Government by Dissent: Protest, Resistance, and Radical Democratic Thought in the Early American Republic

Government by Dissent: Protest, Resistance, and Radical Democratic Thought in the Early American Republic

Government by Dissent: Protest, Resistance, and Radical Democratic Thought in the Early American Republic

Government by Dissent: Protest, Resistance, and Radical Democratic Thought in the Early American Republic

Synopsis

"The most thorough examination we have of how early Americans wrestled with what types of political dissent should be permitted, even promoted, in the new republic they were forming.Martin shows the modern relevance of their debates in ways that all will find valuable- even those who dissent from his views!" - Rogers M. Smith, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania We generally think of democracy as government by consent; a government of, by, and for the people.We commonly downplay or even denigrate the role of dissent in democratic governments. But in Government by Dissent, Robert W.T. Martin explores the idea that the people most important in a flourishing democracy are those who challenge the status quo. The American political radicals of the 1790s understood, articulated, and defended the crucial necessity of dissent to democracy. Dissent has rarely been the mainstream of democratic politics. But the figures explored here- forgotten farmers as well as revered framers- understood that dissent is always the essential undercurrent of democracy and is often the critical crosscurrent. Only by returning to their political insights can we hope to reinvigorate our own popular politics. Robert W.T. Martin is Professor of Government and Chair of the Government Department at Hamilton College. His works include The Free and Open Press: The Founding of American Democratic Press Liberty, 1640-1800 (2001), and The Many Faces of Alexander Hamilton (co-edited with Douglas Ambrose, 2006), both from NYU Press.
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