Though many states invested in their local railroads, and many quite successfully, others were less willing or less capable—so rail development necessarily became a federal concern. Railroads and American Political Development shows how this led to the Land Grant Act of 1850, a crucial piece of legislation in the building of both the nation’s infrastructure and the American state. Chronicling how this previously local issue migrated to the federal state, and how federal action then altered American rail planning, the book offers a new perspective on the exact nature of federalism. In the case of rail development, we see how state governments factor into the American state building process, and how, in turn, the separation of powers at the federal level shaped that process. The result is a fresh view of the development of the American rail system, as well as a clearer picture of the pressures and political logic that have altered and expanded the reach of American federalism.A few blurbs:
“Zachary Callen deftly probes the interface between federalism and the emergence of the railroad system in the antebellum era. He carefully traces the gradual shift away from state-centered railroad policy, pointing out that difficulties in promoting and coordinating railroads were common and induced western states to take the lead in calling for federal assistance. This volume casts welcome light on the nascent movement for federal control of the rail network and raises far-reaching questions about the nature of federalism in the American constitutional order.” —James W. Ely Jr.
“In this thoughtful new book, Zachary Callen reveals the politics of space at the center of America's antebellum railroad saga. The political energy of railroads played out in state legislatures, in Congress, and the tensions within and between them. An innovative reading of early American federalism, its limits and its long-run reverberations in American industrialization and political development.” —Daniel CarpenterMore information is available here.