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Liberty and Power: The Politics of Jacksonian America (American Century)by Harry L Watson
Synopses & Reviews
The raucous political debates of Jacksonian America often seemed to pit those who defended the ideals of liberty against those who asserted power. Harry L. Watson argues that these were serious policy disputes about the future of the Republic and the nature of its society and economy, and they led to intensified public involvement in politics and enduring political parties. His narrative shows how religious revivalism, new waves of immigration, westward expansion, the deeply divisive issue of Afro-American slavery, nascent industrialism, and other socioeconomic forces put strains on America's political framework and, in the end, transformed it.
"This is a well-written and concise synthesis of Jacksonian politics that places the era's social upheavals at center stage. By placing political discourse within the context of the revolutionary ideals of Republicanism, Watson explains that political turmoil
as a vigorous debate over the policy and future of the Republic. In this way, the population explosion, technological, communication, and transportation revolutions (all wrapped up here as the Market Revolution) are central to the era's political controversies. Andrew Jackson, of course, is the dominant political actor. But in the face of new economic and social developments, Jackson harked back to a simpler time, a time of republican virture. Ironically, Jackson sought this Arcadia by creating a mass-based party. Opposition figures appealed to their followers by defending liberties trampled on by heightened executive power. Out of this confrontation came the second party system." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
Includes bibliographical references (p. 255-265) and index.
About the Author
Harry L. Watson, professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is the author of Jacksonian Politics and Community Conflict and An Independent People.
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