The Rise of American Democracy / Edition 1

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Winner of the Bancroft Award: "Monumental…a tour de force…awesome in its coverage of political events."—Gordon Wood, New York Times Book Review
Acclaimed as the definitive study of the period by one of the greatest American historians, The Rise of American Democracy traces a historical arc from the earliest days of the republic to the opening shots of the Civil War. Ferocious clashes among the Founders over the role of ordinary citizens in a government of "we, the people" were eventually resolved in the triumph of Andrew Jackson. Thereafter, Sean Wilentz shows, a fateful division arose between two starkly opposed democracies—a division contained until the election of Abraham Lincoln sparked its bloody resolution. Winner of the Bancroft Award, shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize, finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2005 and best book of New York magazine and The Economist.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393931112
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/17/2008
  • Edition description: Abridged College Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 743,730
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Sean Wilentz is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of History and director of the Program in American Studies at Princeton University. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

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Table of Contents

Maps ix

Preface xiii

Part I The Crisis of the New Order

1 American Democracy in a Revolutionary Age 3

2 The Republican Interest and the Self-Created Democracy 17

3 The Making of Jeffersonian Democracy 31

4 Jefferson's Two Presidencies 46

5 Nationalism and the War of 1812 68

Part II Democracy Ascendant

6 The Era of Bad Feelings 93

7 Slavery, Compromise, and Democratic Politics 114

8 The Politics of Moral Improvement 136

9 The Aristocracy and Democracy of America 150

10 The Jackson Era: Uneasy Beginnings 166

11 Radical Democracies 174

12 1832: Jackson's Crucial Year 188

13 Banks, Abolitionists, and the Equal Rights Democracy 207

14 "The Republic has degenerated into a Democracy" 222

15 The Politics of Hard Times 239

16 Whigs, Democrats, and Democracy 253

Part III Slavery and the Crisis of American Democracy

17 Whig Debacle, Democratic Confusion 271

18 Antislavery, Annexation, and the Advent of Young Hickory 288

19 The Bitter Fruits of Manifest Destiny 306

20 War, Slavery, and the American 1848 321

21 Political Truce, Uneasy Consequences 341

22 The Truce Collapses 363

23 A Nightmare Broods over Society 391

24 The Faith That Right Makes Might 421

25 The Iliad of All Our Woes 436

Epilogue 451

Index 459

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 5, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Scholastic, informative, enjoyable, but biased. Should not be the only inquiry on the subject.

    A good history of early American Politics. A little overly scholastic maybe, and perhaps a little bit biased with a modern-day, partisan view of politics.

    Wilentz picks sides here, glosses over "his" heroes' character flaws, and plays down (or leaves out) pertinent information that could give readers a fuller appreciation of the time periods presented.

    For instance: Jefferson comes off rather well, Hamilton a real demagogue, and Washington gets a less than admirable treatment here. To Wilentz, the federalists are anti-democratic aristocrats intent on using government to enrich themselves (not accurate in my opinion), and the Republicans (the earliest Democrats) are the heroes fighting for liberty against their tyranny

    The author tries to be impartial, but his modern day liberal views are pretty bare for all to see- which is a bit of a shame considering the breadth of what he's trying to accomplish here- a full and thorough accounting of political thought and history from 1800s-1860s.

    Not a bad read though, especially for the more "progressive" minded, but SHOULD NOT be the only source for information on the subjects covered.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Good for (Advanced) Students

    I read this book the summer before I had to take a senior level college class on antebellum America. It turned out to be the perfect book to read. It covered most of the major topics in the course (at least the political aspects), and probably helped me do much better than I otherwise would have done. <BR/><BR/>As far as I can tell there is no new scholarship in this text. What makes it unique, however, is the complex synthesis Wilentz uses by taking massive amounts of state and local sources and blending them into what becomes an original narrative.<BR/><BR/>Wilentz is a good author and a respected historian (which is why I chose this book in particular). I would recommend this book for those who want a thorough understanding of the early American Republic.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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