In the early American republic, the concept of public opinion was a recentand ambiguousinvention. While appearing to promise a new style and system of democratic and deliberative politics, the concept was also invoked to limit self-rule, cement traditional prejudices and hierarchies, forestall deliberation, and marginalize dissent. As Americans contested the meaning of this essentially contestable idea, they expanded and contracted the horizons of political possibility and renegotiated the terms of political legitimacy.
Tracing the notion of public opinion from its late eighteenth-century origins to the Gilded Age, Mark G. Schmeller’s Invisible Sovereign argues that public opinion is a central catalyst in the history of American political thought. Schmeller treats it as a contagious idea that infected a broad range of discourses and practices in powerful, occasionally ironic, and increasingly contentious ways.
Ranging across a wide variety of historical fields, Invisible Sovereign traces a shift over time from early "political-constitutional" concepts, which identified public opinion with a sovereign people and wrapped it in the language of constitutionalism, to more modern, "social-psychological" concepts, which defined public opinion as a product of social action and mass communication.
|Publisher:||Johns Hopkins University Press|
|Series:||New Studies in American Intellectual and Cultural History|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Mark G. Schmeller is an associate professor of history at Syracuse University.
Table of Contents
Introduction Public Opinion and the American Political Imagination 1
Chapter 1 The Moral Economy of Opinion 7
Chapter 2 Credit and the Political Economy of Opinion 35
Chapter 3 Partisan Manufactories of Public Sentiment 60
Chapter 4 The Importance of Having Opinions 89
Chapter 5 The Fatal Force of Public Opinion 116
Chapter 6 Irrepressible Conflicts, Impending Crises 144
Conclusion Corn-Pone Opinions 171
Essay on Sources 223
What People are Saying About This
"An impressive and edifying contribution to the history of early national and antebellum American political thought. Invisible Sovereign is eloquent, witty, deeply researched, and attuned to the significant and interesting features of the many sources it analyzes and the issues it raises."