Bryce's American Commonwealth Fiftieth Anniversary

By Robert C. Brooks | Go to book overview

II. STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS IN THE AMERICAN COMMONWEALTH: COMPARISONS AND CONTRASTS WITH THE PRESENT

By Frances L. Reinhold*

OF ALL INSTITUTIONS IN THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENTAL HIERarchy which Lord Bryce surveyed, it is clear that he favored first the Supreme Court, second, the federal Constitution, third, the organs of the national government. State governments ranked a poor fourth and local governments a bad fifth. Were this whimsical Scotch commentator on "that odd little nook, Rhode Island," "prudent Oregon," "pure Vermont," and "melancholy Missouri," writing today, it is doubtful whether he would change his sliding scale of values save perhaps to close a bit the yawning abyss that set the state and local so far below the high national level. Indeed contemporary students of the lower levels of American government deplore the fact that the stereotype which Bryce imprinted is likely to outlive its accuracy. Yet his dismal picture of these lesser political breeds as portrayed in the first edi-

____________________
*
Frances L. Reinhold is an Instructor in Political Science at Swarthmore College. She is the author of Provisional Appointments in City Civil Service, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1937; and contributing author of The American Politician, University of North Carolina Press, 1938.

-25-

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