In analyzing the debates between the Federalists and the Antifederalists, McWilliams, Gibbons, and their contributors break sharply with those who interpret the founding of America as either the work of pure pragmatists or as the institutionalization of class interests. This study of the very nature of modern representative democracy explains past and present dilemmas and contradictions in terms of differing Federalist and Antifederalist views. Students and scholars interested in political theory and American government and history will find this discussion of our political traditions a fascinating one that provokes thought about possible opportunities for political renewal and democratic change.
This examination of the political theory of the American founding deals with often-opposing beliefs about pluralist interests and political compromise, human nature, what constitutes the public good and the public sphere, the relationship between polity and economy, the role of religion in politics, and our political tradition in general. The study presents different points of view held by America's founders and considers other interpretations and ideas of Machiavelli, Spinoza, Hobbes, Montesquieu, James Wilson, and Woodrow Wilson, among others.
About the Author
WILSON CAREY McWILLIAMS is Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University. He is the author of The Idea of Fraternity in America and numerous articles on political theory and American politics. McWilliams was the director of the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar from which most of these essays evolved.
MICHAEL T. GIBBONS is Associate Professor of Government and International Affairs at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He is the editor of Interpreting Politics. Among his current research interests is the debate between the Federalists and the Antifederalists over the nature of the public sphere.
Table of Contents
Introduction by Michael T. Gibbons and Wilson Carey McWilliams
Machiavellian Lessons in America: Republican Foundings, Original Principles, and Political Empowerment by Kent Brudney
Reflections on Human Nature: The Federalists and the Republican Tradition by David Freeman
Montesquieu and the Ideological Strain in Antifederalist Thought by Abraham Kupersmith
The Fall of James Wilson's Democratic Presidency by Susan Abrams Beck
The Founders, Woodrow Wilson, and the Public Good by Dwight Kiel
The Public Sphere, Commercial Society, and The Federalist Papers by Michael T. Gibbons