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The Strength of a People: The Idea of an Informed Citizenry in America, 1650-1870
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The Strength of a People: The Idea of an Informed Citizenry in America, 1650-1870 (Paperback)

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Synopsis

Thomas Jefferson's conviction that the health of the nation's democracy would depend on the existence of an informed citizenry has been a cornerstone of our political culture since the inception of the American republic. Even today's debates over education reform and the need to be competitive in a technologically advanced, global economy are rooted in the idea that the education of rising generations is crucial to the nation's future. In this book, Richard Brown traces the development of the ideal of an informed citizenry in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries and assesses its continuing influence and changing meaning. Although the concept had some antecedents in Europe, the full articulation of the ideal relationship between citizenship and knowledge came during the era of the American Revolution. The founding fathers believed that the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of the press, religion, speech, and assembly would foster an informed citizenry. According to Brown, many of the fundamental institutions of American democracy and society, including political parties, public education, the media, and even the postal system, have enjoyed wide government support precisely because they have been identified as vital for the creation and maintenance of an informed populace. |This is the first paperback edition of a book that has become the reliable standard synthesis of scholarship on women's experiences during the Revolutionary era. Chapters have been revised to incorporate the work of 100 studies that have appeared since the original publication in 1996. Gundersen traces the lives of women in 3 households over 3 generations, including perspectives from Native American, wealthy white revolutionary, and middle-class plantation and slave households.

Richard D. Brown is professor of history at the University of Connecticut. His books include Knowledge Is Power: The Diffusion of Information in Early America, 1700-1865.

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