In class writing assignment
Respond to the following series of comments and questions in a well-crafted, well-organized essay. Please don’t try to answer the individual questions in the order they are posed, nor try to respond to the comments in the order presented. Instead, read the following paragraphs and reflect on the overall meaning of the assignment. Use specific examples from the lectures and books to support your argument. You MUST use information from lectures. Using only examples from the book will result in a poor grade. Instead, try to use the books to compliment the themes and details raised in lectures.
Historians of the 1890s through 1950s focused their studies of the early republic on the story of an emerging democracy. They glorified the story of the common man, exalted the life and presidency of Andrew Jackson, and triumphed an American society and political culture that opened suffrage to the masses (always defined as white men). But, in the late 1960s a new school of thought emerged that focused on the early idea of republicanism. Ideas about classical republicanism rested at the heart of this new examination
of revolutionary ideology. What was republicanism? What did it mean to early Americans? What aspects emerged in conflicts that broke out in the early years of the infant republic? From Shays’s Rebellion to the Whiskey Rebellion? Confederations to Constitutions? Banking Schemes to Sedition Acts?
While previous historians had examined the 1830s as the natural byproduct of a revolution about “taxation without representation,” younger scholars focused on the ways that republicanism colored the language independence and good governance. The 1830s were not a period of unbridled progress, they argued, it was a separation from revolutionary ideals as an ideological revolution gave way to an industrial one. Early Americans became befuddled by mysterious systems of credit, angered by seemingly intrusive government agencies, and annoyed by an increasingly mobile and immoral society. Some attempts were made to wed republican ideals to the new market systems. How did these attempts fail? How did Americans react to the perils of progress wrought by the Market Revolution? At the same time, internal pressures of an increasingly divergent society—north and south, east and west—threatened to tear the world asunder and expose the deep scars of slavery.
How has our new understanding of the period (clearly a more critical one) changed the focus of early American historians? Who now belongs to early American history? How is the rise of democracy treated? How are democratic politicians treated in the literature? Now, think about the events discussed in class in lecture and readings and imagine how the new framework has changed the way we look at these things.
Books that may be referenced are:
Slaughter, Thomas. The Whiskey Rebellion: Frontier Epilogue to the American Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. ISBN 0195051912
Freeman, Joanne B. Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.
Johnson, Paul E. A Shopkeeper’s Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York, 1815-1837. New York: Hill and Wang, 2004 edition. ISBN 0809016354
Wallace, Anthony F. C. The Long, Bitter Trail: Andrew Jackson and the Indians. New York: Hill and Wang, 1993.
Cohen, Patricia Cline. The Murder of Helen Jewett: The Life and Death of a Prostitute in Nineteenth-Century New York. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998. ISBN 0679740759
Johnson, Walter, Soul by Soul: Life Inside the Antebellum Slave Market. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001. ISBN 0674005392
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Appleby, Joyce. Republicanism and Ideology. American Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 4, Republicanism in the History and Historiography of the United States. (Autumn, 1985), pp. 461-473.
Mcgurk, John. "A New Look at Civic Republicanism." Contemporary Review, Vol. 283, October 2003.
Slaughter, Thomas P. The Whiskey Rebellion: Frontier Epilogue to the American Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.