The thinking revolutionary : principle and practice in the new republic /
Ralph Lerner.
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1987.
xv, 238 p. ; 24 cm.
0801420075 (alk. paper)
More Details
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1987.
0801420075 (alk. paper)
general note
Includes index.
catalogue key
Bibliography: p. 223-232.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1987-09-01:
Both of these books use late 18th- and early 19th-century sources to argue against positions held by many 20th-century scholars. Berger maintains that the judiciary has subverted the intentions of the Founders with respect to the distribution of powers between the states and the nation. At issue is ``who may revise the Constitutionthe people by amendment or the judges.'' Refusing to ``equate what is desirable with what is constitutional,'' Berger focuses on the writings of the Founders to demonstrate that judicial interpretations of the 10th and 14th amendments, and the ``general welfare'' and ``commerce'' clauses, have vastly extended the powers intended for the national government. His conclusion that the Supreme Court should ``curtail its increasing intrusion into the States' internal affairs'' should be carefully considered by every citizen. Lerner's thesis is that the Founding Fathers were not merely reflexive purveyors of widely held opinions or products of impersonal socioeconomic forces, but rather ``thought for themselves and then deployed the results . . . to persuade the persuadable.'' He examines Franklin's autobiography, Jefferson's efforts to revise Virginia's legal code, and the political speeches to grand juries of early Supreme Court justices. The thread of his argument becomes tenuous as he discusses the attitudes of early white leaders toward Indians, and disappears altogether in concluding chapters as he turns to sources such as Tocqueville, Montesquieu, and Adam Smith. Of interest primarily to scholars of American intellectual history. Jack Ray, Loyola/Notre Dame Lib., Baltimore (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Choice on 1988-02:
One of the finest and most provocative of all the scholarship on the Founding published during this bicentennial. Lerner, a well-known political philosopher, has written an account of the Founders that takes seriously their ideas and practical concerns. He sees the Founders as statesmen who thought deeply about the problems of shaping a new democratic and commercial regime, and argues that their thinking explained their actions. Lerner does not view the Founders' thinking as merely ideological (i.e., shaped by interior psychological factors or external economic and social events). In his refreshing and controversial introductory essay he makes a case for ``recovering the Revolution.'' Lerner proceeds with an analysis of the rhetoric of Franklin's autobiography, Jefferson's way of shaping republican citizens through laws and education, and the role of the early circuit-riding Supreme Court justices in the molding of citizen opinion. The author also deals with the limits, tensions, and failures of the Founders' vision, as he focuses on de Tocqueville's theme-the treatment of the Red and Black races by the White conqueror. He concludes with a reflection on the role of commerce in the 18th-century thought. Highly recommended for all collections. Well written, with excellent notes and bibliography.-M.A. Kulbicki, York College of Pennsylvania
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, September 1987
Choice, February 1988
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