State and Citizen
British America and the Early United States
Publication Year: 2013
Pointing the way to a new history of the transformation of British subjects into American citizens, State and Citizen challenges the presumption that the early American state was weak by exploring the changing legal and political meaning of citizenship. The volume’s distinguished contributors cast new light on the shift from subjecthood to citizenship during the American Revolution by showing that the federal state played a much greater part than is commonly supposed.
Going beyond master narratives—celebratory or revisionist—that center on founding principles, the contributors argue that geopolitical realities and the federal state were at the center of early American political development. The volume’s editors, Peter Thompson and Peter S. Onuf, bring together political science and historical methodologies to demonstrate that citizenship was a political as well as a legal concept. The American state, this collection argues, was formed and evolved in a more dialectical relationship between citizens and government authority than is generally acknowledged. Suggesting points of comparison between an American narrative of state development—previously thought to be exceptional—and those of Europe and Latin America, the contributors break fresh ground by investigating citizenship in its historical context rather than by reference only to its capacity to confer privileges.
Published by: University of Virginia Press
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The Constitution of the United States of America was written in the name of âthe people,â but it did not defi ne the qualifi cations neces-sary for a white person to be a citizen. And although in its fi rst twelve years the United States Congress debated, adopted, and repealed four general naturalization bills addressing the question of how white aliens might claim citizenship, Congress thereafter left the issue alone for a century. Congress did not even assert the exclusive right of the federal government to issue passports ...
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The transformation of British colonial subjects into citizens of new, independent republics constitutes the main story line of early American history. Demonstrating a genius for adaptation to an unfa-miliar and forbidding environment, colonists built new societies that depended on the broad distribution of power and responsibility. For all practical pur-poses, subjects of a distant monarch had to act as if they were citizens of self-governing commonwealths. The colonial period was a protracted apprentice-...
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...Â âNo sooner had the news of the changes in England [the Glorious Revolution] arrived than it was in the mouths of all the mobile that there was no King in England and so no Government here.â So Nich-olas Spencer, Secretary and Councilor in Virginia, wrote to the Privy Council of the new king and queen in April of 1689. He then repeated himself: âIt was feared that the diï¬ culties of maintaining order would have remained insuper-able until we received the news of the happy accession of the Prince and Prin-...
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...Â âHow is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?â With these words, penned toward the end of his pro-ministerial polemic, Taxation, No Tyranny (1775), the English lexi-cographer Samuel Johnson captured what, for humanitarians ever since, has been one of the central problems of the American Revolution.Â¹ How could a people famous for their love of liberty sanction an institution that deprived nearly a fi fth of British Americaâs colonial population of any rights at all? Why ...
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In his 1833 decision in Barron v. City of Baltimore, Chief Justice John Mar-shall confi rmed a fundamental aspect of the real meaning of citizenship in the American Union before the Civil War. The true character of the privileges, rights, immunities, and duties of the vast majority of the American citizenry remained, for nearly all important purposes, in the hands of the indi-vidual states. The famous Bill of Rightsâthe fi rst ten amendments to the U.S. Constitutionâwere âintended solely as a limitation on the exercise of power by ...
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According to the formulation of historian James McPherson, the American Civil War created the American nation. The surging sense of nationalism produced by the war gave rise to a new identity, eclipsing previous loyalties to state and section, and the American state was recast. âThe old decentralized federal republic,â notes McPherson, âbecame a new national polity that taxed the people directly, created an internal revenue bureau to collect these taxes, expanded the jurisdiction of federal courts, estab-...
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It is a curious fact that the worldâs sole remaining superpower is the creation of an allegedly stateless society. More than most peoples, Ameri-cans are convinced that their central government plays only a marginal role in the development of their society. To the extent that the federal govern-ment fi gures at all in the popular imagination, it does so mainly as a threat to the American way of life. Born a liberal society, out of a revolution against the oppressive regulations and taxation of an overbearing government, the state, it ...
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How did Americans understand the concept of self-government, and the relationship between state and citizen, during the age of revo-lutions and the early Republic? I would like to explore these under-standings of public authority in something of a social anthropology of power, arcing from early modern England to the antebellum American states. I agree with Steve Hindle, who, in respect to Tudor-Stuart England, speaks of being more interested in the âcircuits of authorityâ than the âcorridors of power,â ...
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During the American Revolution and the U.S. Civil War, both the colonists and the Confederates unleashed the printing presses to fi nance their struggle for independence. Lacking a dependable supply of specie and tax revenue, they fl ooded their respective economies with paper money, thereby creating an infl ationary spiral that ruined the fortunes of many ordinary civilians. The reliance on vast emissions of paper moneyâand the disastrous infl ation that it spawnedârefl ected the general economic similari-...
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Any evaluation of state formation in the Confederacy takes shape in the shadows of two towering, controlling facts. First, the fact that the Confederacy lost the Civil War and expired in 1865. When schol-ars think about state formation during the Civil War, they habitually do so with reference to the victorious Union, not the vanquished Confederacy. This pre-disposition tends to obscure a robust process of state and national development that took place in the Confederacy during the war years, making it diï¬ cult to ...
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Douglas Bradburn The Citizenship Revolution: Politics and the Creation of the Clarence E. Walker Mongrel Nation: The America Begotten by Thomas Jeï¬ erson and Timothy Mason Roberts Distant Revolutions: 1848 and the Challenge to American Peter J. Kastor and FranÃ§ois Weil, editors Empires of the Imagination: Transatlantic Eran Shalev Rome Reborn on Western Shores: Historical Imagination and the Cre-...
Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 3 figures, 4 tables
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Jeffersonian America
Series Editor Byline: Jan Ellen Lewis, Peter S. Onuf, Andrew O'Shaughnessy