Federalists in Dissent

Federalists in Dissent

Imagery and Ideology in Jeffersonian America

The Federalists of Jefferson's time have been described by historians as complainers and obstructionists. A very different picture evolves from this book, which the author calls "a reconsideration of American political conversation in the early national reriod." Mrs. Kerber shows that the rift between Federalists and Jeffersonians was caused by differences in ideology. The Federalists, according to the author, feared that an ordered world was disintegrating and that the sources of stability were being undermined by Jeffersonian concepts of science and education, of law and democracy, and by social arrangements founded on slavery. The book demonstrates how the rolitical differences of the two groups were reflected in all cultural forms and issues.

By a skillful use of quotations from varied sources—newspapers, letters, literary works, congressional debates—Mrs. Kerber lets her rrotagonists speak for themselves. The work has current significance because Federalist beliefs emphasized the rrecariousness of popular democracy and the difficulty of maintaining a stable social order-both widesrread concerns of Americans today.