In this Book

Founding Fictions
Part political history, part rhetorical criticism, Founding Fictions is an extended analysis of how Americans imagined themselves as citizens between 1764 and 1845. It critically re-interrogates our fundamental assumptions about a government based upon the will of the people, with profound implications for our ability to assess democracy today.


Founding Fictions develops the concept of a “political fiction,” or a narrative that people tell about their own political theories, and analyzes how republican and democratic fictions positioned American citizens as either romantic heroes, tragic victims, or ironic partisans.  By re-telling the stories that Americans have told themselves about citizenship, Mercieca highlights an important contradiction in American political theory and practice: that national stability and active citizen participation are perceived as fundamentally at odds.

Table of Contents

  1. Contents
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-xi
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-8
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  1. 1. “Republicanism was an indefinite term”: Political Fictions as Critical Tools for Citizenship
  2. pp. 9-41
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  1. 2. “The Revolution was in the minds of the people”: Citizens as Romantic Heroes, 1764–1776
  2. pp. 42-82
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  1. 3. “The American Constitution is that little article of HOPE, left at the bottom of Pandora’s box of evils”: Citizens as Tragic Victims, 1783–1789
  2. pp. 83-119
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  1. 4. “Who would not have been willing to have died such a death?”: Citizens as Reified Patriot Heroes, July 4, 1826
  2. pp. 120-146
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  1. 5. “I will not look up to the weather-cock of popularity, to see which way the gale is blowing”: Citizens as Ironic Partisans, 1816–1845
  2. pp. 147-201
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  1. Conclusion
  2. pp. 202-218
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 219-268
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 269-274
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