09 January 2019

BOOK: Gerald LEONARD and Saul CORNELL, The Partisan Republic : Democracy, Exclusion, and the Fall of the Founders’ Constitution, 1780s-1830s [New Histories of American Law] (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019). ISBN 9781107663893, £ 21.99

(Source: CUP)

Cambridge University Press is publishing a new book on constitutional change in the US’  Founding Era.


The Partisan Republic is the first book to unite a top down and bottom up account of constitutional change in the Founding era. The book focuses on the decline of the Founding generation's elitist vision of the Constitution and the rise of a more 'democratic' vision premised on the exclusion of women and non-whites. It incorporates recent scholarship on topics ranging from judicial review to popular constitutionalism to place judicial initiatives like Marbury vs Madison in a broader, socio-legal context. The book recognizes the role of constitutional outsiders as agents in shaping the law, making figures such as the Whiskey Rebels, Judith Sargent Murray, and James Forten part of a cast of characters that has traditionally been limited to white, male elites such as James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Marshall. Finally, it shows how the 'democratic' political party came to supplant the Supreme Court as the nation's pre-eminent constitutional institution.


Gerald Leonard, Boston University
Gerald Leonard is Professor of Law at Boston University School of Law and author of The Invention of Party Politics: Federalism, Popular Sovereignty, and Constitutional Development in Jacksonian Illinois (2002).

Saul Cornell, Fordham University, New York
Saul Cornell is the Paul and Diane Guenther Chair in American History at Fordham University, New York, and author of The Other Founders: Antifederalism and the Dissenting Tradition in America, 1788–1828 (1999) and A Well Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America (2006).


1. The new constitution
2. The federalist constitution and the limits of constitutional dissent
3. The democracy vs the law: the role of the federal judiciary, 1789–1815
4. The paradoxes of Jeffersonian constitutionalism
5. The white democracy
6. The Marshall Court, the Indian nations, and the democratic ascendancy
Conclusion: the constitutional triumph and failure of the democratic party
Bibliographical essay

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