Conceptual Change and the Constitution
Edited by Terrance Ball and J.G.A. Pocock
In this volume distinguished historians and political scientists examine political discourse during that short span of years from the Revolution through ratification, a period of profound political and conceptual change. The concepts of "sovereignty," "representation," "liberty," "virtue," "republic," "democracy"—even "constitution" itself—were virtually recoined. Others, like "federalism," were new inventions. Out of the vehement political arguments and debates of the period came not only a new Constitution but a new political vocabulary—a political idiom that was distinctly recognizably American.
“A corrective to the all-too-facile tendency to find a conceptual uniformity in the Founders' thought.”
“Politics is a communicatively constituted activity. Words are its coin, and speech its medium. And yet, notoriously, the words which make up this medium have hotly contested and historically mutable meanings.”
—from the IntroductionSee all reviews...
“These well-written essays provide new insight into the history of the period.”
—Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
“This volume calls attention to the changing or multiple meanings of key concepts and terms in Revolutionary-era political thought. As against the tendency to stress the relative homogeneity of the ideas that coalesced in the late 1780s, this collection creates, in effect, a set of case studies that illuminate the range of issues around which new and disputed positions formed.”
—Jack Rakove, author of The Beginnings of National PoliticsSee fewer reviews...