Marshall Smelser the Democratic Republic 1801-1815 Book Review

Excerpt from Book Review :

Democratic Republic

The author of The Democratic Republic: 1801-1815 is historian Marshall Smelser. In this text, author Smelser covers a decade and a half of American history. This book describes the administrations of both President Thomas Jefferson and nearly the entire administration of President James Madison. It also covers all major historical events of the era in ways that are easily accessible, even to those who are not well-educated in American history. Marshall Smelser focuses both the actual historical events themselves, but also in how these historical events related to the creation and implementation of diplomacy between the United States and other countries.

Many historians and authors of historical texts are guilty of being, at the very least, subconsciously biased in favor or against the object of their writing. More often than not, these biases are quite obvious. However, most historians do not admit that they have these biases, if they are even aware of them. Often, when an historian writes about a topic that he or she feels passionate about, the opinions of the author make their way into both the text and subtext of that book. In The Democratic Republic, Marshall Smelser attempts to rectify these discrepancies. Particularly of interest is the fact that other historians are prone to elevating the Founding Fathers to nearly God-like proportions. In his book, Smelser makes it evident that those like Thomas Jefferson were still men and that they were prone to the same errors in judgment as any other man, past or present. The author uses historical data in the form of first-hand accounts and other documentation such as letters and other forms of correspondence, news articles from the period, and other empirical evidence to ascertain a far more realistic portrayal of the third and fourth Presidents of these United States than has been reported in other works.

Jefferson is a major focus of The Democratic Republic and James Madison is the other. Part of this humanizing of Jefferson reclassifies him from some sort of radical, intent on righting ethical wrongs, into the more true-to-live individual who was bent on creating an independent United States, but was not willing to hold his ground on issues of disagreement in the Continental Congress and then, as President. His dedication to the liberty of the newly-formed America is linked directly to the perception of the United States by foreign countries…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited:

Smelser, Marshall. The Democratic Republic: 1801-1815. New York: Harper & Row. 1968.


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