Rude Republic by Glenn C. Altschuler
Americans and Their Politics in the Nineteenth Century.

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Synopsis

What did politics and public affairs mean to those generations of Americans who first experienced democratic self-rule? Taking their cue from vibrant political campaigns and very high voter turnouts, historians have depicted the nineteenth century as an era of intense and widespread political enthusiasm. But rarely have these historians examined popular political engagement directly, or within the broader contexts of day-to-day life. In this bold and in-depth look at Americans and their politics, Glenn Altschuler and Stuart Blumin argue for a more complex understanding of the "space" occupied by politics in nineteenth-century American society and culture. Mining such sources as diaries, letters, autobiographies, novels, cartoons, contested-election voter testimony to state legislative committees, and the partisan newspapers of representative American communities ranging from Massachusetts and Georgia to Texas and California, the authors explore a wide range of political actions and attitudes. They consider the enthusiastic commitment celebrated by historians together with various forms of skepticism, conflicted engagement, detachment, and hostility that rarely have been recognized as part of the American political landscape. Rude Republic sets the political parties and their noisy and attractive campaign spectacles, as well as the massive turnout of voters on election day, within the communal social structure and calendar, the local human landscape of farms, roads, and county towns, and the organizational capacities of emerging nineteenth-century institutions. Political action and engagement are set, too, within the tide of events: the construction of the mass-based party system, the gathering crisis over slavery and disunion, and the gradual expansion of government (and of cities) in the post-Civil War era. By placing the question of popular engagement within these broader social, cultural, and historical contexts, the authors bring new understanding to the complex trajectory of American democracy.

 

About Glenn C. Altschuler

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Glenn Altschuler is Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies and Dean of the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions at Cornell University. He is the author of several books on American history and popular culture, including Changing Channels: America in TV Guide. Blumin is Professor of American History at Cornell University.
 
Published March 13, 2000 by Princeton University Press. 328 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Journalists and reformers of the era criticized the political arena as a sinkhole of vice and crudeness—at best, an unpleasant duty for gentlemen—and cartoonists savagely caricatured repulsive party bosses and uncouth voters.

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Publishers Weekly

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Nineteenth-century Americans, Cornell professors Altschuler and Blumin argue, were political animals, and politics did not stop at the voting booth--it encroached upon everyday life, with references t

Feb 28 2000 | Read Full Review of Rude Republic: Americans and ...

Publishers Weekly

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Nineteenth-century Americans, Cornell professors Altschuler and Blumin argue, were political animals, and politics did not stop at the voting booth--it encroached upon everyday life, with references to elections and political parties popping up in plays, songs, parades and teatime small talk.

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