Vernacular versus Formal Democracy
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.
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