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Compromise and the American Founding
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Book description

Why is today's political life so polarized? This book analyzes the ways in which the divergent apprehensions of both 'compromise' and the 'people' in seventeenth-century England and France became intertwined once again during the American founding, sometimes with bloody results. Looking at key-moments of the founding, from the first Puritan colonies to the beginning of the Civil War, this book offers answers of contemporary relevance. It argues that Americans unknowingly combined two understandings of the people: the early modern idea of a collection of individuals ruled by a majority of wills and the classic understanding of a corporation hierarchically structured and ruled by reason for the common good. Americans were then able to implement the paradigm of the 'people's two bodies'. Whenever the dialectic between the two has been broken, the results had have a major impact on American politics. Born by accident, this American peculiarity has proven to be a long-lasting one.

Reviews

'The American political tradition has always been driven by principle, and yet somehow open to compromise. In this unprecedented work, Alin Fumurescu investigates how colonists and early Americans - largely through competing and evolving conceptualizations of 'the people' - re-imagined the nature of compromise, its potentials and perils. In light of our current, increasingly polarized and uncompromising politics, the nuanced analysis here is as timely as it is valuable.'

Robert Martin - Hamilton College

‘Meticulously researched, this work expands literature connecting Puritanical influences and the American founding to modern politics.’

K. Casey Source: Choice

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