The American Experiment and the Idea of Democracy in British Culture, 1776–1914  book cover
1st Edition

The American Experiment and the Idea of Democracy in British Culture, 1776–1914

ISBN 9781409400806
Published October 23, 2013 by Routledge
254 Pages

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Book Description

In nineteenth-century Britain, the effects of democracy in America were seen to spread from Congress all the way down to the personal habits of its citizens. Bringing together political theorists, historians, and literary scholars, this volume explores the idea of American democracy in nineteenth-century Britain. The essays span the period from Independence to the First World War and trace an intellectual history of Anglo-American relations during that period. Leading scholars trace the hopes and fears inspired by the American model of democracy in the works of commentators, including Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft, Alexis de Tocqueville, Charles Dickens, John Stuart Mill, Richard Cobden, Charles Dilke, Matthew Arnold, Henry James and W. T. Stead. By examining the context of debates about American democracy and notions of ’culture’, citizenship, and race, the collection sheds fresh light on well-documented moments of British political history, such as the Reform Acts, the Abolition of Slavery Act, and the Anti-Corn Law agitation. The volume also explores the ways in which British Liberalism was shaped by the American example and draws attention to the importance of print culture in furthering radical political dialogue between the two nations. As the comprehensive introduction makes clear, this collection makes an important contribution to transatlantic studies and our growing sense of a nineteenth-century modernity shaped by an Atlantic exchange. It is an essential reference point for all interested in the history of the idea of democracy, its political evolution, and its perceived cultural consequences.



Ella Dzelzainis is a Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Literature in the School of English, Newcastle University, and Ruth Livesey is Reader in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Thought, Royal Holloway University of London, UK.


’Ranging over several discourses and disciplines, this remarkably well-focused collection should serve as a starting point for anyone interested in the history of British responses to American democracy.' Daniel Hack, University of Michigan, USA '... Taken as a whole ... this volume grapples creditably with the complexity of transatlantic political and cultural exchanges, and adds significantly to our understanding of the societies and governmental systems of Britain and America, and of British opinion about the United States. ...' Journal of British Studies ’...offers a valuable overview of the British relationship to American democracy across the period and while answering many questions it prepares the ground for further scholarship.’ Journal of Transatlantic Studies '... [an]overarching interdisciplinary approach ... ensures that this collection is comfortably more than the sum of its parts. This latest volume in Ashgate's nineteenth-century transatlantic studies series should therefore be essential reading for all students and scholars wishing to further their understanding of the vitally important subject of political and cultural Atlantic exchange.' History