The Rise of American Democracy by Sean Wilentz
Jefferson to Lincoln

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Synopsis

A grand political history in a fresh new style of how the elitist young American republic became a rough-and-tumble democracy.

In this magisterial work, Sean Wilentz traces a historical arc from the earliest days of the republic to the opening shots of the Civil War. One of our finest writers of history, Wilentz brings to life the era after the American Revolution, when the idea of democracy remained contentious, and Jeffersonians and Federalists clashed over the role of ordinary citizens in government of, by, and for the people. The triumph of Andrew Jackson soon defined this role on the national level, while city democrats, Anti-Masons, fugitive slaves, and a host of others hewed their own local definitions. In these definitions Wilentz recovers the beginnings of a discontenttwo starkly opposed democracies, one in the North and another in the Southand the wary balance that lasted until the election of Abraham Lincoln sparked its bloody resolution. 75 illustrations.
 

About Sean Wilentz

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Robert sean Wilentz was born in 1951 in New York City. He earned his first B.A. from Colunbia University in 1972 and his second from Oxford University in 1974 on a Kellett Fellowship. He continued his education at Yale University where he earned his M.A. degree in 1975 and his PhD. in 1980. His writings are focused on the importance of class and race in the early national period. He has also co-authored books on nineteenth-century religion and working class life. His book The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln, won the Bancroft Prize. He has also written about modern U.S. history in his book, The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008. He has been the Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor of History at Princeton University since 1979. Robert Wilentz is also a contributing editor at The New Republic. He writes on music, the arts, history and politics. He received a Grammy nomination and a 2005 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for musical commentary on the musician Bob Dylan.
 
Published September 17, 2006 by W. W. Norton & Company. 1104 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Rise of American Democracy

Kirkus Reviews

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Abraham Lincoln, though deeply committed to democratic values, would insist on the supremacy of federal over states’ rights, while the nominally democratic leaders of the South meant to exalt “the supreme political power of local elites.” Wilentz shows that none of these battles was new when Linc...

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The New York Times

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The Democrats were natural democrats, the Whigs artificial ones.

Nov 13 2005 | Read Full Review of The Rise of American Democrac...

The New York Times

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Sean Wilentz's old-fashioned account of the rise of democracy during the first half of the 19th century is a tour de force of historical compilation.

Nov 13 2005 | Read Full Review of The Rise of American Democrac...

The New York Times

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Conceived as a narrative, his book, Wilentz explains, "can be read as a chronicle of American politics from the Revolution to the Civil War with the history of democracy at its center, or as an account of how democracy arose in the United States (and with what consequences) in the context of its ...

Nov 13 2005 | Read Full Review of The Rise of American Democrac...

The New York Times

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They seek to transcend the usual stuff of politics - elections, parties and the political maneuvering of elite white males in government - and to provide a history that views politics through the lenses of race, gender and popular culture.

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Bookmarks Magazine

ISBN: 0393058204 "The Rise of American Democracy demands that we take politics and the history of democratic culture most seriously, that we recognize democracy as ‘a historical fact’ and an ongoing struggle, that we understand democracy as ever involving recreation and replenishment.

Aug 28 2007 | Read Full Review of The Rise of American Democrac...

National Review Online

Sean Wilentz is a scourge of sentimentality in American historical writing, a refuter of pieties, both those in the triumphalist vein of David McCullough and those of Rainbow Coalition history, the kind that concentrates on everything other than triumphant political figures.

Mar 16 2006 | Read Full Review of The Rise of American Democrac...

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