Synopses & Reviews
In this innovative study, David Waldstreicher investigates the importance of political festivals in the early American republic. Drawing on newspapers, broadsides, diaries, and letters, he shows how patriotic celebrations and their reproduction in a rapidly expanding print culture helped connect local politics to national identity.
Waldstreicher reveals how Americans worked out their political differences in creating a festive calendar. Using the Fourth of July as a model, members of different political parties and social movements invented new holidays celebrating such events as the ratification of the Constitution, Washington's birthday, Jefferson's inauguration, and the end of the slave trade. They used these politicized rituals, he argues, to build constituencies and to make political arguments on a national scale.
While these celebrations enabled nonvoters to participate intimately in the political process and helped dissenters forge effective means of protest, they had their limits as vehicles of democratization or modes of citizenship, Waldstreicher says. Exploring the interplay of region, race, class, and gender in the development of a national identity, he demonstrates that an acknowledgment of the diversity and conflict inherent in the process is crucial to any understanding of American politics and culture.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Introduction: The Practices of Nationalism
PART ONE: Revolution, Nation, State
1. The Revolutionary Politics of Celebration
Festivity and the Origins of American Politics
Celebrating the American Future
2. The Constitution of Federal Feeling
The Crisis of Virtue and the Virtues of "Crisis"
Celebrating Natural Aristocracy: From Virtue to Sensibility
Inventing Federalist America
3. National Characters
George Washington's Sentimental Journeys
"I Live Here in the Midst of Perpetual Fetes"
National Character: Ideology, Theology, Practice
PART TWO: Elections, Sections, and Races
4. The Celebration of Politics
1800: A Different Kind of Revolution
Nationalism as Partisan Antipartisanship
Celebratory Politics as the Early Republic's Public Sphere
5. Regionalism, Nationalism, and the Geopolitics of Celebration
New England as America
America Going South
West Meets East
6. Mixed Feelings: Race and Nation
Nothing But Union
"Declaration of Independence! Where art thou now?"
"The Africans and their descendants, will celebrate . . ."
Epilogue: "You May Celebrate, I Must Mourn"
1. The Repeal
3. The Continental Almanac
4. Federal Pillars, March 1788
5. Federal Pillars, August 1788
6. Reception of Washington at Trenton
7. Proclamation for a Federal Thanksgiving
8. Abraham Bishop
9. The Jeffersoniad
10. Black Cockade Funeral
11. Toasts, for Fourth July 1804
12. Governor Hancock's Ball
13. A Peep into the Antifederal Club
14. Hunters of Kentucky
15. The Battle of Plattsburg
16. Bobalition Broadside, 1816
17. Bobalition Broadside, 1822
18. Reply to Bobalition Broadside, 1819