Interpreting the founding: guide to the enduring debates over the origins and foundations of the American republic

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University Press of Kansas, 2006 - History - 174 pages
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As politicians and judges argue over the original intent of our country's founding fathers, the American Founding itself continues to inspire a prodigious amount of research and commentary, reflecting a bewildering array of methods and interpretations. Alan Gibson now offers readers an insightful and convenient guide through this daunting and sprawling body of scholarship. Comprehensive and judicious, Interpreting the Founding provides summaries and analyses of the leading interpretive frameworks that have guided the study of the Founding since the publication of Charles Beard's An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution in 1913. Gibson argues that scholarship on the Founding is no longer steered by a single dominant approach or even by a set of questions that control its direction. He also examines the challenges posed to Founding scholarship by this diversity and complexity and the possibilities opened by new avenues of inquiry that have recently emerged. The book features extended discussions of pioneering works by leading scholars of the Founding--including Louis Hartz, Bernard Bailyn, Gordon Wood, and Garry Wills--that best exemplify different schools of interpretation. Gibson focuses on six approaches that have dominated the modern study of the Founding: Progressive, Lockean/liberal, Republican Scottish Enlightenment, multicultural, and multiple traditions approaches. For each approach, he traces its fundamental assumptions, revealing deeper ideological and methodological differences between schools of thought that, on the surface, seem to differ only about the interpretation of historical facts. While previous accounts have treated the study of the Founding as the sequentialreplacement of one paradigm by another, Gibson argues that all of these interpretations survive as alternative and still viable approaches. By examining the strengths and weaknesses of each approach and showing how each has simultaneously illuminated and masked core truths about the American Founding, he renders a balanced account of the current debate over the origins and foundations of the American republic and offers solid footing on the path to understanding the vast literature devoted to this important subject.

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Review: Interpreting the Founding: Guide to the Enduring Debates Over the Origins and Foundations of the American Republic (American Political Thought)

User Review  - Jor-dahn - Goodreads

This is a solid introduction to the world of interpreting the American founding. It is a quick read, only 100 pages, but it also offers 50 pages of valuable footnotes - essentially a bibliography on ... Read full review


The Progressive Interpretation
The Tunnel History of Republicanism
The Scottish Conversation

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