Print ISBN: 978-1-68217-700-6
# of Pages: 574
# of Volumes: 2
Print List Price: $295
e-ISBN: 978-1-68217-701-3
eBook User Price: $295
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Defining Documents in American History: Political Campaigns, Candidates, & Debates (1787-2017)

Editor: Michael Shally-Jensen, PhD
May 2018


This 2-volume set offers documents and commentary that showcase the American political process.

Defining Documents in American History: Political Campaigns, Candidates & Debates (1787-2017), offers in-depth analysis of sixty-four speeches, letters, inaugural addresses, pamphlets, and debates. The material is organized under seven historical groupings:

  • The First and Second Party Systems, 1787-1854
  • The Third Party System, 1854-96
  • The Fourth Party System, 1896-1932
  • The Fifth Party System, 1932-60
  • The Sixth Party System, Part 1, 1960-74
  • The Sixth Party System, Part 2, 1974-2016
  • The Seventh Party System, 2016-Current

These documents provide a compelling view of what makes America's political system so engaging and enduring: discussion, debate, and free, open elections leading to the order transfer of power. The documents prove that the system is not always polite, but it is always vibrant, as well as vital to a strong democratic government.

Designed for high school and college students, the aim of the series is to advance the study of primary source historical document as an important activity in learning about history.

Essay Format

Political Campaigns, Candidates & Debates features sixty-four documents that span the country's history. The set begins just as a new nation has been declared, in 1787, and continues through the 2017 election of the nation's first openly transgender official. 

Each document is supported by a critical essay, written by historians and teachers, that includes a Summary Overview, Defining Moment, Author Biography, Document Analysis, and Essential Themes. An important feature of each essay is a close reading and analysis of the primary source that develops themes, such as the author's rhetorical purpose, social or class position, point of view, and other relevant issues. In addition, essays are organized by sections, listed above, highlighting major issues of the apolitical process: slavery, global wars, civil rights, voting rights, transgender equality and nationalism.

Each section begins with a brief introduction that defines questions and problems underlying the subjects addressed in the historical documents. Each essay also includes a Bibliography and Additional Reading section for further research.

View a Full List of Defining Document Titles