Scandal and Civility: Journalism and the Birth of American Democracy

Paperback | September 29, 2010

byMarcus Daniel

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A new breed of journalists came to the fore in post-revolutionary America - fiercely partisan, highly ideological, and possessed of a bold sense of vocation and purpose as they entered the fray of political debate. Often condemned by latter-day historians and widely seen in their own time as athreat to public and personal civility, these colorful figures emerge in this provocative new book as the era's most important agents of political democracy.Through incisive portraits of the most influential journalists of the 1790s - William Cobbett, Benjamin Franklin Bache, Philip Freneau, Noah Webster, John Fenno, and William Duane - Scandal and Civility moves beyond the usual cast of "revolutionary brothers" and "founding fathers" to offer a freshperspective on a seemingly familiar story. Marcus Daniel demonstrates how partisan journalists, both Federalist and Democratic-Republican, were instrumental in igniting and expanding vital debates over the character of political leaders, the nature of representative government, and, ultimately, therole of the free press itself. Their rejection of civility and self-restraint - not even icons like George Washington were spared their satirical skewerings - earned these men the label "peddlers of scurrility." Yet, as Daniel shows, by breaking with earlier conceptions of "impartial" journalism,they challenged the elite dominance of political discourse and helped fuel the enormous political creativity of the early republic.Daniel's nuanced and penetrating narrative captures this key period of American history in all its contentious complexity. And in today's climate, when many decry media "excesses" and the relentlessly partisan and personal character of political debate, his book is a timely reminder that discord anddifference were essential to the very creation of our political culture.

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A new breed of journalists came to the fore in post-revolutionary America - fiercely partisan, highly ideological, and possessed of a bold sense of vocation and purpose as they entered the fray of political debate. Often condemned by latter-day historians and widely seen in their own time as athreat to public and personal civility, the...

Marcus Daniel is Associate Professor of History at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.68 inPublished:September 29, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199764816

ISBN - 13:9780199764815

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Other Founding Fathers1. John Fenno and the Constitution of a National Character2. Philip Freneau and the Invention of the Republican Party3. Benjamin Franklin Bache and the Desacralization of George Washington4. Noah Webster and the Demoralization of the Body Politic5. William Cobbett and the Politics of Personality6. William Duane and the Triumph of InfidelityConclusion: The Revenge of Respectability

Editorial Reviews

"More than any other book, this one shows how the leading journalists of the 1790s were important public figures. Their ideas as well as their doings mattered. Evenhanded, lively, probing--a thoughtful book about thoughtful people who had a tremendous impact on the birth of American politics."--David Waldstreicher, author of Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery, and the American Revolution