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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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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 16 October 2019

Between Savagery and Civilization

Between Savagery and Civilization

The Whiskey Rebellion and a Democratic Middle Way

(p.53) 2 Between Savagery and Civilization
Commons Democracy

Dana D. Nelson

Fordham University Press

Chapter 2 analyses how the consensus narrative reframes localist vernacular democracy in the late eighteenth century through such terms as chaos, lawlessness, and anarchy. Taking up a specific historical instance, the Whiskey Rebellion, it studies how key participants fought back against this characterization of local citizen participation. One of those participants, Hugh Henry Brackenridge, transported what he deemed the key political lessons about citizen participation and good self-governance into his novel-in-progress, Modern Chivalry. The chapter studies how that novel theorizes a democratic practice that does not oppose formal government to commons democracy, but instead reimagines a democratic practice in between the two: between the governed and governing, between the representatives and represented, between the vernacular and the institutional, between freedom and despotism, between either and or.

Keywords:   anarchy, democratic representation, democratic vitality, democracy’s middle way, Federalism, popular participation

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