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Commons DemocracyReading the Politics of Participation in the Early United States$
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Dana D. Nelson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823268382

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823268382.001.0001

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Telling Stories

Telling Stories

Vernacular versus Formal Democracy

(p.24) 1 Telling Stories
Commons Democracy

Dana D. Nelson

Fordham University Press

Chapter 1 contrasts the consensus story of the Framers’ Founding of U.S. democracy with a historical account of the vernacular democratic practices that undergirded early state constitutions and vernacular theories that informed dissent and regulations, like Shays’ Rebellion, in the early nation. It outlines the Framers’ concerted efforts to “tame” vernacular understandings of democracy and links those theories and practices to the extension of European communing practices in the British colonies. Finally it shows how we can see those communing practices in the literature of the early nation.

Keywords:   citizen sovereignty, formal democracy, popular power, public happiness, vernacular democracy

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