The period from the American Civil War to the Second World War was a quiet one in the history of normative federal theory. Writers such as Otto von Gierke, Louis Le Fur, A.V. Dicey, and James Bryce developed an institutional and comparative approach to the study of federalism. Their focus was mainly on the formal aspects of federalism. Whatever their ideological perspective, most of the writers in this period considered federalism to be a conservative legalistic framework, a perception well encapsulated in Harold Laski’s critical essay on the “obsolescence of federalism” (1939).