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By Carolyn Eastman

Within the many years after the yank Revolution, population of the U.S. started to form a brand new nationwide id. Telling the tale of this messy but formative method, Carolyn Eastman argues that normal women and men gave aspiring to American nationhood and nationwide belonging by way of first studying to visualize themselves as participants of a shared public.She finds that the production of this American public—which in simple terms steadily built nationalistic qualities—took position as women and men engaged with oratory and print media not just as readers and listeners but additionally as writers and audio system. Eastman paints brilliant snap shots of the arenas the place this engagement performed out, from the universities that urged young children in elocution to the debating societies, newspapers, and presses wherein various teams jostled to outline themselves—sometimes opposed to one another. Demonstrating the formerly unrecognized quantity to which nonelites participated within the formation of our principles approximately politics, manners, and gender and race family, A country of Speechifiers offers an exceptional family tree of early American identification.

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Extra resources for A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public after the Revolution

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During the first thirty years of nationhood, these volumes remained oriented to teaching children to be gentlemen and gentlewomen and expressed only passing concern with what would later be termed civic or national values. This analysis contrasts sharply with earlier scholars’ assertions that schoolbooks in this era constituted “civic texts” oriented to teaching republican values— assessments that refer solely to two exceptionally nationalistic books, by Caleb Bingham and by Noah Webster. 69 Other than these two books, the scores of texts published in this era displayed virtually no concern with civic matters until after the War of 1812.

The new United States decidedly lacked such a leader. American schoolbooks were replete with eloquent speeches on liberty and truth, but most had been delivered by contemporary British leaders such as William Pitt and Edmund Burke. The Revolution had produced a few memorable speakers—most notably Patrick Henry, whose “give me 18â•… ) c h a p t er on e liberty or give me death” speech remained legendary (and apocryphal)—but none had assumed prominent positions in the postwar federal government; some of them, including Henry, had even become vocal Anti-Federalists.

In sum, the focus on oratory in early republican education established conceptions of public engagement that were widely shared across regions and in urban and rural settings alike and played an important role in offering a range of definitions of the American public overall. The cross-fertilization of education, public speech, and nationalism created new ways of understanding the public and its leaders in the early American republic. 5 To be sure, it proved easy to find late eighteenth-century writings that advocated education as the best means of promoting national identification in youth, as if it were only a matter of time before Americans would arrive at a uniform, publicly financed system for educating the masses (it would take a century).

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