The Civil War to the New Deal - Vol. 2

The Civil War to the New Deal - Vol. 2

The Civil War to the New Deal - Vol. 2

The Civil War to the New Deal - Vol. 2

Excerpt

This work was begun in the early 1960s in an effort to explore some of the linkages between business and government as revealed by an examination of the makeup of the boards of directors of America's large corporations. This, I later discovered, was an approach which had not yet been employed in a thorough, systematic fashion, primarily because the requisite business directories were not available over a long period of time to be mined by various able historians and other social scientists. In part because of my orientation and training as a political scientist, my initial labors were confined to the post-1941 period, and focused largely on the federal recruitment process. However, as my work continued, the question naturally arose, what was the politico-economic linkage pattern in the preceding period? So I carried this general line of analysis back to the turn of the century, for most of which period a number of good business directories were available (along with a substantial set of secondary works); then to the late 1860s, for which years only Poor's Railroad Manual was available (to be supplemented by a wide variety of secondary sources); and finally, in one last major research effort, back through the pre-Civil War decades to 1789, for which years I had to rely largely on non-primary material, particularly biographical studies of high federal officials.

The initial aim of this study was to make a systematic analysis of the socio-economic background of the top appointive officials in the federal government over time in the hope that the data might be put to good use by other social scientists. Another equally important purpose was to employ these recruitment findings to make a rough general assessment of the distribution of power in the country and thereby shed some light on the "elitist" versus "pluralist" controversy which has been raging among political scientists and sociologists in recent decades. The analysis of major issues and events was undertaken somewhat later in an effort to show that there may be a significant relationship between the background of various high federal officials and their governmental actions, although it . . .

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