Scandal and Civility: Journalism and the Birth of American Democracy [NOOK Book]

Overview

A new breed of journalists came to the fore in post-revolutionary America--fiercely partisan, highly ideological, and possessed of a bold sense of vocation and purpose as they entered the fray of political debate. Often condemned by latter-day historians and widely seen in their own time as a threat to public and personal civility, these colorful figures emerge in this provocative new book as the era's most important agents of political democracy.
Through incisive portraits of ...
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Scandal and Civility: Journalism and the Birth of American Democracy

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Overview

A new breed of journalists came to the fore in post-revolutionary America--fiercely partisan, highly ideological, and possessed of a bold sense of vocation and purpose as they entered the fray of political debate. Often condemned by latter-day historians and widely seen in their own time as a threat to public and personal civility, these colorful figures emerge in this provocative new book as the era's most important agents of political democracy.
Through incisive portraits of the most influential journalists of the 1790s--William Cobbett, Benjamin Franklin Bache, Philip Freneau, Noah Webster, John Fenno, and William Duane--Scandal and Civility moves beyond the usual cast of "revolutionary brothers" and "founding fathers" to offer a fresh perspective on a seemingly familiar story. Marcus Daniel demonstrates how partisan journalists, both Federalist and Democratic-Republican, were instrumental in igniting and expanding vital debates over the character of political leaders, the nature of representative government, and, ultimately, the role of the free press itself. Their rejection of civility and self-restraint--not even icons like George Washington were spared their satirical skewerings--earned these men the label "peddlers of scurrility." Yet, as Daniel shows, by breaking with earlier conceptions of "impartial" journalism, they challenged the elite dominance of political discourse and helped fuel the enormous political creativity of the early republic.
Daniel's nuanced and penetrating narrative captures this key period of American history in all its contentious complexity. And in today's climate, when many decry media "excesses" and the relentlessly partisan and personal character of political debate, his book is a timely reminder that discord and difference were essential to the very creation of our political culture.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[H]istorian Marcus Daniel constructs a compelling and extraordinarily readable account of America in the pivotal decade of the 1790s...Daniel provides equilibrium and perspective from an 'outsider' to the journalism history subfield...Scandal & Civility is a ripping good yarn that captures the chaos, nastiness, and verbal fisticuffs of the raucous early American press. It is just plain fun to read...Daniel's book is a valuable contribution...and places journalism center stage. Ultimately, Scandal and Civility is satisfying and persuasive, and could help propel the study of journalism history into the main channels of American historical discourse." —merican Journalism

"A strong contribution to scholarship on the postrevolutionary press .Daniel strikes a blow against the perception of politics as a high art practiced only by elites." —H-Net

"To get some perspective . . . one need go no further than Scandal and Civility, Marcus Daniel's detailed study of the American press in the 1790s. . . . A timely reminder of just how vital a thriving news culture is to the well-being of our democracy."-Jay Winik, The Wall Street Journal

"Daniel ends this superb and timely book with a reminder that America's great and durable institutions -freedom of the press among them-arose not out of the calm meditations of the Founders, but in the heat of acute political crises."-Patrick Allitt, The American Conservative

"Without partisan and even scurrilous printers pushing the limits of a free press in the seventeen-nineties, Marcus Daniel argues, the legitimacy of a loyal opposition never would have been established and the new nation, with its vigorous and democratizing political culture, might never have found its feet."-Jill Lepore, The New Yorker

"In this spirited and well-written book, Daniel offers a new context for understanding the newspaper wars of the 1790s."-Gordon S. Wood, author of mpire of Liberty

"More than any other book, this one shows how the leading journalists of the 1790s were important public figures. Their ideas as well as their doings mattered. Evenhanded, lively, probing—a thoughtful book about thoughtful people who had a tremendous impact on the birth of American politics."—David Waldstreicher, author of Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery, and the American Revolution

"A well-written and well-researched summary of the most important Federalist and Republican editors of the 1790s." —Journalism History

"Scandal & Civility takes us back to the journalistic frenzy and scurrility that accompanied the rise of democratic politics in the infant American republic. It is a superb performance, one that challenges many long-established scholarly conventions while recreating the worlds (and the wars) of words that produced the likes of William Cobbett, William Duane, and the other slashing editorial combatants of the 1790s."-Sean Wilentz, author of The Rise of American Democracy: From Jefferson to Lincoln

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199743650
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 12/21/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Associate Professor of History, University of Hawaii at Manoa

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Table of Contents

Introduction The Other Founding Fathers 3

Ch. 1 John Fenno and the Constitution of a National Character 19

Ch. 2 Philip Freneau and the Invention of the Republican Party 62

Ch. 3 Benjamin Franklin Bache and the Desacralization of George Washington 109

Ch. 4 Noah Webster and the Demoralization of the Body Politic 148

Ch. 5 William Cobbett and the Politics of Personality 187

Ch. 6 William Duane and the Triumph of Infidelity 231

Conclusion: The Revenge of Respectability 275

Notes 287

Index 375

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