Democracy, Revolution, and Monarchism in Early American Literature

By Paul Downes | Go to book overview

Notes

INTRODUCTION: THE SPELL OF DEMOCRACY
1
Haiti, of course, could be said to have been the site of the eighteenth century's most radically democratic revolution, one from which the United States and Europe had — and have —much to learn. See C. L. R. James'The Black Jacobins.
2
Jonathan Mayhew was ordained in 1747 at the West Church in Boston. A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers “created a furor in Boston” after it was delivered and then published in early 1750. The sermon was circulated and read throughout the colonies in the years preceding the revolution. See Warner, ed., American Sermons, 901— 2.
3
Letter to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826 in Jefferson, Collected Works, XII, 477.
4
It would not be out of place here to recall Marx's reference to the “mystical” commodity of capitalism, an object “full of 'theological niceties.'” See Balibar, Philosophy of Marx, 59–60: “Contrary to what Max Weber would later assert, the modern world is not 'disenchanted,' but enchanted, precisely insofar as it is the world of objects of value and objectified values. ”
5
Letter to David Humphreys, August 14, 1787 in Dumbauld, ed., The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 70.
6
Letter to the elder Mirabeau (July 26, 1767) quoted in Furet, Interpreting the French Revolution, 31.
7
See Freneau's “To A Republican With Mr. Paine's Rights of Man, ” in The Poems of Philip Freneau, III, 91.
8
The phrase comes from Wood, Radicalism, 8.
9
“Spell, ” Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, 1989. All subsequent definitions of “Spell” used in this chapter come from the same source.
10
As an allegory for the revolution this scene calls to mind Paul De Man's lines in his chapter on Rousseau's Social Contract in Allegories of Reading: “The metaphorical substitution of one's own for the divine voice is blasphemous, although the necessity for this deceit is as implacable as its eventual denunciation, in the future undoing of any State or any political institution” (274–5).
11
In “Declarations of Independence, ” Derrida dwells on the “are and ought to be” of Jefferson's founding document:

-182-

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