Guest Essayist: Professor Will Morrisey, William and Patricia LaMothe Chair in the United States Constitution at Hillsdale College

Liberty and the Administrative State: Goodnow’s Gambit

Hillsdale’s Reader on the U. S. Constitution begins with Thomas Jefferson and ends with Ronald Reagan. Of the many `contributors’ to the anthology, none is less-remembered today than Frank Goodnow, who never won an election for public office, having spent his career almost entirely in academia.  Unlike John Dewey, another professor, Goodnow wrote no books that have been widely read beyond his own generation. Yet he stands as an important figure in the Progressive movement, particularly with respect to his championing of Progressivism’s most distinctive institutional feature, the administrative state. Read more

Progressive political science was based on the assumption that society could be organized in such a way that social ills would disappear. Goodnow, president of Johns Hopkins University and the first president of the American Political Science Association, helped pioneer the idea that separating politics from administration was the key to progress. In this speech, given at Brown University, he addresses the need to move beyond the ideas of the Founders.


The end of the eighteenth century was marked by the formulation and general acceptance by thinking men in Europe of a political philosophy which laid great emphasis on individual private rights. Read more