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Capitalism and a New Social Order: The Republican Vision of the 1790s (Anson G. Phelps Lectureship on Early AME)by Joyce Appleby
Synopses & Reviews
In 1800 the Jeffersonian Republicans, decisive victors over what they considered elitist Federalism, seized the potential for change in the new American nation. They infused in it their vision of a society of economically progressive, politically equal, and socially liberated individuals. This book examines the fusion of ideas and circumstances which made possible this triumph of America's first popular political movement.
When the Federalists convened in New York to form the "more perfect union" promised by the new United Sates Constitution, they expected to build a strong central government led by the revolutionary members of the old colonial elite. This expectation was dashed by the emergence of a vigorous opposition led by Thomas Jefferson but manned by a new generation of popular politicians: interlopers, émigrés, polemicists—what the Federalists called the "mushroom candidates." They turned the 1790s into an age of passion by raising basic questions about the characters of the American experiment in government.
When the Federalists defenders of traditional European notions of order and authority came under attack, they sought to discredit the radical beliefs of the Jeffersonians. Although the ideas that fueled the Jeffersonian opposition came from several strains of liberal and libertarian thought, it was the specific prospect of an expanding commercial agricutlure that gave substance to their conviction that Americans might divorce themselves from the precepts of the past.
Thus, capitalism figured prominently in the Jeffersonian social vision. Aroused by the Federalists' efforts to bind the nation's wealthy citizens to a strengthened central government, the Jeffersonians unified ordinary men in the southern and middle states, mobilizing on the national level the power of the popular vote. Their triumph in 1800 represented a new sectional alliance as well as a potent fusion of morality and materialism.
While the United States cherishes its identity as a nation of immigrants, the country's immigration policies are historically characterized by cycles of openness and xenophobia. Outbursts of anti-immigrant sentiment among political leaders and in the broader public are fueled by a debate over who is worthy of being considered for full incorporation into the nation, and who is incapable of assimilating and taking on the characteristics and responsibilities associated with being an American.
In Illegal, Alien, or Immigrant, Lina Newton carefully dissects the political debates over contemporary immigration reform. Beginning with a close look at the disputes of the 1980s and 1990s, she reveals how a shift in legislator's portrayals of illegal immigrants—from positive to overwhelmingly negative—facilitated the introduction and passing of controversial reforms. Newton's analysis reveals how rival descriptions of immigrant groups and the flattering or disparaging myths that surround them define, shape, and can ultimately determine fights over immigration policy. Her pathbreaking findings will shed new light on the current political battles, their likely outcomes, and where to go from here.
About the Author
Joyce Appleby is Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is the author of Economic Thought and Ideology in Seventeenth-Century England which was awarded the 1979 Berkshire book prize.
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