This book investigates the history of organizational politics in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1789 to the present. It argues that the history of how speakership elections developed was driven by a desire to establish an organizational cartel in the House. It examines the centrality of the party caucus for the organization of the House, and more specifically how the majority party came to own the chief House officers, especially the Speaker. It also discusses two themes about Congress and its role in the American political system: the construction of mass political parties in the early nineteenth century and the role that political parties play in guiding the agenda of Congress today. This chapter provides an overview of the data and methods used by the book as well as the chapters that follow.
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