Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-5c569c448b-q9r9l Total loading time: 0.489 Render date: 2022-07-06T11:51:41.927Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

6 - How to Read Democracy in the Early United States

from Part I - How to Read (in) Early America

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 November 2021

Bryce Traister
Affiliation:
University of British Columbia, Okanagan
Get access

Summary

Americans know the story of democracy: how the Framers built a government with branches that would check and balance, that would derive its authority from sovereign citizens, filtered and refined by their elected representatives. Americans may refer to our system as “democracy” but the representative republican framework provided by the Framers ensured the safe democratization of our country over time. This well-rehearsed story frames American democracy as a bequest from the Framers. Yet this powerful founding story is a victor’s tale, designed to erase from collective historical memory a very real battle with a robust alternative model of democratic theory and practice that was flourishing – much to the Framers’ consternation – in the early nation. This alternative democracy originated in the daily practices of ordinary colonists. Their vernacular democracy generated and motored revolution; and though the political elite embraced this participatory and equalitarian practice, they later pulled away, seeking in their words to “tame” the democratic enthusiasm and power of ordinary American citizens even as they drew on that power (renamed “sovereignty”) to authorize the representative federal republicanism they offered as a containment device. Knowing about vernacular democracy enables readers to see its record in the literature of the early United States.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×