The Democratic-Republican Societies, 1790-1800: A Documentary Sourcebook of Constitutions, Declarations, Addresses, Resolutions, and Toasts

The Democratic-Republican Societies, 1790-1800: A Documentary Sourcebook of Constitutions, Declarations, Addresses, Resolutions, and Toasts

The Democratic-Republican Societies, 1790-1800: A Documentary Sourcebook of Constitutions, Declarations, Addresses, Resolutions, and Toasts

The Democratic-Republican Societies, 1790-1800: A Documentary Sourcebook of Constitutions, Declarations, Addresses, Resolutions, and Toasts

Synopsis

An important work of scholarship that provides the scholarly community with the "basic" documents of the several Democratic-Republican societies. Previously this primary source material was to be found only in the special collections of libraries and historical societies.... The bibliography is complete and indispensable. By its very nature this is the definitive work, and it must be acquired by all four-year college and university libraries and by major metropolitan librares. Choice

Excerpt

For a long time a major controversy among historians of the postrevolutionary era revolved about the origin of Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican party. One of the questions debated was whether the members of the Democratic- Republican party, which carried Jefferson to the presidency in 1800, were also members of the group that had opposed the adoption of the federal Constitution in 1787 and 1788. Another was how it was possible for Jefferson and his associates to fashion, in so brief a period, a party that soon became dominant.

During the last two decades, various monographs that have appeared have substantially altered the traditional answers to these questions. These studies have demonstrated that in the formation and development of the first political parties, local rather than national, foreign rather than domestic, issues were often paramount and that a large majority of those who were usually considered Republicans throughout our early national period were initially Federalists. The Republicans became the majority party by developing techniques to organize the electorate and get out the vote.

In recent years, too, a growing interest has emerged in the central importance of a republican ideology in the early Republic. It is becoming increasingly clear as a result of new studies that republicanism meant something more to the postrevolutionary generation than the absence of monarchy, more even than the way of structuring political power. It implied a view of human society, a statement about man's nature.

As historians have developed an increasing interest in the organization, techniques, and policies of the state and local parties of our first party system and in the implications of the republican ideology in the postrevolutionary period, a new sensitivity has developed to the Democratic-Republican societies that arose in the United States in 1793 during the widespread enthusiasm for the French Revolution. The story of the societies, their demonstrations in support of the French minister Genêt, their opposition to the pro-British and anti-French Federalist policy after the Proclamation of Neutrality of 1793, their activity in securing the free and uninterrupted navigation of the Mississippi River, their contributions to the wide variety of reforms, their supposed connection with the Whiskey Rebellion, the fear and hatred they stirred among Federalists, climaxed by Washington's unjust denunciaton of them as "self-created" (extragovern-

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