New Approaches to the 
Political History of the Early American Republic

Edited by Jeffrey L. Pasley, Andrew W. Robertson, 
and David Waldstreicher

Still Available from University of North Carolina Press
click for excerpt

NOW AVAILABLE: A scintillating sequel! 
Beyond the Valley of the Founders: 
Democracy in Early America, and After (2008)

Reports of political history's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Contrary to complaints that modern U.S. historians' absorption with questions of race, class, and gender have crowded the story of American democracy out of the history books, a new generation of scholars is taking historians' oldest subject in exciting new directions. Beyond the Founders brings together 14 younger and like-minded senior historians of early America in an effort to showcase, map, and in a final essay, assess the new approaches.

The results may be controversial in some circles. Treaties and constitutional thought get little coverage here. While all these scholars study the era in which the United States was founded, this is not your founding fathers' political history. Taking inspiration from the new cultural and social histories rather than reacting against them, these newest political historians place the founders in a much wider and more diverse political world than many readers of early American history will have encountered.

As seen here, politics in the Early Republic was not just about white men in wigs trading disquisitions on political theory and competing for places on pedestals and currency. In ways formal and informal, symbolic and tactile, this political world encompassed blacks, women, entrepreneurs, Indians, and rioters, as well as the Adamses and Jeffersons and Jacksons, all struggling in their own ways to shape the new nation and express their own ideas of American democracy. It was a world in which sartorial choices, notions of manhood, drunken toasts, and even giant hunks of cheese could be just as important, and just as political, as votes or speeches.

Beyond the Founders demonstrates that political history's comeback need not be a backlash. This new political history does not reject the founders as a subject, but it does insist that neither the invention of American politics nor the significance of the Early Republic be grasped solely, or even mainly, from the top down.


Introduction: "Beyond the Founders" David Waldstreicher 
Jeffrey L. Pasley
 Andrew W. Robertson

PART ONE: Democracy and Other Practices

1. "The Cheese and the Words: Popular Political Culture and Participatory Democracy in the Early American Republic" Jeffrey L. Pasley
University of Missouri
2. "Voting Rites Acts: Electioneering Ritual, 1790-1820"  Andrew W. Robertson
CUNY Graduate Center
Lehman College
Colgate University
3. "Why Thomas Jefferson And African Americans Wore Their Politics On Their Sleeves: Dress And Mobilization Between American Revolutions" David Waldstreicher
Temple University

PART TWO: Gender, Race, and Other Identities

4. "Women and Party Conflict in the Early Republic" Rosemarie Zagarri
George Mason University
5. "The 'Little Emperor': Aaron Burr, Dandyism and the Treason Trial of 1807" Nancy Isenberg
University of Tulsa
6. "Young Federalists, Masculinity, and Partisanship during the War of 1812" Albrecht Koschnik
Florida State University
7. "Protest in Black and White: The Formation and Transformation of an African American Political Community During the Early Republic" Richard Newman
Rochester Institute of Technology

PART THREE: Norms and Forms

8. "Consent, Civil Society, and the Public Sphere in the Age Of Revolution and the Early American Republic" John L. Brooke 
Ohio State University 
9. "Beyond the Myth of Consensus: The Struggle to Define the Right to Bear Arms in the Early Republic" Saul Cornell
Ohio State University
10. "The Federalists' Transatlantic Cultural Offensive of 1798 and the Moderation of American Democratic Discourse " Seth Cotlar
Willamette University

PART FOUR: Interests, Spaces, and Other Structures

11. "Continental Politics: Liberalism, Nationalism, and the Appeal of Texas in the 1820s" Andrew R.L. Cayton
Miami University (Ohio)
12. "Private Enterprise, Public Good? Communications Deregulation as a National Political Issue, 1839-1851" Richard R. John
University of Illinois at Chicago
13. "Popular Movements and Party Rule: The New York Anti-Rent Wars and the Jacksonian Political Order" Reeve Huston
Duke University
14. Commentary: "Déjà Vu All Over Again: Is There a New New Political History?" William G. Shade
Lehigh University

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