History 233 Reading Guide

Jeffersonian American:  Toward a “Republican” Vision


John R. Howe argues that the source of the vitriolic, violent political rhetoric of the 1790s went deeper than sincere conflicts over principles and public policies.  Instead of focusing on disagreements, he examines the particular attitudes and beliefs that the Federalists and Jeffersonians shared about the ideology of republicanism as it was understood at the time.

  • While Americans were continuing the process of defining what republicanism should mean, what compounded that process and their efforts in the first decade under the new constitution?  What particular concerns did the dominant republican ideology of the 1790s raise for Americans and their political leaders?  In what ways and why did they see republican governments as inherently frail and impermanent?
  • Why did the assumed vulnerability of republicanism matter so intensely to Americans in the political world of the 1790s?

First Critical Analysis due (primary document written between 1763 and 1800).