The Republic in Print

Print Culture in the Age of U.S. Nation Building, 1770-1870

Trish Loughran

Columbia University Press

The Republic in Print

Google Preview

Pub Date: March 2009

ISBN: 9780231139090

568 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $32.00£27.00

Pub Date: September 2007

ISBN: 9780231139083

568 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $95.00£79.00

Pub Date: September 2007

ISBN: 9780231511230

568 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $31.99£27.00

The Republic in Print

Print Culture in the Age of U.S. Nation Building, 1770-1870

Trish Loughran

Columbia University Press

"In the beginning, all the world was America."—John Locke

In the beginning, everything was America, but where did America begin? In many narratives of American nationalism (both popular and academic), the United States begins in print-with the production, dissemination, and consumption of major printed texts like Common Sense , the Declaration of Independence, newspaper debates over ratification, and the Constitution itself. In these narratives, print plays a central role in the emergence of American nationalism, as Americans become Americans through acts of reading that connect them to other like-minded nationals.

In The Republic in Print, however, Trish Loughran overturns this master narrative of American origins and offers a radically new history of the early republic and its antebellum aftermath. Combining a materialist history of American nation building with an intellectual history of American federalism, Loughran challenges the idea that print culture created a sense of national connection among different parts of the early American union and instead reveals the early republic as a series of local and regional reading publics with distinct political and geographical identities.

Focusing on the years between 1770 and 1870, Loughran develops two richly detailed and provocative arguments. First, she suggests that it was the relative lack of a national infrastructure (rather than the existence of a tightly connected print network) that actually enabled the nation to be imagined in 1776 and ratification to be secured in 1787-88. She then describes how the increasingly connected book market of the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s unexpectedly exposed cracks in the evolving nation, especially in regards to slavery, exacerbating regional differences in ways that ultimately contributed to secession and civil war.

Drawing on a range of literary, historical, and archival materials-from essays, pamphlets, novels, and plays, to engravings, paintings, statues, laws, and maps— The Republic in Print provides a refreshingly original cultural history of the American nation-state over the course of its first century.

Trish Loughran possesses an unusually and admirably capacious intellectual character. This is a book that will have to be read by any serious student of the early republic and by any serious student of the crisis over slavery.

Jonathan Arac, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of English, University of Pittsburgh

The Republic in Print delivers a knock-out punch to the supposedly determinate linkages between print culture and nation formation that underwrite much of the scholarship about early America in a number of fields. The book is a massive achievement, marvelously original, refreshingly polemical, compelling in its argument, and complex in its implications. Its importance will be immediately evident and its influence widespread.

Jay Fliegelman, William Robertson Coe Professor in American Literature, Stanford University

Asking us to rethink the meaning of nation and nation building in the aftermath of 1790, Trish Loughran has provided a series of remarkable case studies that support her skepticism about those subjects. An immensely valuable book.

David D. Hall, Bartlett Professor of New England Church History, Harvard University

A masterful reconceptualization of the role of print culture in the founding of the American nation. The claims of this book are ambitious and original, and Trish Loughran delivers. I can think of very few works of American studies that I have read in the past twenty years that are as intellectually satisfying, as archivally meticulous, and as broadly conceived as The Republic in Print.

Cindy Weinstein, professor of English, California Institute of Technology

Loughran's logic throughout is deep, intricate, and scholarly... Good reading.

American Journalism

Loughran's well-written book will likely promote vigorous debate among historians of U.S. nationhood, print culture, and slavery.

Carl Ostrowski, The Journal of American History

A remarkable study, both in its marshaling of archival detail and in its ambitious thesis.

Phillip H. Round, William and Mary Quarterly

...Promise[s] to be useful to literary scholars in many ways.

College Literature

This book is inventively dialectical, unfailingly provocative, and consistently interesting. It formulates its myraid insights with an unusually rich, incisive and occasionally playful language that is deligtful to read.

Oz Frankel, American Historical Review
List of Illustrations
Preface: A View from the Capitol: The Unfinished Work of US Nation Building
1. U.S. Print Culture: The Factory of Fragments
Part I. The Book's Two Bodies: Print Culture and National Founding, 1776-1789
2. Disseminating Common Sense: Thomas Paine and the Scene of Revolutonary Print Culture
3. The Republic in Print: Ratification as Material Text, 1787-1788
Part II. The Nation in Fragments: Federal Representation and its Discontents, 1787-1789
4. Virtual Nation: State-Based Identity and Federalist Fantasy
5. Metrobuilding: The Production of Federalist Space
Part III. The Overextended Republic: Slavery, Abolition, and National Space, 1790-1870
6. Abolitionist Nation: The Space of Organized Abolition, 1790-1840
7. Slavery on the Move: From Fugitive Slave to Virtual Citizen
Conclusion: The Due Process of Nationalism

2007 Oscar Kenshur Book Prize, Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies at Indiana University.

Finalist—Berkshire Conference First Book Prize

About the Author

Trish Loughran received her B.A. from Rutgers University and her masters and doctorate degrees from the University of Chicago. She has curated print and material artifact exhibits at the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia and the David Library of the American Revolution in Washington Crossing, PA, and has held fellowships from the Bibliographical Society of America, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Huntington Library, and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently associate professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she teaches and writes about early U.S. culture.