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Democracy's Spectacle – Sovereignty and Public Life in Antebellum American Writing - Fordham Scholarship Online
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Democracy's Spectacle: Sovereignty and Public Life in Antebellum American Writing

Jennifer Greiman


“What is the hangman but a servant of law? And what is that law but an expression of public opinion? And if public opinion be brutal and thou a component part thereof, art thou not the hangman's accomplice?” Writing in 1842, Lydia Maria Child articulates a crisis in the relationship of democracy to sovereign power that continues to occupy political theory today. Is sovereignty, with its reliance on singular and exceptional power, fundamentally inimical to democracy? Or might a more fully realized democracy distribute, share, and popularize sovereignty, thus blunting its exceptional character a ... More

Keywords: Lydia Maria Child, democracy, sovereign power, political theory, United States, Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, sovereignty, Gustave de Beaumont, Nathaniel Hawthorne

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2010 Print ISBN-13: 9780823230990
Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011 DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823230990.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Jennifer Greiman, author
Department of English, University at Albany, SUNY