Selling Of The Constitutional Convention

Overview

During the long summer of 1787, while half a hundred men deliberated in utmost secrecy over the fate of a nation, newspaper editors went to great length to win support for the federalist cause. By launching one of the greatest media marketing campaigns in American history, publishers repeatedly promoted the anticipated results of the Constitutional Convention while actively stifling its antifederal critics. In this revealing expose of media management in the eighteenth century, historian John K. Alexander ...
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Overview

During the long summer of 1787, while half a hundred men deliberated in utmost secrecy over the fate of a nation, newspaper editors went to great length to win support for the federalist cause. By launching one of the greatest media marketing campaigns in American history, publishers repeatedly promoted the anticipated results of the Constitutional Convention while actively stifling its antifederal critics. In this revealing expose of media management in the eighteenth century, historian John K. Alexander demonstrates how publishers' tacit political assumptions and their tightly woven information networks channeled public debate over the issue. He quantitatively and qualitatively shows how publishers turned their papers into propaganda instruments in an effort to create and solidify a popular consensus around the yet unknown results of the Convention. In the words of one New York editor, "they conceived it a duty incumbent on them to prepare the minds of their readers for [the Constitution's] reception." "The evidence from 1787," writes Alexander, "suggests that independent ownership and operation offer no guarantee of a truly free and informative press." The Selling of the Constitutional Convention is a fascinating analysis of news management in the 1780s that sheds new light on the role of the press in early American political culture.
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Editorial Reviews

Jackson Turner Main
Interesting, informative, and valuable new light on the ratification process. [An] essential reference source.
Dwight L. Teeter
An important addition to the history of the Constitution and of American journalism. . . . Newspaper warfare over the Constitution began during, not after, the Convention.
Jeffrey A. Smith
John K. Alexander offers a revealing analysis of how journalists treated a momentous news event enveloped in secrecy and how the idea of inventing a new political system was made attractive.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780945612155
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 1/1/1990
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 258
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

John K. Alexander is a professor at the University of Cincinnati where he specializes in American revolutionary era history. Along with a number of scholarly articles, he has authored Render Them Submissive: Responses to Poverty in Philadelphia, 1760-1800.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Preface Chapter 2 Short Titles and Symbols Chapter 3 Introduction Chapter 4 "We Are No Longer United States": Looking to the Convention Chapter 5 "The Collective Wisdom of the Continent": The Convention Opens Chapter 6 "We Expect Something Great": Projecting the Image of Unity Chapter 7 "Prepared To Receive With Respect": Selling the Unknown Chapter 8 "An Opposition Will Shew Itself": Anticipating the Constitution Chapter 9 Conclusion Chapter 10 Appendix 1: Short Title List for Newspapers and Magazines, 1787 Chapter 11 Appendix 2: Note on Methodology Chapter 12 Index
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