By Johann N. Neem
The usa is a state of joiners. Ever considering that Alexis de Tocqueville released his observations in Democracy in America, americans have well-known the uniqueness in their voluntary culture. In a piece of political, felony, social, and highbrow background, targeting the grassroots activities of standard humans, Neem lines the origins of this venerable culture to the vexed beginnings of yank democracy in Massachusetts.
Neem explores the a number of conflicts that produced a colourful pluralistic civil society following the yank Revolution. the end result was once an fabulous unencumber of civic strength as traditional humans, lengthy denied a voice in public debates, equipped to recommend temperance, to guard the Sabbath, and to abolish slavery; elite americans shaped deepest associations to advertise schooling and their stewardship of tradition and data. yet skeptics remained. fans of Jefferson and Jackson nervous that the hot civil society may permit the equipped few to trump the desire of the unorganized majority. whilst Tocqueville lower back to France, the connection among American democracy and its new civil society used to be faraway from settled.
The tale Neem tells is extra pertinent than ever―for americans fascinated by their very own civil society, and for these trying to construct civil societies in rising democracies round the world.
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Additional info for Creating a Nation of Joiners: Democracy and Civil Society in Early National Massachusetts (Harvard Historical Studies)
2 Th e A m e r ic a n R e volu t ion had been carried out by voluntary associations—conventions, congresses, and committees of correspondence and of safety. As British authority evaporated, these associations claimed to speak on behalf of the sovereign people. The members of these associations—none more so than the delegates to the Continental Congress—endowed themselves with an authority higher than that of government itself. In Lockean theory, when governments are dissolved, society remains. Patriot leaders argued that the interests of society—of the people—were embodied in the associations and Fragmentation and Contestation 35 assemblies that resisted the British.
47 In Massachusetts’s ﬁrst election sermon, held the day the new Commonwealth government opened for business, the Rev. ” In the New World, they engaged in “a covenant, a compact a mutual stipulation” to live under God’s laws. ” This idea could be gained through the use of reason, itself a gift from God. But it was also revealed in Scripture. ”48 Opponents of Article Three argued that it violated religious freedom precisely because it made the state a party in religion. ”51 Article Three’s supporters responded that the freedom of conscience was guaranteed and, more important, the state had a compelling interest in promoting morality.
It shall be the duty of legislators and magistrates . . 38 In the two decades following independence, Federalist leaders would try to make good on the constitution’s promise by increasing public patronage of the church, schools, colleges, learned academies, and fraternal organizations. They believed that the state should play an active role in developing post-Revolutionary civil society. The Revolutionary Commonwealth 21 Th e de l e g at e s’ decision to maintain, in fact to strengthen, the public religious system proved to be the most controversial provision of the new constitution.