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New Order of the Ages

New Order of the Ages: Time, the Constitution, and the Making of Modern American Political Thought

Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    New Order of the Ages
    Book Description:

    Lienesch shows that what emerged from the period of change was an inconsistent combination of political theories. The mixture of classical republicanism and modern liberalism was institutionalized in the American Constitution and has continued-ambivalent, contradictory, and sometimes flatly paradoxical-to characterize American politics ever since.

    Originally published in 1990.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5153-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    (pp. 3-14)

    Between the Peace of Paris in 1783 and the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800, America became a modern nation. The end of the War of Independence announced the first successful anticolonial rebellion by a major modern state. The creation of the federal Constitution, the ab novo formation of a self-constituting and self-sustaining republic, was an unparalleled event as well, a prototype for the postcolonial world. The process of nation building that began at this time was equally unprecedented, providing an example to be emulated by emerging nations throughout the world, and for hundreds of years to come.

    In addition...

  5. PART ONE The Paradoxical Past

    • 1 CREATION Sacred and Secular History
      (pp. 17-37)

      In 1783, twenty years of protest and war came suddenly to a close. With the signing of the Peace of Paris, the War of Independence was officially won. Americans greeted the news with celebration and thanksgiving. The army was demobilized swiftly and relatively surely, thanks largely to the firmness and generosity of General Washington, and enlisted men and officers alike set out for their farms and homes, many leading the horses that had pulled the cannon during the war. By April 1783, the army had been disbanded, in time for late spring planting.

      Ending the war was easy, however, compared...

    • 2 CHANGE Themes of Decline and Progress
      (pp. 38-60)

      For a past-conscious people, the early 1780s was a disconcerting time. Independence had announced a break with the past. Whatever the continuity, and there was considerable, the transition to peacetime brought with it unprecedented problems. Old social patterns were everywhere giving way to new ones, as a Tory society was replaced by a Whig one. New businesses were being formed, new lands opened, new fortunes founded. Political affairs were chaotic, because government had all but disappeared during the last days of the war, and was only now reviving. In response, concerned citizens sought a sense of continuity. Having looked to...

  6. PART TWO Perceptions of the Present

    • 3 REFORM Cyclical Theory and the Idea of Imbalance
      (pp. 63-81)

      By the mid-1780s, critics had begun to consider the possibilities for restructuring the republic. In truth, however, they knew neither how nor when. That is to say, thinkers of the time had little conception of the course being taken by contemporary events, and even less of their own ability to shape those events. So it was that before they could begin thinking about how to reform their politics, they had first to take up the more fundamental and more proximate problem of how to go about thinking about the meaning of reform.

      In attempting to perceive some pattern to contemporary...

    • 4 DEVELOPMENT The Economics of Expansionism
      (pp. 82-116)

      Throughout the mid-1780s, political reformers continued to seek some realistic response to what seemed to be an increasingly intolerable situation. Certain as they were of coming calamity, but unsure of their ability to bring about any meaningful reform, they found themselves searching desperately for an appropriate course of action. In this effort, thinkers continued in these years to consider the course of recent events, trying somehow to locate themselves in time. Seizing on the science of social development, they thus attempted to chart their place on the scale of civilization, comparing the new American nation to older European societies. In...

  7. PART THREE Creating a Contemporary Politics

    • 5 EXPERIENCE Examples, Precepts, and Theorems
      (pp. 119-137)

      With the convening of the Philadelphia convention, reformers turned to the problems associated with creating a contemporary politics. The events of the mid-1780s, the conflict and confusion, had been in one sense liberating. For by 1787 political observers could see that there was almost no agreement on the direction that events seemed to be taking. More important, there was nothing approaching consensus on an appropriate response, no common ground on which to build the basis of reform. In the absence of precedent or common agreement, the most determined of the reformers were forced to rely increasingly on their own initiative,...

    • 6 FOUNDING Audacity, Ambition, Adaptability
      (pp. 138-156)

      In the debates over ratification, convention delegates were forced to act politically in ways they had never acted before. If anything, they had practiced politics with an eye toward the past, constantly conscious of the importance of their heritage. From earliest times, citizens had been expected to keep alive original principles, passing on the legacy of the first founders to later generations. But with the creation of the Constitution, the situation had changed, for however intentionally or even knowingly, the drafters of the Constitution had radically reformulated the principles of their politics. It remained for the delegates to the state...

  8. PART FOUR Prefabricating the Future

    • 7 POSTERITY Creating Constitutional Character
      (pp. 159-183)

      By the Fourth of July 1788, ten states had ratified the Constitution, one more than the required majority, and Federalists across the land celebrated victory with parades and partisan speeches. In Philadelphia, thousands marched in procession, complete with bands, horsemen, and Indian chiefs. Pulled atop a horse-drawn carriage was a representation of the new union, a Corinthian-style temple supported by thirteen columns, with the figure of Plenty surmounting the dome. Orations, poetic odes, and toasts capped off the day, along with artillery salutes from warships in the harbor. Yet not all the celebrations were as enthusiastic: in Albany, New York,...

    • 8 DESTINY Prophecy and the Prophets of Progress
      (pp. 184-203)

      The battles over the Constitution behind them, Americans in the early 1790s looked ahead to what they hoped would be a period of harmony at home and peace in the world. Their illusions were soon shattered, for with the coming of the French Revolution in 1789, there began a decade of national and international turmoil unparalleled in American history. The French Revolution created repercussions that resounded throughout the Western world. Sympathizers and opponents everywhere could be found taking sides, their differences poisoning the domestic politics of virtually every interested state. But for Americans in particular, their nation new and untested,...

    (pp. 204-214)

    With the election of Thomas Jefferson, America had become a modern nation. The new President stood as a symbol of the new order. In his First Inaugural, he would put forth the basic principles of modern liberalism, including a commitment to commerce, to continental expansion, and above all to compromise—a pragmatic nonpartisanship in which all were Federalists, all were Republicans, and all could agree on the potential for progress in both the public and the private realms. Coming to office at a time of at least temporary peace abroad and moving rapidly to secure the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson could...

    (pp. 215-228)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 229-235)