Assistant Professor of Political Science Zachary Callen’s first book, “Railroads and American Political Development: Infrastructure, Federalism, and State Building,” was published in August 2016 by the University Press of Kansas.
The book investigates how transportation infrastructure has shifted from being a local issue into a national responsibility. In the antebellum era, railroads, roads, and canals were built by state and local governments. However, local governments often lacked the resources and coordination capacity to successfully build effective railroads. Not surprisingly, states turned to the national government for aid in building railroads. However, national intervention also changed the American transportation system, favoring the interests of large cities on the Atlantic coasts over frontier states’ needs. The book concludes by arguing that American federalism has an inherent tendency to build the political center, and reminder readers of the importance of infrastructure in shaping our political fortunes.