1783-1815: Government and Politics: Publications
1783-1815: Government and Politics: Publications
John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America (London: Printed for C. Dilly, 1787)—written during Adams’s tenure as U.S. minister to England. He supports “balanced government,” in which power is divided among the people (represented in the lower house of the legislature), the aristocracy (the senate), and an independent executive to mediate between the two groups;
Adams, Discourses on Davila (Boston: Russell & Cutler, 1805)—a series of papers written by Vice President Adams in 1790 in reaction to the radical phase of the French Revolution. He warns about the danger of democracy, leading critics to charge him with favoring monarchy;
John Quincy Adams, Observations on Paine’s Rights of Man, in a Series of Letters, by Publicola (Edinburgh: J. Dickson, 1792)—the son of John Adams responds to Thomas Paine’s and Thomas Jefferson’s criticism of his father’s principles in Discourses on Davila;
William Gordon, The History of the Rise, Progress, and Establishment of the Independence of the United States of America (London: Printed for the author, 1788; New York: Hodge, Allen & Campbell, 1789)—Reverend Gordon, an Englishman who immigrated to Massachusetts in 1770, based this study on official correspondence, conversations with military officers and members of Congress, and material copied from other publications; Americans criticized the book for being anti-American, the English for being anti-English;
Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, The Federalist: A Collection of Essays, Written in Favour of the New Constitution, as agreed upon by the Federal Convention, September 17, 1787, 2 volumes (New York: J. & A. M’Lean, 1788)—a series of anonymous essays written under the name “Publius” supporting the Constitution and a strong national government;
George Hay (“Hortensius”), An Essay on the Liberty of the Press (N.p., 1799)—a Virginia lawyer and Democratic-Republican attacks the Sedition Act as unconstitutional because the Constitution does not expressly give Congress the power to prosecute libel. Hay also defends “the spirit of inquiry and discussion” as being “of the utmost importance in every free country”;
Richard Henry Lee, Observations Leading to a Fair Examination of the System of Government, Proposed by the Late Convention (New York: Thomas Greenleaf, 1787)—in a series of essays the author opposes the Constitution and a strong national government;
James Madison, Memorial and Remonstrance, Presented to the General Assembly, of the State of Virginia, at Their Session in 1785, in consequence of a Bill Brought into that Assembly for the Establishment of Religion by Law (Worcester: Isaiah Thomas, 1786)—a defense of the separation of church and state;
Thomas Paine, Rights of Man (London: Printed for J. S. Jordan, 1791)—an attack on monarchy and the English constitution written in response to English statesman Edmund Burke’s criticism of the French Revolution;
David Ramsay, The History of the American Revolution, 2 volumes (Philadelphia: R. Aitken & Son, 1789)—a South Carolina physician and politician analyzes both the positive and negative aspects of the Revolution, emphasizing the need for the Constitution and a strong national government to curb democratic excesses;
Mercy Otis Warren, Observations on the New Constitution, and on the Federal and State Conventions. By a Columbian Patriot (Boston, 1788)—written by a historian, poet, and playwright who was also the sister of the patriot leader James Otis, expressing opposition to several features of the Constitution; originally attributed to Elbridge Gerry;
Mason Locke Weems, A History of the Life and Death, Virtues, and Exploits of General George Washington (Georgetown, S.C.: Green & English, 1800)—“Parson Weems,” a minister, writer, and bookseller, filled this popular biography with fictional anecdotes illustrating Washington’s honesty and heroic nature;
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (London: Printed for J. Johnson / Boston: Printed by Peter Edes for Thomas & Andrews, 1792)—a defense of the importance of women’s education in a republic, written by an English feminist and philosopher;
Tunis Wortman, A Treatise Concerning Political Enquiry and the Liberty of the Press (N.p., 1800)—a New York lawyer and Democratic-Republican defends freedom of speech and political criticism as essential elements of civil liberty.
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