New Books Network

Saul Cornell and Gerald Leonard

The Partisan Republic

Democracy, Exclusion, and the Fall of the Founders’ Constitution, 1780s-1830s

Cambridge University Press 2019

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in LawNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network October 23, 2019 Ryan Tripp

The Partisan Republic: Democracy, Exclusion, and the Fall of the Founders’ Constitution, 1780s-1830s (Cambridge University Press, 2019) is the first book to unite a...

The Partisan Republic: Democracy, Exclusion, and the Fall of the Founders’ Constitution, 1780s-1830s (Cambridge University Press, 2019) is the first book to unite a top down and bottom up account of constitutional change in the Founding era. Gerald Leonard, Professor of Law at Boston University School of Law, and Saul Cornell, Paul and Diane Guenther Chair in American History at Fordham University, focus on the decline of the Founding generation’s elitist vision of the Constitution and the rise of a more ‘democratic’ vision premised on the exclusion of women and non-whites. It incorporates recent scholarship on topics ranging from judicial review to popular constitutionalism to place judicial initiatives like Marbury vs Madison in a broader, socio-legal context. The book recognizes the role of constitutional outsiders as agents in shaping the law, making figures such as the Whiskey Rebels, Judith Sargent Murray, and James Forten part of a cast of characters that has traditionally been limited to white, male elites such as James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Marshall. Finally, it shows how the ‘democratic’ political party came to supplant the Supreme Court as the nation’s pre-eminent constitutional institution.


Ryan Tripp is part-time and full-time adjunct history faculty for Los Medanos Community College as well as the College of Online and Continuing Education at Southern New Hampshire University.