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In this intellectual history of American liberalism during the second half of the nineteenth century, Leslie Butler examines a group of nationally prominent and internationally oriented writers who sustained an American tradition of self-consciously progressive and cosmopolitan reform. She addresses how these men established a critical perspective on American racism, materialism, and jingoism in the decades between the 1850s and the 1890s while she recaptures their insistence on the ability of ordinary citizens to work toward their limitless potential as intelligent and moral human beings. At the core of Butler's study are the writers George William Curtis, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, James Russell Lowell, and Charles Eliot Norton, a quartet of friends who would together define the humane liberalism of America's late Victorian middle class. In creative engagement with such British intellectuals as John Stuart Mill, Thomas Carlyle, Matthew Arnold, Leslie Stephen, John Ruskin, James Bryce, and Goldwin Smith, these "critical Americans" articulated political ideals and cultural standards to suit the burgeoning mass democracy the Civil War had created. This transatlantic framework informed their notions of educative citizenship, print-based democratic politics, critically informed cultural dissemination, and a temperate, deliberative foreign policy. Butler argues that a careful reexamination of these strands of late nineteenth-century liberalism can help enrich a revitalized liberal tradition at the outset of the twenty-first century. In this intellectual history of 19th-century American liberalism, Butler examines the political and cultural thought of a group of nationally prominent and internationally oriented American intellectuals including editors and activists, poets and professors, critics and cultural innovators. She describes how this group, often dismissed by scholars as aloof or irrelevant, nonetheless played a key role in shaping consciously progressive and cosmopolitan reforms as they were eager to speak out against perceived national flaws and intent on affirming ordinary citizens’ ability to work towards their limitless potential as creative and moral human beings. Writers such as George William Curtis, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, James Russell Lowell, and Charles Eliot Norton formed the core of an influential liberal program that worked in tandem with British intellectuals such as Leslie Stephen, John Ruskin, Thomas Hughes, and Goldwin Smith, to urge political ideals and cultural standards they saw as necessary sources of authority in a burgeoning mass democracy. Their shared vision involved educative citizenship, print-based democratic politics, critically informed cultural dissemination, and a foreign policy that tempered force with the principles of reason and justice. Butler contends that a careful reexamination of the late-19th-century liberal vision might help enrich the liberal vision of the twenty-first century. In this intellectual history of American liberalism during the second half of the 19th century, Butler examines a group of nationally prominent and internationally oriented writers who sustained an American tradition of self-consciously progressive and cosmopolitan reform. She addresses how these men established a critical perspective on American racism, materialism, and jingoism in the decades between the 1850s and the 1890s while she recaptures their insistence on the ability of ordinary citizens to work toward their limitless potential as intelligent and moral human beings. At the core of Butler's study are the writers George William Curtis, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, James Russell Lowell, and Charles Eliot Norton, a quartet of friends who would together define the humane liberalism of America's late Victorian middle class. In this intellectual history of American liberalism during the second half of the nineteenth century, Leslie Butler examines a group of nationally prominent and internationally oriented writers who sustained an American tradition of self-consciously progressive and cosmopolitan reform. She addresses how these men established a critical perspective on American racism, materialism, and jingoism in the decades between the 1850s and the 1890s while she recaptures their insistence on the ability of ordinary citizens to work toward their limitless potential as intelligent and moral human beings. At the core of Butler's study are the writers George William Curtis, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, James Russell Lowell, and Charles Eliot Norton, a quartet of friends who would together define the humane liberalism of America's late Victorian middle class. In creative engagement with such British intellectuals as John Stuart Mill, Thomas Carlyle, Matthew Arnold, Leslie Stephen, John Ruskin, James Bryce, and Goldwin Smith, these "critical Americans" articulated political ideals and cultural standards to suit the burgeoning mass democracy the Civil War had created. This transatlantic framework informed their notions of educative citizenship, print-based democratic politics, critically informed cultural dissemination, and a temperate, deliberative foreign policy. Butler argues that a careful reexamination of these strands of late nineteenth-century liberalism can help enrich a revitalized liberal tradition at the outset of the twenty-first century.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. p. 1
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  1. Title Page, Copyright
  2. pp. 2-9
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. ix-x
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xi-xvi
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-16
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  1. 1. Victorian Duty, American Scholars, and National Crisis
  2. pp. 17-51
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  1. 2. The War for the Union and the Vindication of American Democracy
  2. pp. 52-86
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  1. 3. The Liberal High Tide and Educative Democracy
  2. pp. 87-127
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  1. 4. Liberal Culture in a Gilded Age
  2. pp. 128-174
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  1. 5. The Politics of Liberal Reform
  2. pp. 175-220
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  1. 6. Global Power and the Illiberalism of Empire
  2. pp. 221-261
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  1. Epilogue
  2. pp. 262-268
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 269-324
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  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 325-360
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 361-381
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Additional Information

ISBN
9781469606125
Related ISBN
9780807830840
MARC Record
OCLC
233577741
Pages
400
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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