Cover of: The American enlightenment | Adrienne Koch

The American enlightenment

the shaping of the American experiment and a free society

Published in New York .

About the Book

"This volume on the American Enlightenment presents representative selections from the writings and papers of five memorable Americans: Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton. The selections attempt to show the scope of their abilities and activities and the nature of the contributions they made to the formation of American society. In a very real sense, these are the men who pre-eminently fulfill the role of makers of the American political tradition. Their vision and their spirit provided the foundations for that free society which developed in subsequent years into the most flourishing democratic civilization in the modern world."

"It is natural to expect that a historian will write of his chosen period of time and thought 'con amore.' For it would be a sad task to devote many years of a meager human life to the study of men, minds, actions and achievements that were devoid of the glitter and pull of deep human significance. The reader must therefore be on guard from the opening of this volume to its close for the implicit judgment of the editor, that the period of the American Enlightenment was an exceptional, indeed a glorious, time of thought and human constructive effort; and that the writings which were its products represent a rich vein of moral and political wisdom hard to match anywhere in the history of Western civilization."

"The period of the American Enlightenment spans the half century from 1765 to 1815 and was, in the words of John Adams, 'an age of revolutions and constitutions.' It opened with the developing arguments for separation from Great Britain, culminating with the Declaration of Independence. Efforts were then made to establish securely the new political order for which the revolution was fought. These creative inventions included the Articles of Confederation, state constitutions, and the Federal Constitution. The third and final phase embraced the first critical steps to transform a ratified paper constitution into a functioning representative government on a national scale."

"Each of these three major phases were stages in a continuing revolution, maturing, unlike later revolutional developments, in more effective democratic institutions. For this reason, the period of the American Enlightenment marked a new chapter in the history of man. The first revolutionary phase witnessed the making of an entirely new kind of revolution against imperial power which caught the imagination of the entire civilized world, with incalculable consequences for the redirection of thought and the reconstruction of society. The second constitutional phase involved another unprecedented process: the creation of an 'extensive republic' unlike any that existed before — both in terms of the process of deliberation by a group of enlightened men which produced and ratified the constitutions — state and federal — and in terms of the central human ethos reflected in the provisions of these organic laws. The third phase established the first new nation in the modern sense, a nation under a two-party
system and in a setting of economic growth."
From the Introduction by Adrienne Koch

Edition Notes

"Sources" : p. 660-667. * "For further reading": p.[668]-669.


The Physical Object

Pagination 669 p. ; 24 cm. --
Number of pages 669

ID Numbers

Open Library OL22083148M
Internet Archive americanenlighte00koch
LC Control Number 64021765
Library Thing 496149

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