The Citizenship Revolution
Politics and the Creation of the American Union, 1774-1804
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Virginia Press
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I could not have written this book without much support, financial and intellectual, and I take great pleasure remembering the people and places that helped. Numerous institutions have provided research assistance, including the Virginia Historical Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the American Philosophical Society,...
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In 1812 the United States of America declared war against Great Britain with an alarming nonchalance. With a tiny national army and the war hawks rejecting any attempt to expand the navy on the eve of the fighting, the country exhibited a reckless and even comic disregard for nearly all the assumptions of modern war making....
1 The Revolutionary Moment: Natural Rights, the People, and the Creation of American Citizenship
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When the first Continental Congress began to organize itself in the fall of 1774, early rumors of Boston being bombarded by the British navy heightened the sense of crisis. The orators took the initiative, and Patrick Henry, the firebrand from the Virginia Piedmont, struck a radical pose:...
2 State v. Nation: Federalism and the Problem of Nationhood
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When U.S. Supreme Court justice James Wilson delivered his opinion on the fundamental and “radical” question, “Do the people of the United States form a nation?” he answered with a resounding “Yes.” He had arrived at his question by considering the claims of Alexander Chisholm, who sued the State of Georgia for...
3 The Politics of Citizenship: Expatriation, Naturalization, and the Rise of Party
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When Gideon Henfield, a “sea-faring man” from Salem, Massachusetts, joined the crew of the privateer Citizen Genet, he was assured that the first prize would be his to command. The vessel had been armed in Charleston, with the enthusiastic support of Governor William Moultrie and with funds provided by the first...
4 "True Americans": The Federalist Ideal and the Legislation of National Citizenship
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On May 7, 1798, President John Adams stood in full military regalia on the steps of the Executive Residence in Philadelphia. Despite his lack of military experience, he struck a martial pose on this day—one he had designated as a day of “national fasting”—to receive the compliments of the patriotic youth of Philadelphia. Upset...
5 States' Rights and the Rights of Man: The Opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts
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In the middle of August 1798, in Fayette County, Kentucky, thousands of people massed in the small town of Lexington to protest the Alien and Sedition Acts. Unable to fit inside any public building, the crowd sprawled across the square at the center of town to listen to the local leadership of the Republican Party, led by the distinguished...
6 "Hordes of Foreigners": The Immigrant Moment and the Potential of the Hyphenated Citizen
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On February 9, 1799, newspaper editor William Duane visited St. Mary’s Catholic Church in midtown Philadelphia to collect signatures. Born of Irish parents in New York before the Revolution, Duane and three recent arrivals from Ireland—Dr. James Reynolds, Robert Moore, and Samuel Cuming—were preparing “a memorial...
7 White Citizen, Black Denizen: The Racial Ranks of American Citizenship
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On June 22, 1807, the longest day of the year, an incident three leagues west of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay nearly precipitated a war between Britain and the United States. The HMS Leopard attacked the unprepared U.S. frigate Chesapeake, the captain of the Chesapeake having refused to allow the British to search...
8 The Aristotelian Moment: Ending the American Revolution
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At the conclusion of the first part of The Rights of Man, Thomas Paine describes the late eighteenth century as “an age of revolutions in which everything may be looked for.”1 Paine expressed a sentiment that reached far beyond the immediate boundaries of France to a moment of change throughout the Atlantic World. His...
Conclusion: The Fall of the Union and the Rise of Nation
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If the country had remained static—with the same jurisdictional limits, population, and distribution of wealth that existed in 1800—we could construct theoretical scenarios in which the Federalists come again to national power and overthrow the Republican ascendancy, thus continuing a type of national politics that still...
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Page Count: 432
Illustrations: 5 b&w illustrations
Publication Year: 2009