instrumental in bringing academic political science to America. They were Francis Lieber, Theodore Dwight Woolsey, John Burgess and Westel Woodbury Willoughby, all deeply affected by German scholarship. Of the four, German concepts had come most naturally to Lieber, who was himself a native German, a protégé of the Prussian historian Niebuhr, and an immigrant to America in 1827, at the age of 27.12 The very summer Lieber landed in America Woolsey was already aboard ship, sailing to Germany to study the Greek classics, which he would return to teach at Yale College. 13 Several decades later, Burgess departed for Germany with the express purpose of finding those political studies "which did not exist" in America. 14 Only Willoughby never studied in Germany, but he was as thoroughly steeped in German scholarship as any of them, if not more so, having received his Ph.D. degree at The Johns Hopkins University in 1891 under Herbert Baxter Adams, the German-trained American historian. 15
Lieber is credited as the first scholar to promote political science as an academic discipline in America, and for some time his books had served as the first texts for the study of that subject in American colleges. Indeed, Woolsey depended on them in his own efforts to introduce political science to Yale upon assuming its presidency in 1848. And Burgess, striving ever since his student days to establish graduate studies in America, in 1880 would found the first "School of Political Science" at Columbia University. Willoughby would be named the first "Professor of Political Science" at Johns Hopkins, and in 1903 he would help organize the American Political Science Association.
A glorified idea of "the State" dominated the thinking of all four men, pervading Lieber's Manual of Political Ethics,16 Woolsey's Political Science, or The State: Theoretically and Practically Considered, 17 Burgess' Political Science and Comparative Constitutional Law, 18 and Willoughby's An Examination of the Nature of the State. 19 Lieber and Woolsey published their books in 1838 and 1878, respectively, with Woolsey's based on his lecture notes from the years of his presidency at Yale, 1848 to 1871. Burgess' book appeared in 1890, and Willoughby's, drawn from his lectures at Johns Hopkins, in 1896. None of these books is read today, though their authors were convinced they were dealing with timeless and universal truths. 20
The enthusiasm of these scholars for "the State" knew no bounds. It is "the greatest institution on earth," a "sacred institution," intoned Lieber, that "elevates everything that appertains to it." "It is a form and a faculty of mankind to lead the species toward perfection -- it is the glory of man."21 For Burgess it was "the most perfect organ which has as yet been attained in the civilization of the world for the interpretation of the human consciousness of right. It furnishes the best vantage-ground as yet reached for the contemplation of the purpose of the sojourn of mankind upon earth." 22
They believed "the State" to be "natural," "necessary," and "uninvented," but "government" a mere "contrivance." As Willoughby put it, "Government…is mechanical. It is the artificial means consciously created for formulating and executing the will of the State…There is no innate life either in its parts or in the whole. The State, on the other hand…has a will of its own; its actions are self-determined. There is life and volition both in itself and in its members."
23Denying the importance of institutions, they spoke of the level of "consciousness" within a community, of "mind conquering matter," of a "spiritual" rather than "physical" existence, and of "the State" as a "developing idea." If "the State" is "natural," its existence cannot be traced to the "consent" of its members, and so they rejected "the political fiction of mutual agreement." 24 "The demand for a moral justification of the State is an unnecessary one,"
25Willoughby insisted. Men did not lose anything upon entering "the State," since there had been no natural freedom to give up. In Woolsey's terms, "the right of the state to be comes not from renounced power, but from the state's being, in the natural order of things, God's method of helping men towards a perfect life." 26 Lieber and Woolsey labeled social contract theory "atomistic," "unhistorical," and "dangerous," favoring "tyranny and licentiousness" and "utterly destructive of political authority." 27
The concept of natural rights had to be abandoned as well. "The revolutionists of the 18th century said that individual liberty was a natural right; that it belonged to the individual as a human being, without regard to the state or society in which or the government under which, he lived," Burgess remarked, "but it is easy to see that this view is utterly impracticable and barren. There never was, and there never can be, any liberty on this earth among human beings outside of state organization." "The State" itself, he concluded, is "the source of individual liberty."28
Lieber and Woolsey hesitated to disown the doctrine of natural rights altogether, and so they tried to redefine it. Rights "flow directly from the nature of man," but only "inasmuch as he is a social being,"29 Lieber maintained. The doctrine could be "accepted," Woolsey agreed, but only "if it be used to denote such rights as grow out of our nature, and may be inferred from the destination to which it points us." He took spirited exception to "another and a heathenish kind of sense…attached to the words, when they were taken to mean the rights, or rather uncontrolled liberties, which men possess in a state of human nature in which there was no organized society or government." 30
Behind all of their arguments lay a teleological view of man and society. It was not in how things began, but in what they were "intended to be," that their true natures could be discovered. "What is, philosophically speaking, the true state of nature of any being or thing?" Lieber asked. "Doubtless that in which it fulfills most completely that end and object for which it is made." And since man is "essentially made for progressive civilization, this therefore is his natural state."31 If "civilization" ranked as the "ultimate end" of "the State," freedom counted merely as a "creation" of "the State" during its advance toward a higher spiritual destination. 32
What might have been the shocked reaction of the Founding Fathers, could they have heard these men declare liberty but a "proximate end" which "the State" might "permit" its "subjects?" The very use of the word "subject" instead of "citizen" is in itself deeply revealing. Though they were writing for Americans, it is impossible to escape the impression their frame of reference lay firmly within the world of monarchy, and absolute monarchy at that.
Lieber did recognize one sort of limitation upon absolute authority, for he declared each man to have "that over which the state can never extend the soul."33 And both he and Woolsey insisted "the State" had necessarily to be founded on "justice." But they never tried to say what these injunctions really meant, in terms of specific constitutional arrangements or legal requirements. Yet even so minimal a restriction was too much for Burgess and Willoughby, for whom limitations of any kind on the authority of "the State" were by definition impossible.
"Since no one can be bound by one's own will," argued Willoughby, "the sovereign political power must necessarily be incapable of legal limitation."34 Burgess defined sovereignty as "original, absolute, unlimited universal power over the individual subject and over all associations of subjects." "Of course, " he added, "the State may abuse its unlimited power over the individual, but this is never to be presumed. It is the human organ least likely to be wrong, and therefore, we must hold to the principle that the State can do no wrong." 35
The German Background
The arguments of these four scholars paralleled German formulations with remarkable faithfulness, down even to the steady shift that had taken place in Germany away from more liberal orientations following the Napoleonic Wars and toward the authoritarianism that solidified with the founding of the Second Reich in 1871. Lieber's and Woolsey's ideas were patterned after the south-German liberal theorists of the 1830's, such as Karl von Rotteck, while Burgess and Willoughby drew theirs primarily from the prominent German jurists and publicists of the Second Reich, men like Jellinek and Treitschke.
Willoughby went so far as to declare "the State" a real "person" in the same sense as are individual men, a direct borrowing from the German Staatsperson doctrine. The concept had first appeared in German jurisprudence in the 1830's, becoming by the time of the Second Reich its accepted and official juristic theory. 36 German jurists believed they were constructing a modern form of sovereignty by describing "the State" as a corporate "person," thus extending sovereignty beyond the person of the monarch himself. Yet the doctrine never accomplished any real limitations upon monarchical power, nor had it been so intended. It represented an intellectual reformulation of sovereignty, not a change in political or constitutional arrangements. 37
How could Lieber, Woolsey, Burgess or Willoughby have found these doctrines, so obviously "Hegelian"38 and "German" to our eyes, in any way applicable to American conditions? Amazingly, they did not look upon these ideas as "German" in character, but simply as the most "advanced" and "scientific" concepts available. It is instructive to observe how often in the literature of this period German writers were described as "modern publicists," with no mention of their German identities, their doctrines heralded as great "scientific discoveries" of universal import and applicability. 39 Under the pressure of such convictions, it must have seemed almost self-evident that the inherent conflict between American and German ideas could be resolved only by dismissing traditional American concerns as outmoded -- or as Ward had put it, "outgrown" -- in the face of a more modern understanding.
But was the German concept of "the State" either as advanced or as universal as the American scholars so readily believed? Or, to the contrary, can we recognize behind it the peculiar longings of a politically backward society? If Germans were preoccupied with "the State," it may well have been because they were not at all sure they possessed one. For centuries Germany had lagged far behind its neighbors in the drive toward modern statehood. Even at the outset of the nineteenth century it still lay divided into innumerable autonomous territories, united only by a shared language and nominal ties within the Holy Roman Empire. Neither representative institutions, nor public political activity, nor a nation-state form had yet emerged. The more aware Germans grew of this disparity, the more intensely they focused on "the State." Indeed, thinkers like Hegel sought to compensate for feelings of national inferiority by assuring Germans of the superiority of their "idea" of "the State" over institutions achieved more "concretely" elsewhere.
Nor had Germany made much progress toward the recognition of individual rights and of the need to protect these from governmental intrusion. Indeed, the language did not even possess terms with which to refer clearly to the notion of individual rights, but had to subsume any such concept under the larger notion of Recht, implying the whole of "right order" or "justice." For centuries Germany had lacked the vigorous middle class which in other European societies had helped break down feudal relationships by claiming specific rights to economic and political liberty. The old feudal notion of privileges and obligations among individuals and corporate bodies in place on a social hierarchy lingered on, transmuted to the "rights and duties" of individuals and "the State."
The four American scholars reproduced this same formula, insisting rights were forever conjoined with duties. Yet duty weighed all the more heavily in the equation, at least as far as individuals were concerned.40. "The law of free action and the rules of duty must be reconciled," Woolsey advised, "by giving the supreme control to the latter. Duty follows the man endowed with rights by the side of his freedom, telling him that the freeman has his responsibilities from which no amount of freedom can deliver him. Nay, the greater the freedom," he insisted, "the greater the responsibilities. It can never be too often repeated in this age that duty is higher than freedom." Indeed, men possess rights primarily so that they can carry out their duties. "The person deprived of all rights," Woolsey observed, "is cut off from almost all the ways of doing good to others." 41 "The State," too, possessed "rights and duties analogous to those of individuals." For Lieber these had to be reciprocal, and if "the State" demanded of an individual but returned nothing to him, then it was no longer his "State." Burgess and Willoughby, on the other hand, insisted "the State" alone could determine its own rights and duties. All four scholars tended to refer to "rights" as "powers of action," further removing any conceptual difference between the rights of individuals and the powers of government or of "the State." 42
It would be difficult to imagine a greater divergence from previous American ideals than we find in this set of ideas. All the careful concerns of the Founding Fathers to protect the rights of individuals, to limit the powers of government, and to base governmental authority upon the consent of the governed had essentially been abandoned, in favor of the higher authority of "the State."
Freedom, Government, and the State
The American scholars certainly recognized a disparity between German and American political development. Indeed, they believed they were using their German learning only as a "stepping-stone to a higher and more independent point of view," one which sought "the distinctive lessons of our own institutions."43 Thus Burgess would advise, "for a clearly defined and well secured civil liberty…Europe must come to us, and take lessons in our school of experience…we have done by far the best in this direction which mankind has as yet accomplished" 44 But neither he nor his colleagues questioned the transferability of ideas that had emerged from such rudimentary conditions. They simply looked upon "the State" as having been more fully "realized" in America than in Germany. 45
The problem in German thought, they believed, lay not in too great an emphasis on "the State," but too little. "German publicists," complained Burgess, "are accustomed practically to no other organization of the State than in the government."46 What he and the others seem to have been groping toward was some notion of a larger political community beyond the agencies of government, from which ultimate authority flowed. They knew such a community had hardly existed in Germany and was more fully developed in America. And yet they chose to draw upon German concepts, abandoning the far richer resources of American political language and experience.
These American scholars never appreciated how much Germany might have benefited from a wider understanding of "government," rather than an enlarged sense of "the State." There is no word in the German language equivalent to "government," with all that the term evokes of institutions and procedures and of established relations between a public and those entrusted with authority. Germans spoke of Verwaltung or Herrschaft or Regierung, meaning "administration" or "direction" or "rule." It had been an administration or directorship, that is, a bureaucracy, with which German monarchs had surrounded themselves, not "government" in any broad public sense. Nor could Germans speak of "politics" in the plural, as a multiplicity of public activities. German Politik conjured up only something like "policy" directed from on high, as in the term, Staatspolitik.
Only with difficulty can "the State" be regarded as a political concept at all, for it tends inevitably to dissolve all political relationships and institutions into one grand notion of an imposing and all-inclusive authority. Whenever "the State" is invoked there is no longer a clear sense of citizens and government or of individuals and society, but only the intimation of a mysterious and powerful presence superior to any of the elements within it. In contrast, the great strength of American political thought has always lain in its capacity to identify and describe the many factors that make up a political society, and perhaps most important, to maintain the distinctions among them. Might not the preservation of any free society depend in the end precisely upon this kind of clarity?
The four scholars were happy to absorb all such distinctions into the "corporate" body of "the State." Significantly, German princes had long called upon a corporate identity of "the State" in their efforts to consolidate their own power. Between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries, as they sought dominance over the nobility within their territories, German princes expressed their sovereignty as an incorporation of the liberties of their societies as a whole, vis-à-vis the Holy Roman Empire at large. This peculiar formulation, intrinsic to the structure of the Holy Roman Empire, forever confounded internal and external freedom, shaping the entire course of German political thought.
As Leonard Krieger has demonstrated in his masterful work, The German Idea of Freedom,47 Germany never developed a sense of the rights of individuals as freedom from governmental authority. To the contrary, in presenting themselves as the defenders of the corporate liberty of their societies, German princes were identifying their own authority and that of "the State" as the very "source" of a people's freedom. Thus the princes went about "granting" liberty to their subjects; their people did not already possess it as a matter of natural right independent of the sovereignty of "the State." 48 It is this insistence on "the State" as the "source" of freedom, more than anything else, that separates German thought from American understanding. American constitutionalism has always been based on the conviction that human beings possess their rights to liberty just because they are born human, not because government or society "gives" them those rights or can take them away. 49
The German princes would further confound freedom with power, especially military power, and sovereignty with absolute authority over their subjects. It is one thing to contend that a sovereign "state" cannot be limited by other "states" in the world, quite another to maintain that "the State" as an authority over its own people also cannot be limited. Yet to many German jurists, accustomed to defining the internal authority of German princes in terms of their external relationships to the Empire, these seemed identical propositions. Willoughby, especially, would echo their formulations. "No more than so-called international law," he insisted, "does constitutional law place a legal limitation upon the sovereignty of states."50
Some of this confusion may lie in the German language itself. In English we do sense at least a meager differentiation between a "state" existing in a world of other states and "the State" as it appears in the eyes of its own members, but in German der Staat referred as easily to either. Moreover, der Staat often pointed specifically to the state bureaucracy. These multiple meanings may have contributed to the mystique surrounding the concept of "the State" in Germany, for when any one sense of the term was called upon it inevitably conjured up all the rest. "The State" seemed always larger than itself, beyond limitation.
To contemporary eyes, the concept of "the State" may seem little more than an open category, carrying no particular implications. But has it ever really escaped them? Can we invoke "the State" without reproducing its confusions of internal with external liberty and of freedom with power? Do we ever really know what it is we are talking about? Where is "the State" in America -- or anywhere else in the world, for that matter? Does "the State" even exist? Or has it remained, as in its German setting, an overarching "idea" with little connection to concrete institutions or practices?
The way in which the German idea of "the State" entered American thought is of more than historical interest, for it continues to shape our understanding. Not that today's political scientists are inclined to join their nineteenth-century colleagues in disparaging the ideals of the Founding Fathers; if anything, the current mood is one of rediscovery. Yet the concept of "the State" has retained a surprisingly central position in the literature of political science, especially in the fields of international relations and comparative politics. If it no longer commands the grand presence it once had enjoyed in the works of Lieber, Woolsey, Burgess, and Willoughby,51 it hangs on nevertheless, even from time to time staging something of a comeback.
Thus in a 1985 work of comparative social science, Bringing the State Back In,52 Theda Skocpol reported "a sudden upsurge of interest in 'the state.'" 53 She and her co-authors, sharing this enthusiasm, sought to promote the concept as a dominant theoretical paradigm for research in their field. Interestingly, Skocpol was not unaware of the German connection. "Many researchers are relying anew," she observed, "on the basic understanding of "the state" passed down to contemporary scholarship through the widely known writings of …major German scholars." 1 But how can analytic sharpness be attained, when the very idea of "the State" remains so thoroughly muddled? Even within the pages of their volume, Skocpol and co-authors skip around among "state," "the State," "society" and "nation," with little clarification of their many different meanings. Indeed, Skocpol seems even to have been resurrecting the German Staatsperson doctrine, for she refers to states as "potentially autonomous actors," capable of making decisions and pursuing goals as if they were single persons.
In a 1922 work of political theory, The Modern State, Robert MacIver sought to answer the question, "What is the State?"56 MacIver never asked whether "the State" exists, only what it "is." Concerned about the many different meanings the term had often been assigned, he found it "curious that so great and obvious a fact as the State should be the object of quite conflicting definitions, yet such is certainly the case." 57 But is "the State" really so "obvious a fact?" Much of modern political science continues to assume that it is. But is it wise to persist in this reification, in an ever more integrated world in which even the "nation-state" concept no longer rings true?
In an era of globalization, we surely need to think carefully about the ideas we promulgate, especially when we offer them to the world in the guise of a disinterested social science. The nineteenth-century founders of American political science believed they had discovered in the German idea of "the State" an advanced and universal concept, applicable everywhere. Need we compound their error? Would we not do better to search for concepts that will help the world's people, not hinder them, in their quest for individual rights and full human dignity? If there is to be a universal idea, let it be that of the larger humanity embracing us all.
(1) Before the last several decades of the nineteenth century, it would have been difficult for an American student to find more than one or two college courses on the specific subject of politics anywhere in the country. By the first decade after 1900, however, "political science" had become a major field of study on most American campuses. See Bernard Crick, The American Science of Politics, University of California Press (Berkeley: 1959), for a classic overview of the development of political science in America. Also indispensable is Anna Haddow's collection of information about political science curricula, Political Science in American College and Universities: 1636-1900, D. Appleton-Century Co. (New York: 1939).
(2) C. Edward Merriam, A History of American Political Theories, Macmillan Co., (New York: 1918), p.332.
(5) Lester Ward, The Psychic Factors of Civilization, Ginn and Co., (Boston: 1893), p.304.
(6) Carl L. Becker, The Declaration of Independence, Random House, (New York: 1942). See especially chapter six, "The Philosophy of the Declaration in the 19th Century."
(7) Jurgen Herbst, The German Historical School in American Scholarship, Cornell University Press, (Ithaca: 1965), puts the figure at 9000 American students studying in the German universities between the years 1820 and 1920. Herbst's excellent book provides a great deal of information about this migration and its influence upon the development of social science in America.
(8) Frank Goodnow, "The Work of the American Political Science Association: Presidential Address by Frank J. Goodnow," Proceedings of the American Political Science Association, Vol. 1, 1904, p.37.
(9) An examination of the Federalist Papers turns up such phrases as "republic," "representative government," "democracy," "popular government," "union," "confederacy," "community," and "association," but not "the State." Interestingly enough, it did almost make its way into the United States Constitution. A preliminary draft of the Impeachment Clause, following English law, at first referred to "high crimes and misdemeanors against the State," but "the State" later was wisely dropped. It has reappeared again in our own day, in the accusations of those seeking to impeach President Clinton. One after another of his opponents elevated his small dishonesties into "crimes against the State."
(10) In a paper prepared in 1975 for a symposium on the Declaration of Independence at Notre Dame College of Maryland, John Pocock suggested this connection between "state" as the name for the former colonies and the Founding Fathers' readings of Puffendorf.
(11) "I shall take Baron Puffendorf for my Chief Guide and Spokes-man," John Wise declared. Selections from Vindication of the Government of New England Churches may be found in The Puritans: A Sourcebook of Their Writings, ed. Perry Miller and Thomas Johnson, Harper and Row, (New York: 1963). The full essay has been reprinted by Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, (Gainesville, Florida: 1958).
(12) For details of Lieber's life, see Frank Friedel's biography, Francis Lieber: Nineteenth-Century Liberal, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, 1947). Friedel sums up Lieber's contributions well. "Though he was not, as he had supposed, a great and original thinker, Lieber had transported to the new world a rich cargo of alien concepts. Strange and difficult at first, these ideas lost their exotic flavor and became by the time of his death an integral part of the American tradition. More significant than Lieber himself, these concepts remained common coin while their innovator's name disappeared. As a conveyor and synthesizer, if not as an originator, Lieber was indeed great." (p.417) Friedel does not try to identify these concepts, however, and he seems unaware that the term, "the State," which he himself uses freely in his book, was among the cargo Lieber brought to America.
(13) George A. King, S.J., Theodore Dwight Woolsey: His Political and Social Ideas, Loyola University Press, (Chicago: 1956). This first biography of Woolsey is a useful but shallow work, which does not recognize the German basis of Woolsey's ideas.
(14) John Burgess, Reminiscences of an American Scholar, Columbia University Press, (New York: 1934), p.69. This very interesting autobiography is superb as a source on Burgess' life.
(15) For information on Willoughby's academic life as provided by his former students and admirers, see Essays in Political Science, in Honor of Westel Woodbury Willoughby, ed. John Mabry Matthews and James Hart, John Hopkins Press, (Baltimore: 1937), especially the article by James W. Garner. Willoughby's obituary notice in the American Political Science Review, Vol. 29, No. 3, June, 1945, is also very helpful.
(16) Francis Lieber, Manual of Political Ethics, (Part I), Charles C. Little and James Brown, (Boston: 1838).
(17) Theodore Dwight Woolsey, Political Science, or The State: Theoretically and Practically Considered, Vol. 1, Scribner, Armstron and Co., (New York: 1878).
(18) John Burgess, Political Science and Comparative Constitutional Law, Vol. 1, Sovereignty and Liberty, Ginn and Co., (Boston: 1890).
(19) John Burgess, Political Science and Comparative Constitutional Law, Vol. 1, Sovereignty and Liberty, Ginn and Co., (Boston: 1890).
(20) Lieber especially enjoyed his own high estimation of himself as the purveyor of timeless truth. "I know that my work," he wrote of the Political Ethics, "belongs to the list which begins with Aristotle, and in which we find the names of Thomas More, Hobbes, Hugo Grotius, Puffendorf." Friedel, op. cit., pp.164-5.
(21) Lieber, op. cit., pp.78, 180, 183.
(22) Burgess, op. cit., p.85.
(23) Willoughby, op. cit., p.132.
(24) Lieber, Ibid., p.275
(25) Willoughby, op. cit., p.127.
(26) Willoughby, op. cit., p.127.
(27) Lieber, op. cit., p.335. Woolsey, op. cit., p.225.
(28) Burgess, op. cit., pp.175, 89.
(29) Lieber, op. cit., p.232
(30) Woolsey, op. cit., p.24
(31) Lieber, op. cit., p.147. The same sort of argument is central to Calhoun's Disquisition on Government, where it is used, as in Aristotle's Politics long before, in defense of slavery. It is interesting to speculate on the extent to which Lieber's work may have influenced Calhoun. Both men were in South Carolina during the decades before the Civil War, one as its leading statesman, the other as a professor at South Carolina College. According to Friedel, op. cit., p.164, Calhoun had read several draft chapters of Lieber's Political Ethics. The relationship between Southern pro-slavery theory and German thought merits careful study. Becker, op.cit., offers some suggestive references to Thomas Dew, a southerner who had studied in German universities.
(32) In truth, however, these scholars did still hold implicit in their thought some sense of an original "state of nature," for three out of four insisted upon viewing men as "savage" or "low" or "barbarian" until lifted up through "the State" toward "civilization." Only Willoughby avoided speaking of "barbarians," claiming instead that "the State" existed even for men who existed only in a nomadic stage of life.
(33) Lieber, Political Ethics, p.180.
(34) Willoughby, op. cit., p.81-2.
(35) Burgess, op. cit., pp.53, 56.
(36) The Staatsperson doctrine is discussed by Otto Butz in Modern German Political Theory, Doubleday and Co., (Garden City, New York: 1955), pp.15-18, and at much greater length by Rupert Emerson in his notable State and Sovereignty in Modern Germany, Yale University Press, (New Haven: 1928).
(37) Emerson, op.cit., pp.126-7, took the German jurists to task for their avoidance of modern realities. "One must respect both the logical perfection and the schematic brilliance of many of the juristic systems of the first 30 or 40 years of the Reich, but the feeling is inescapable that a great part of the ingenuity and labor expended might have been turned to more fruitful use in bringing jurisprudence into closer touch with the acknowledged realities…In whatever direction the political future of the world might lie, it is a safe assumption that hereditary monarchy possessing a plenitude of power in its own right will not again play any considerable role; yet it was with such monarchy that these writers had fundamentally to deal…The State as Person and the prince as organ of the State were the dogmas of the time, but it is evident that these were merely variations of the dogma of absolute monarchy."
(38) The name of Hegel rarely appears in the writings of the four scholars, despite the fact that so much of the German scholarship on which they were drawing had been based upon his work. They seem to have absorbed German ideas and attitudes from the second-rank thinkers of Germany and from the general intellectual milieu of the German universities.
(39) Lester Ward's excited reference to "the discovery of the true nature and origin of the State" provides a good example of this "scientific" outlook. "It has brushed away a greater amount of error than almost any other established truth in science. All the old ideas of the origin of the state are placed by it in the same list as the geocentric and Ptolemaic theories of astronomy, the doctrine of phlogiston in chemistry, and those of special creation and the immutability of species in biology." Pure Sociology: A Treatise on the Origin and Spontaneous Development of Society, Macmillan Co., (New York: 1911), p.549.
(40) In calling his book, Political Ethics, Lieber was trying to emphasize duty over right. "Ethics," he claimed, is a subject which treats "of the duties of man, and secondarily of his rights derivable from his duties," whereas "natural law" deals primarily with "man's rights, and secondarily of his obligations flowing from the fact of each man's being possessed of the same rights." op. cit., p.65.
(41) Woolsey, op. cit., pp.13-14.
(42) "In order to fulfill his work in the world, the individual must have certain powers of action…These powers or ways of free action are called rights." "A state…must have adequate powers or rights of action. Its powers may be called rights like those of the individual." Woolsey, op.cit., pp.4-6 and 199.
(43) Burgess, op.cit., p.69.
(44) Ibid., p. 264. Lieber had expressed a similar sentiment in On Civil Liberty and Self-Government, published in 1853. "To learn liberty, I believe that nations must go to America and England, as we go to Italy to study music and to have the vast world of fine arts opened up to us, or as we go to France to study science, or to Germany that we may learn how to instruct and spread education." J.B. Lippincott Co., (Philadelphia: 1901), p.295.
(45) Burgess clearly found the concept of "the State" appropriate for the assertion of a national identity in the aftermath of the Civil War. Herbst, op. cit., pp.126-7, has some interesting comments on Burgess' equating of the North in the Civil War with the efforts of Prussia to gain dominance over the rest of Germany. See also Burgess' "Inaugural Address as the First Roosevelt Professor at the University of Berlin," in an appendix to Reminiscences, pp.368-379. Both Burgess and Willoughby used the concept of "the State" to counteract the idea of federalism, claiming there to be "no such thing as a federal state," and all four men, in stressing the activist role to be played by "the State," were supplying an antidote to the laissez-faire doctrines gripping American thought at that time.
(46) Burgess, op. cit., p.57.
(47) Leonard Krieger, The German Idea of Freedom, Beacon Press, (Boston: 1957). See especially pp.1-14.
(48) Unfortunately, many Americans no longer remember that their own rights are not "granted" by the Constitution, but only protected by it. In my own classes, when I ask students how it is that they possess the right to free speech, they tell me that the First Amendment "gave" it to them. When I ask whether they would lose that right if a Constitutional Convention were held tomorrow and the First Amendment rescinded, they are quite sure they would. They find it difficult to understand a concept of rights which humans possess just because they are born humans, not because government gives them these rights, and which government cannot take away. Is this inability to appreciate the most basic of American constitutional principles the legacy left to us by America's first political scientists?
(49) Except for human beings born with black skin and impressed into slavery, of course. It is always distressing to remember this huge lacuna in the natural rights understanding of the Founding Fathers.
(50) Willoughby, Ibid., p.204.
(51) By the first decade or two of the twentieth century, "the State" had already passed so completely into the vocabulary of American political science that it seems no longer to have been regarded as in any way especially noteworthy. Charles Merriam and his colleagues used it in a fully unselfconscious way, as something of a neutral category within which all forms of political life might dispassionately be discussed.
(52) Bringing the State Back In, ed. Peter B. Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol, Cambridge University Press, (Cambridge: 1985).
(53) Theda Skocpol, "Bringing the State Back In: Strategies of Analysis in Current Research," op. cit., p.3.
(54) Ibid., p.7.
(55) Ibid., p.28.
(56) Robert MacIver, The Modern State, Oxford University Press, (London: 1922), p.3.
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