Publishing and Readership in Revolutionary France and America: A Symposium at the Library of Congress

By Carol Armbruster | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

Carol Armbruster

Representation, or representative government, may be considered as a new invention, unknown in Montesquieu's time; it was almost impossible to put into practice before the invention of printing.

A Commentary and review of Montesquieu's "Spirit of Laws"--Comte Antoine Louis Claude Destutt de Tracy.

Throughout the eighteenth century the international exchange of ideas, ideologies, and even personalities took place with relative ease among the countries of Europe and the Americas. Communication in the medium of print between France and colonial and early republican America was a vital factor in the events within each country as well as between them. Their struggles for representative government took place an ocean apart and in different political and social contexts, but their shared interest and participation in each other's revolution epitomized a new sense of change and opportunity for the future of humanity.

The French and the American revolutions were understood as acts of political will directed by enlightened populations. This kind of revolution, unlike any previous, had implications far beyond the borders of any one country. Fundamental to this enlightened political activity was the role of information and education, a large proportion of which was circulated in print media. Print media were thus directly related to the mobilization of a population in their revolutionary efforts to establish representative government.

Thomas Jefferson, a significant figure in both the French and American struggles for liberty and constitutional government, was well known during his lifetime for his extensive acquisition and voracious reading of books

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1
Philadelphia: Printed by William Duane, 1811, p. 19. Originally written in French about 1807.

-ix-

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Publishing and Readership in Revolutionary France and America: A Symposium at the Library of Congress
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Publishing as a Profession *
  • Publishing and the Law 59
  • The Dilemmas of Republican Publishing, 1793-1799 61
  • Reading 115
  • Male and Female: Words and Images in the French Revolution 137
  • Publication and the Public Sphere 167
  • Collecting and Using Materials 175
  • Some Eighteenth-Century American Book Collectors, Their Collections, and Their Legacies 191
  • Select Bibliography 205
  • About the Contributors 207
  • Index 211
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