Most Americans would probably be surprised to hear that, in 1959, James Burnham, a leading political thinker questioned whether Congress would survive, and whether the Executive Branch of the American government would become a dictatorship. In the last decade, members of Congress have impeached a president, rejected or refused to consider presidential nominees, and appear in the media criticizing the chief executive. Congress does not exactly appear to be at risk of expiring. Regardless of how we perceive Congress today, more than forty years after Congress and the American Tradition was written, Burnham's questions, arguments, and political analysis still have much to tell us about freedom and political order.

Burnham originally intended Congress and the American Tradition as a response to liberal critics of Senator McCarthy's investigations of communist influence in the United States. He developed it into a detailed analysis of the history and functioning of Congress, its changing relationship with the Executive Branch, and the danger of despotism, even in a democratic society.

The book is organized into three distinct parts. "The American System of Government," analyzes the concept of government, ideology and tradition, power, and the place and function of Congress within the American government. "The Present Position of Congress," explores its law-making power, Congressional commissions, treaties, investigatory power, and proposals for Congressional reform. "The Future of Congress," discusses democracy and liberty, and ultimately asks, "Can Congress Survive?" Michael Henry's new introduction sheds much insight into Burnham's writings and worldview, combining biography and penetrating scholarly analysis. He makes it clear why this work is of continuing importance to political theoreticians, historians, philosophers, and those interested in American government.

James Burnham (1905-1987) began his career as a professor of philosophy at New York University. He co-founded, with William F. Buckley, Jr., The National Review. His books include The Managerial Revolution, The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, and Suicide of the West.

Michael Henry received his advanced degree in political theory. He has been teaching philosophy at St. John's University in New York since 1977.

part One|123 pages

The American System of Government

chapter I|13 pages

The Miracle of Government

chapter II|18 pages

Ideology and Tradition

chapter III|11 pages

The Paradox of Sovereignty

chapter IV|17 pages

The Diffusion of Power

chapter V|13 pages

Power and Limits

chapter VI|16 pages

Public and Private

chapter VII|12 pages

The Place of Congress

chapter VIII|21 pages

The Traditional Balance

part Two|154 pages

The Present Position of Congress

chapter IX|13 pages

The Fall of Congress

chapter X|17 pages

The Law-Making Power

chapter XI|12 pages

The Rise of the Fourth Branch

chapter XII|15 pages

The Purse

chapter XIII|10 pages

And The Sword

chapter XIV|11 pages

The Problem of Treaties

chapter XV|16 pages

The Escape of the Treaty Power

chapter XVI|15 pages

The Investigatory Power

chapter XVII|17 pages

The Attack on Investigations

chapter XVIII|9 pages

Theoretical Gravediggers

chapter XIX|9 pages

The Case Against Congress

chapter XX|8 pages

The Reform of Congress

part Three|74 pages

The Future of Congress

chapter XXI|9 pages

Democracy and Liberty

chapter XXII|11 pages

The Logic of Demo Cratism

chapter XXIII|10 pages

Conditions of Liberty

chapter XXIV|6 pages

What is a majority?

chapter XXV|16 pages

Leader of the Masses, Assembly of the People

chapter XXVI|20 pages

The Miracle of Government