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2023 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

The Democratic Moment in the American Revolution

Author : Skadi Siiri Krause

Published in: Republicanism and Democracy

Publisher: Springer International Publishing

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Abstract

During the War of Independence, republican legitimation strategies were in the foreground. Republican arguments also played a major role in the establishment of the new republics and the disputes between Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Nonetheless, the broad public discourse during the debates on the ratification of the new constitution opened up a new awareness of the role of the public. In the 1790s, this consciousness was reinterpreted democratically, not least through the democratic societies that now emerged. However, the importance of the public and the involvement of citizens in state and society was only theoretically worked up at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

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Footnotes
1
This is a point that Tocqueville elaborated very clearly in his description of local government in the United States (Tocqueville, 2010, vol. 1, 118, 153; vol. 2, 583–585).
 
3
For instance, in The People the Best Governors, or, a Plan of Government Founded on the Just Principles of Natural Freedom ([O. A.], 1776, 13).
 
4
Only Rhode Island turned down Congress’s offer and did not send delegates.
 
6
“While it was agitated, the debates of the convention were kept an impenetrable secret, and no opportunity was given for well informed men to offer their sentiments upon the subject. […] Since that, it has been the object of universal attention- it has been thought of by every reflecting man-been discussed in a public and private manner, in conversation and in print; its defects have been pointed out, and every objection to it stated; able advocates have written in its favour, and able opponents have written against it. And what is the result? It cannot be denied but that the general opinion is, that it contains material errors, and requires important amendments. This then being the general sentiment, both of the friends and foes of the system, can it be doubted, that another convention would concur in such amendments as would quiet the fears of the opposers, and effect a great degree of union on the subject?-An event most devoutly to be wished” (A Plebian, “An Address to the People of the State of New York (New York, April 17, 1788),” in Kaminski et al., 2004, 951).
 
7
The model was the convention of Massachusetts.
 
8
In France, at the same time, the revolutionaries took up the argument of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who in his Contract social of 1762 had again strengthened this republican axiom.
 
9
The only exceptions were Jefferson and Madison (see Yarbrough, 1998).
 
10
Their own constitutions and statutes were already models of a democratic self-image. They committed themselves to the free and equal participation of all their members in the content orientation and organization of the societies, which included the election of all offices as well as prescribed rotation mechanisms, and they declared their disgust for any repression of freedom of expression, both inside and outside their ranks (Independent Chronicle, January 5, 1795, Principles, Articles, and Regulations, Agreed Upon by the Members of the Democratic Society in Philadelphia, May 30, 1793, 6–8; Constitution of the Democratic Society of the City of New York, 5–15).
 
11
Two states, New York and Delaware, even had rudimentary laws to fund public schools (Foner, P., 1976, 13–15; Link, 1942, 156–174).
 
13
George Washington, Speech to Both Houses of Congress, November 19, 1794, https://​www.​presidency.​ucsb.​edu/​documents/​sixth-annual-address-congress.
 
16
Chipman to Hamilton, June 9, 1794, https://​founders.​archives.​gov/​documents/​Hamilton/​01-16-02-0415; see Daily Advertiser [New York], February 9, 1795; New York Journal, February 18, 1795.
 
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Metadata
Title
The Democratic Moment in the American Revolution
Author
Skadi Siiri Krause
Copyright Year
2023
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-15780-6_6