Political Science 218w/518 and History 342/442

Spring 2004


Emergence of the Modern Congress



Gerald Gamm

Harkness Hall 331



Office hours: Monday afternoons, 1:00–2:30; Thursday mornings, 10:00–11:30


Through reading and research, this course examines major issues in congressional history and legislative organization.  This course is appropriate for graduate students as well as qualified undergraduates with permission of the instructor.




Informed participation in weekly discussions (30%). Students are required to attend all scheduled class meetings, having read all assigned material; students who do not attend regularly will not receive credit for the course.  Students are encouraged to listen attentively to others, to draw others into class discussions, and to take risks by asking questions and throwing out new ideas.

Four short papers (40% total).  In 2-4 pages, students should address a central question in the week’s readings, critically evaluate the readings, or analyze underlying issues in the readings.  These papers must be analytical: they should scrutinize the logic and evidence marshaled on behalf of an argument and, where appropriate, analyze the relationship between various arguments.  These papers must be short—no paper shorter than 700 words or longer than 1,200 words will be accepted—so get to the main point fast.  Students may choose for themselves when to write their papers, except that students must submit papers in at least two of the first six weeks of the course.  Students may write more than four papers; in calculating the course grade, only the four highest paper grades will be included.  Papers are due in my box in Harkness 314 by Wednesday morning at 10:00.  No late papers will be accepted without prior permission.

Research paper (30%).  This paper may be an extension of one of the four short papers or it may be a separate project.  Undergraduate papers might review and analyze the secondary literature, with some attention to primary sources where appropriate.  For graduate students, the paper should identify a modest research question, identify existing literature bearing on that question, and lay out a strategy for collecting and analyzing data.  Ideally, the paper will report—briefly—on some preliminary findings.  A review of secondary literature is not sufficient for graduate students; they must locate primary sources and begin some rough examination of data in order to lay out an acceptable research agenda.  The paper should be 10–15 pages in length.  The paper is due April 26; incompletes are strongly discouraged and will not be given without good cause.  By February 27, students must meet with me and receive approval on their topic and approach.

There is no exam.

Jan. 14     Introduction


Jan. 21     Careers and Seniority


Charles O. Jones, “Joseph G. Cannon and Howard W. Smith: An Essay on the Limits of Leadership in the House of RepresentativesJournal of Politics 30 (1968), pp. 617-46.

Nelson W. Polsby, “The Institutionalization of the U.S. House of RepresentativesAmerican Political Science Review 62 (1968), 144–68.

Nelson W. Polsby, Miriam Gallaher, and Barry Spencer Rundquist, “The Growth of the Seniority System in the U.S. House of RepresentativesAmerican Political Science Review 63 (1969), 787–807.

Douglas Price, “Careers and Committees in the American Congress: The Problem of Structural Change,” 28–62 in William O. Aydelotte, ed., The History of Parliamentary Behavior (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977).

Samuel Kernell, “Toward Understanding 19th Century Congressional Careers: Ambition, Competition, and RotationAmerican Journal of Political Science 21 (1977), 669–93.

Jonathan N. Katz and Brian R. Sala, “Careerism, Committee Assignments, and the Electoral ConnectionAmerican Political Science Review 90 (1996), 21–33.

Eric D. Lawrence, Forrest Maltzman, and Paul J. Wahlbeck, “The Politics of Speaker Cannon’s Committee AssignmentsAmerican Journal of Political Science 45 (2001), 551-62.


Jan. 28     The Electoral Connection


David R. Mayhew, Congress: The Electoral Connection (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974).

Michael Les Benedict, “The Party, Going Strong: Congress and Elections in the Mid-19th CenturyCongress & the Presidency 9 (1981–82), 37–60.

Frances E. Lee, “Geographic Politics in the U.S. House of Representatives: Coalition Building and Distribution of BenefitsAmerican Journal of Political Science 47 (2003), 714-28.


Feb. 4      State Development: The Case of the Post Office


Samuel Kernell and Michael P. McDonald, “Congress and America’s Political Development: The Transformation of the Post Office from Patronage to ServiceAmerican Journal of Political Science 43 (1999), 792–811.

Daniel P. Carpenter, “State Building through Reputation Building: Coalitions of Esteem and Program Innovation in the National Postal System, 1883-1913Studies in American Political Development 14 (2000), 121-55.

Samuel Kernell, “Rural Free Delivery as a Critical Test of Alternative Models of American Political DevelopmentStudies in American Political Development 15 (2001), 103-12.

Daniel P. Carpenter, “The Political Foundations of Bureaucratic Autonomy: A Response to KernellStudies in American Political Development 15 (2001), 113-22.

John D. Huber, Charles R. Shipan, and Madelaine Pfahler, “Legislatures and Statutory Control of BureaucracyAmerican Journal of Political Science 45 (2001), 330-45.


Feb. 11    Congressmen in Committees


Richard F. Fenno, Jr., Congressmen in Committees (1973; rpt. Berkeley: Institute of Governmental Studies Press, 1995).

Richard L. Hall, “Participation and Purpose in Committee Decision MakingAmerican Political Science Review 81 (1987), 105–27.

Mary Hawkesworth, “Congressional Enactments of Race-Gender: Toward a Theory of Raced-Gendered InstitutionsAmerican Political Science Review 97 (2003), 529-50.


Feb. 18    Analyzing Committees


Barry R. Weingast and William J. Marshall, “The Industrial Organization of Congress; or, Why Legislatures, Like Firms, Are Not Organized as MarketsJournal of Political Economy 96 (1988), 132–63.

Kenneth A. Shepsle and Barry R. Weingast, “The Institutional Foundations of Committee PowerAmerican Political Science Review 81 (1987), 85–104.

Keith Krehbiel, Kenneth A. Shepsle, and Barry R. Weingast, “Why Are Congressional Committees Powerful?” American Political Science Review 81 (1987), 929–45.

Keith Krehbiel, “Are Congressional Committees Composed of Preference Outliers?” American Political Science Review 84 (1990), 149­–63.

Richard L. Hall and Bernard Grofman, “The Committee Assignment Process and the Conditional Nature of Committee BiasAmerican Political Science Review 84 (1990), 1149–66.

David C. King, “The Nature of Congressional Committee JurisdictionsAmerican Political Science Review 88 (1994), 48–62.


Feb. 25    Leadership and the Development of the Committee System


Joseph Cooper and David W. Brady, “Institutional Context and Leadership Style: The House from Cannon to RayburnAmerican Political Science Review 75 (1981), 411–25.

David W. Rohde and Kenneth A. Shepsle, “Leaders and Followers in the House of Representatives: Reflections on Woodrow Wilson’s Congressional GovernmentCongress & the Presidency 14 (1987), 111–33.

Gerald Gamm and Kenneth A. Shepsle, “Emergence of Legislative Institutions: Standing Committees in the House and Senate, 1810–1825Legislative Studies Quarterly 14 (1989), 39–66.

Joseph Cooper and Cheryl D. Young, “Bill Introduction in the Nineteenth Century: A Study of Institutional ChangeLegislative Studies Quarterly 14 (1989), 67–105.

David T. Canon and Charles Stewart III, “The Evolution of the Committee System in Congress,” 163-89 in Lawrence C. Dodd and Bruce I. Oppenheimer, eds., Congress Reconsidered, 7th ed. (Washington: Congressional Quarterly, 2001).

Charles Stewart III, “The Growth of the Committee System, from Randall to Gillett,” 175–98 in Allen D. Hertzke and Ronald M. Peters, Jr., eds., The Atomistic Congress: An Interpretation of Congressional Change (Armonk, N.Y.: Sharpe, 1992).

Gary W. Cox and Mathew D. McCubbins, “On the Decline of Party Voting in CongressLegislative Studies Quarterly 16 (1991), 547-70.

Mar. 3      Theories of Legislative Organization


David W. Rohde, Parties and Leaders in the Postreform House (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991).

Keith Krehbiel, “Where’s the Party?” British Journal of Political Science 23 (1993), 235–66.

Mark S. Hurwitz, Roger J. Moiles, and David W. Rohde, “Distributive and Partisan Issues in Agriculture Policy in the 104th HouseAmerican Political Science Review 95 (2001), 911-22.

Jason M. Roberts and Steven S. Smith, “Procedural Contexts, Party Strategy, and Conditional Party Voting in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1971-2000American Journal of Political Science 47 (2003), 305-17.


Mar. 17    Committee Power: The Case of Wilbur Mills


John F. Manley, “Wilbur D. Mills: A Study in Congressional InfluenceAmerican Political Science Review 63 (1969), 442–64.

Julian E. Zelizer, Taxing America: Wilbur D. Mills, Congress, and the State, 1945-1975 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).


Mar. 24    Rules


Sarah A. Binder, Minority Rights, Majority Rule: Partisanship and the Development of Congress (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

Gary W. Cox, “On the Effects of Legislative RulesLegislative Studies Quarterly 25 (2000), 169-92.


Mar. 31    Explaining Congressional Change


Eric Schickler, Disjointed Pluralism: Institutional Innovation and the Development of the U.S. Congress (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001).


Apr. 7      Institutions and Outcomes in the Senate


Barbara Sinclair, The Transformation of the U.S. Senate (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989).

Frances E. Lee, “Senate Representation and Coalition Building in Distributive PoliticsAmerican Political Science Review 94 (2000), 59-72.


Apr. 14    Development of Senate Leadership


David J. Rothman, Politics and Power: The United States Senate, 1869–1901 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966), 1-76, 131–36, 159–62.

Margaret Munk, “Origin and Development of the Party Floor Leadership in the United States SenateCapitol Studies 2 (Winter 1974), 23–41.

David Brady, Richard Brody, and David Epstein, “Heterogeneous Parties and Political Organization: The U.S. Senate, 1880–1920Legislative Studies Quarterly 14 (1989), 205–23.

Gerald Gamm and Steven S. Smith, “Emergence of Senate Party Leadership,” 212-38 in Bruce I. Oppenheimer, ed., U.S. Senate Exceptionalism (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2002).

Gerald Gamm and Steven S. Smith, “Last among Equals: The Senate’s Presiding Officer,” 105-34 in Burdett A. Loomis, ed., Esteemed Colleagues: Civility and Deliberation in the U.S. Senate (Washington: Brookings, 2000).

Gerald Gamm and Steven S. Smith, “Policy Leadership and the Development of the Modern Senate,” 287-311 in David W. Brady and Mathew D. McCubbins, eds., Party, Process, and Political Change in Congress: New Perspectives on the History of Congress (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002).

Gerald Gamm and Steven S. Smith, “Steering the Senate: The Consolidation of Senate Party Leadership, 1879-1913,” unpublished.


Apr. 21    Electoral Institutions: The Cases of Statehood Admissions and Direct Election


William H. Riker, “The Senate and American FederalismAmerican Political Science Review 49 (1955), 452–69.

Charles Stewart III and Barry R. Weingast, “Stacking the Senate, Changing the Nation: Republican Rotten Boroughs, Statehood Politics, and American Political DevelopmentStudies in American Political Development 6 (1992), 223–71.

Ronald F. King and Susan Ellis, “Partisan Advantage and Constitutional Change: The Case of the Seventeenth AmendmentStudies in American Political Development 10 (1996), 69–102.

Daniel Wirls, “Regionalism, Rotten Boroughs, Race, and Realignment: The Seventeenth Amendment and the Politics of RepresentationStudies in American Political Development 13 (1999), 1–30.

Susan Ellis and Ronald F. King, “Inter-Party Advantage and Intra-Party Diversity: A Response to WirlsStudies in American Political Development 13 (1999), 31–45.

Daniel Wirls, “Beyond Bias: A Rejoinder to Ellis and KingStudies in American Political Development 13 (1999), 46–49.


Apr. 28    Divided Government


George C. Edwards III, Andrew Barrett, and Jeffrey Peake, “The Legislative Impact of Divided GovernmentAmerican Journal of Political Science 41 (1997), 545–63.

John J. Coleman, “Unified Government, Divided Government, and Party ResponsivenessAmerican Political Science Review 93 (1999), 821–35.

Sarah A. Binder, Stalemate: Causes and Consequences of Legislative Gridlock (Washington: Brookings, 2003).