The Citizenship Revolution: Politics and the Creation of the American Union, 1774-1804

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"Most Americans believe that the ratification of the Constitution in 1788 marked the settlement of post-Revolutionary disputes over the meanings of rights, democracy, and sovereignty in the new nation. In The Citizenship Revolution, Douglas Bradburn undercuts this view by showing that the Union, not the Nation, was the most important product of independence." "In 1774 everyone in British North America was a subject of King George and Parliament. In 1776 a number of newly independent "states," composed of "American citizens," began cobbling together a Union to fight their former fellow countrymen. But who was an American? What did it mean to be a "citizen" and not a "subject"? And why did it matter?" Bradburn's reinterpretation requires us to rethink the traditional chronologies and stories of the American Revolutionary experience. He places battles over the meaning of "citizenship" in law and in politics at the center of the narrative. He shows that the new political community ultimately discovered that it was not really a "Nation," but a "Union of States" - and that it was the states that set the boundaries of belonging and the very character of rights, for citizens and everyone else.

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Editorial Reviews

Rogers Smith

This excellent and enjoyable book provides a far richer historical account of the political contestation over citizenship in the early Republic than any we have. It is a major contribution.

Edward Countryman

Douglas Bradburn has taken on a difficult and important subject, the development of American citizenship. Without being present-minded, he raises historical issues, including race, due process, and civil liberties, that remain very much alive. What he adds to a very powerful historical and civic discussion commands attention.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813928012
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press
  • Publication date: 6/21/2009
  • Series: Jeffersonian America
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 The Revolutionary Moment: Natural Rights, the People, and the Creation of American Citizenship 19

2 State v. Nation: Federalism and the Problem of Nationhood 61

3 The Politics of Citizenship: Expatriation, Naturalization, and the Rise of Party 101

4 "True Americans": The Federalist Ideal and the Legislation of National Citizenship 139

5 States' Rights and the Rights of Man: The Opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts 168

6 "Hordes of Foreigners": The Immigrant Moment and the Potential of the Hyphenated Citizen 206

7 White Citizen, Black Denizen: The Racial Ranks of American Citizenship 235

8 The Aristotelian Moment: Ending the American Revolution 272

Conclusion: The Fall of the Union and the Rise of Nation 297

Notes 309

Bibliography 371

Index 403

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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted August 25, 2009

    Brilliant New Study of Founding of the United States

    Finally!--a study of the founding which doesn't indulge in myth-telling or founder bashing. A brisk study of the ideas of citizenship in the era of the Revolution, improves greatly on Gordon Wood's __Creation__, tells both sides of the story without taking sides. Much better than Joe Ellis __Founding Brothers__Best book on Revolution in a long time, fine for a smart general reader.

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