Throughout America's history, the House has played a central role in shaping the nation's destiny. In our own time the impeachment hearings of President Clinton and the rise and fall of Newt Gingrich revealed, quite starkly, just how vital the House's constitutional powers remain.
Violence, acrimony, triumph, and compromise litter the House's varied and illustrious past. Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, John Randolph, "Uncle Joe" Cannon, Sam Rayburn, and Tip O'Neill are just a few of the figures who have brought glory as well as ignominy to the House of Representatives. These leaders mastered the rules and folkways of the House and bent them to their own or the people's wills and needs. They are generally less well known than many of the Senate's leaders but their contributions and eccentricities are no less important and intriguing.
The founders of our country created the House to reflect the will of the people. Out of chaos could emerge a national consensus that could bind the country together after first revealing the deep fissures between North and South and, in our day, among the Midwest, the South and the coastal regions. Over the centuries the powerful hold the Founding Fathers gave the House over the purse strings of the nation has forced its members to be conciliators and even statesmen in times of crisis. The essential drama of democracy - the struggle between principle and pragmatism - isshowcased throughout the book and through it the history of America's successful experiment with democracy unfurls.
Click for the original review.
Henry Clay of Kentucky was known as the Great Compromiser for his efforts to preserve the Union during the national controversy over slavery. John C. Calhoun of South Carolina was a vigorous Congressional exponent of the inteterest of the South in the decades before the Civil War. The Speaker of the House of Representatives is chosen from the majority party and does not ordinarily vote on bills. The Founding Fathers are those men who participated in the country's principal documents, primarily the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.