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Frontier Democracy
Constitutional Conventions in the Old Northwest


  • Date Published: January 2016
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107090767

£ 82.99

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About the Authors
  • Frontier Democracy examines the debates over state constitutions in the antebellum Northwest (Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin) from the 1820s through the 1850s. This is a book about conversations: in particular, the fights and negotiations over the core ideals in the constitutions that brought these frontier communities to life. Silvana R. Siddali argues that the Northwestern debates over representation and citizenship reveal two profound commitments: the first to fair deliberation, and the second to ethical principles based on republicanism, Christianity, and science. Some of these ideas succeeded brilliantly: within forty years, the region became an economic and demographic success story. However, some failed tragically: racial hatred prevailed everywhere in the region, in spite of reformers' passionate arguments for justice, and resulted in disfranchisement and even exclusion for non-white Northwesterners that lasted for generations.

    • An interdisciplinary study that comprises constitutional history, history of the antebellum Northwest, economic, racial, cultural, demographic, and social history
    • The first book to bring all of these fields together in a study of antebellum state constitutions
    • This is the product of extensive archival research
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Silvana R. Siddali's manuscript is informative and significant for understanding antebellum political culture in the Old Northwest, especially the deep roots that democracy had sunk. Her description of how the delegates, general public, and reform groups stimulated democratic discourse over a multitude of legal topics is unique among histories of constitutional conventions in the Old Northwest. Her command of the literature on such a vast array of topics is not only astounding, it is mind-boggling.' James L. Huston, Oklahoma State University

    'Frontier Democracy is soundly researched, thorough, and clearly written. The most interesting and refreshing aspect of this book is the way it places constitution-making as a purposive activity within the lives of early Midwesterners, and firmly in the context of the economic and social experiences arising from settling and developing new states. Silvana R. Siddali succeeds in taking the often arcane-seeming processes of constitutional debate out of the realms of specialist constitutional, legal, or party-political history and into the wider sphere of the social and political history of the antebellum period.' Christopher Clark, University of Connecticut

    'Frontier Democracy is the product of extensive archival research, close reading of many constitutions both within and outside of the Old Northwest, and an impressive range of primary and secondary sources. This text is an excellent source for undergraduate courses and for graduate studies in political history, antebellum America, western history, and constitutional and legal history.' Dana Elizabeth Weiner, Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario

    'Meticulously researched and engagingly written, Siddali's work provides intriguing insights into the dilemmas that accompany all democratic deliberations, while simultaneously raising important questions about what it meant to be an American in the early and mid-nineteenth century.' M. R. Scherer, Choice

    '… for scholars looking to gauge the embedded liberalism of the nineteenth-century American state or seeking to place these developing democracies in a comparative setting, Frontier Democracy will be a valuable resource.' James Simeone, The Journal of American History

    'Frontier Democracy is an exhaustively researched account that provides fresh perspectives on several aspects of antebellum northwestern state conventions, most importantly in the attention given to the role of African Americans and women's groups outside the convention halls in trying to gain a hearing for various issues … In detailing the various ways that groups secured a hearing and occasional votes on citizenship issues in antebellum Northwest state constitutional conventions and analyzing the resulting debates in and out of these conventions, Siddali has broadened the scholarly focus and made a fine contribution to standard accounts.' John Dinan, The Annals of Iowa

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107090767
    • length: 403 pages
    • dimensions: 238 x 160 x 28 mm
    • weight: 0.72kg
    • contains: 20 b/w illus. 3 maps 15 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Delegates
    2. Constitutions
    3. Laws
    4. Lawmakers
    5. Judges
    6. Land rights
    7. Places
    8. Citizens
    9. Wives
    10. Banks

  • Author

    Silvana R. Siddali, Saint Louis University, Missouri
    Silvana R. Siddali is Associate Professor of History at Saint Louis University, Missouri.

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