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This groundbreaking book is the first to look at administration and administrative law in the earliest days of the American republic. Contrary to conventional understandings, Mashaw demonstrates that from the very beginning Congress delegated vast discretion to administrative officials and armed them with extrajudicial adjudicatory, rulemaking, and enforcement authority. The legislative and administrative practices of the U.S. Constitution's first century created an administrative constitution hardly hinted at in its formal text. Beyond describing a history that has previously gone largely unexamined, this book, in the author's words, will "demonstrate that there has been no precipitous fall from a historical position of separation-of-powers grace to a position of compromise; there is not a new administrative constitution whose legitimacy should be understood as not only contestable but deeply problematic."

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