describe the tradition in the American political thought
Sheldon Wolin, who taught for many years at UC Berkeley and Princeton, described two
rival traditions of eighteenth century thought in his essay (assigned for Jan. ), “The People’s Two
Bodies.” One tradition envisioned the body politic as “participatory, democratic, and egalitarian”
(p. ). This tradition was proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence and embodied in the
Articles of Confederation. The other tradition “was aimed at breaking the power of the states
where the democratic tradition of the body politic had taken hold” (p. ); and it sought “not
only to found a strong state, but also to depoliticize the people” (p. ). This tradition was
embodied in the original seven articles of the Constitution.
Even those who don’t accept all Wolin’s assertions can perceive two distinct impules in the
American political thought of the s, and they’re the basis of the two essay topics.
Essay Topic -. Please describe the assertively prodemocratic tradition in the American
political thought of the s, as evident in the work of Franklin, Paine, Samuel Adams, Jefferson,
the Anti-Federalists, and the Bill of Rights. What were the strengths of this tradition? What were
its weaknesses? To what extent has it endured?
Essay Topic -. Please describe the tradition in the American political thought of the
s that sought to restrain or limit democracy, as evident in the work of John Adams, Madison
(in the Federalist papers), Hamilton, Marshall, and the original Constitution. What were the
strengths of this tradition? What were its weaknesses? To wht extent has it endured?