Burgess, John W. (1842–1931)

views updated

BURGESS, JOHN W. (1842–1931)

John W. Burgess was professor of political science and constitutional law at Columbia University (1876–1912) where he founded America's first graduate department of political science. Trained in Germany, Burgess sought to develop an American political science based on historical determinism rather than the natural rights assumptions of the declaration of independence. He saw the civil war as a necessary step in the process by which federalism gave way to nationalism. He understood the Constitution as creating the two spheres of government and liberty, and as granting rights to individuals rather than protecting preexisting rights. His most important book was Political Science and Comparative Constitutional Law (1890).

Dennis J. Mahoney

About this article

Burgess, John W. (1842–1931)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article