This essay reviews the established case for the pivotal role played by Thomas Paine's pamphlet Common Sense in the American Revolution as well as the various explanations that have been proffered to account for its success: the time and place of its publication, Paine's style, Paine's ethos, and his use of psychology and ideology. To these accounts it adds the suggestion that Paine used the term "prejudice" to frame his readers' positive perception of monarchy and the British constitution, and negative perceptions of American independence, as distortions imposed by "habit and custom." In the process of making this case it explores the genealogy of the term "prejudice."
Cosway, Maria Hadfield, 1759-1838 -- Correspondence.
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826 -- Psychology.
This essay analyzes Thomas Jefferson's letter to Maria Cosway of October 12, 1786, remembered today as the dialogue between Jefferson's head and heart. By offering a close reading of the rhetorical styles of the players in Jefferson's letter, and by reading the dialogue alongside Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments, this essay argues that Jefferson's goal was to discipline his irrational, misbehaving heart. Jefferson's letter is interesting as a rhetorical artifact in itself, and deserves a close reading; yet this essay also argues that Jefferson's letter warrants consideration because it offers a detailed discussion of his political psychology and also, I argue, a window into his fantasies about how public affairs would be managed in the United States.
In the First Amendment, the free exercise of religion is set apart from the right of free speech, suggesting that religion is a unique form of speech, as well as of privacy and autonomy. The amendment extends this exceptionalism by prohibiting Congress from making any law "respecting an establishment of religion." In this article I consider a series of court cases involving the rights of free speech and religious conscience for children, particularly in the context of public schools. In these cases, the Supreme Court participates in the shaping of a liberal mind that divides reason from religion rather sharply, often privileging the former while simultaneously downplaying the role and power of the state in the moral and political development of schoolchildren. My discussion concludes with a consideration of the ways in which the Court constructs an individualistic psychology that ultimately strengthens the power of the state it purports to limit and shortchanges the meaningful development of liberal citizenship.