Introduction

We have frequently printed the word democracy,” wrote Walt Whitman in 1871, “yet I cannot too often repeat that it is a word the gist of which still sleeps.”¹ Indeed, the frequency with which “democracy” is invoked in descriptions of the early United States, both by Whitman’s contemporaries and by s...

Full description

Published in: Practicing Democracy p. 1
Main Authors: DANIEL PEART, ADAM I. P. SMITH
Format: Book Chapter
Language: English
Published: University of Virginia Press 07-07-2015
Subjects:
War
Online Access: Get full text
Summary: We have frequently printed the word democracy,” wrote Walt Whitman in 1871, “yet I cannot too often repeat that it is a word the gist of which still sleeps.”¹ Indeed, the frequency with which “democracy” is invoked in descriptions of the early United States, both by Whitman’s contemporaries and by subsequent scholars, is one of the main reasons why its meaning remains so difficult to capture. Delegates to the Philadelphia Convention in 1787 viewed democracy as an antique, and imperfect, form of government, and believed that their task was to check its influence in the nation’s new constitution. By the