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Building the American Republic, Volume 2: A Narrative History from 1877

by Jane Dailey

University of Chicago Press, 2018


Paper: 978-0-226-30082-5

Cloth: 978-0-226-30079-5

eISBN: 978-0-226-30096-2

About the Book
Building the American Republic combines centuries of perspectives and voices into a fluid narrative of the United States. Throughout their respective volumes, Harry L. Watson and Jane Dailey take care to integrate varied scholarly perspectives and work to engage a diverse readership by addressing what we all share: membership in a democratic republic, with joint claims on its self-governing tradition. It will be one of the first peer-reviewed American history textbooks to be offered completely free in digital form. Visit for more information. 

The American nation came apart in a violent civil war less than a century after ratification of the Constitution. When it was reborn five years later, both the republic and its Constitution were transformed. Volume 2 opens as America struggles to regain its footing, reeling from a presidential assassination and facing massive economic growth, rapid demographic change, and combustive politics.

The next century and a half saw the United States enter and then dominate the world stage, even as the country struggled to live up to its own principles of liberty, justice, and equality. Volume 2 of Building the American Republic takes the reader from the Gilded Age to the present, as the nation becomes an imperial power, rethinks the Constitution, witnesses the rise of powerful new technologies, and navigates an always-shifting cultural landscape shaped by an increasingly diverse population. Ending with the 2016 election, this volume provides a needed reminder that the future of the American republic depends on a citizenry that understands—and can learn from—its history.
About the Author
Jane Dailey is associate professor of American history at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Before Jim Crow: The Politics of Race in Post-Emancipation Virginia and Jim Crow America: A Norton Casebook in History and the coeditor of Jumpin’ Jim Crow: Southern Politics from Civil War to Civil Rights.
Building the American Republic tells the story of the United States with remarkable grace and skill, its fast-moving narrative making the nation’s struggles and accomplishments new and compelling.  Weaving together stories of a broad range of Americans, drawing from the best scholarship, and writing in a warm and engaging voice, Watson and Dailey have crafted an inclusive history that is a pleasure to read.”
— Edward L. Ayers, Tucker-Boatwright Professor of the Humanities, University of Richmond

“Learned and inviting, this beautifully realized consideration of the American experience deploys the craft of history to advance a profound account of fundamental themes. By integrating political, social, demographic, and economic understanding, the combination of analysis and narrative power in Building the American Republic will prove stimulating to teachers as well as their students.”
— Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History, Columbia University

“Written by two leading political historians, Building the American Republic provides an engaging and accessible narrative of US history that combines a lucid discussion of American political institutions with an analysis of major social movements and cultural developments. Students will find the book an invaluable point of departure for gaining a deeper understanding of the American past.”
— Rosemarie Zagarri, University Professor and Professor of History, George Mason University

“Most of our teaching materials have morphed into four-color glossy multimedia extravaganzas with interactive features, hot-links, and ‘chat with the author’ interfaces that confront students with a food court of undifferentiated choices. But these new volumes look like and read like books. Without reverting to a pompous omniscience, which so often mars this kind of effort, these books manage to exhibit many perspectives and voices in a narrative that provokes discussion and invites reflection.”
— Journal of the Early Republic

Narrative History, 1877, History & Theory, Political Science, United States, History
Open Access Information

License: CC BY-NC-ND