Democratic-Republican Societies, 1790-1800

Democratic-Republican Societies, 1790-1800

Democratic-Republican Societies, 1790-1800

Democratic-Republican Societies, 1790-1800

Excerpt

The period following the adoption of the Constitution and the inauguration of George Washington to the presidency of the new republic, was, until the rise of modern critical scholarship, treated as though it were some mythical time when the administrators of government were demigods; nor are all recent scholars entirely free of this tendency. Many have written as though they believed that all the actions of the great Revolutionary hero and first president were infallible, and that any dissent from this belief is both untrue and unpatriotic. Consequently, the loud voice of dissidence that arose in the I790's has too often been lightly dismissed as an aberration from fundamental American principles, the result in a large part of the subversive activities of French origin. According to this view, numbers of people and leaders went awry, and the period of their apostasy is of little importance to the main sequence of American development.

This study presents a different approach to the closing decade of the eighteenth century. It has been concerned not alone with the deeds of the influential, but also with the thought and action of those whom some have called the unimportant people. The frame of reference of the dissertation is the author's firm belief in the philosophy and methodology of democracy. To the writer, democracy has as its principal tenet that men, women and children can and should share increasingly in the decisions that affect their lives; and that the vast body of humble people are, in the long run, the best able to determine the direction of their affairs.

The results of a democratic approach to the study of postRevolutionary America are here presented in the following pages. The author makes no claim that this approach is unique. The inimitable scholar, Charles A. Beard, in his own words, "has spent . . .

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