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Grant number like: FB-50637-04

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Colleen A. Sheehan
Villanova University (Villanova, PA 19085-1478)

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars
Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2004 – 12/31/2004

The Republicanism of James Madison: The Authority of Public Opinion

"The Republicanism of James Madison: The Authority of Public Opinion" will expand existing studies on the political thought of Madison by offering the first book-length treatment of his critically important 1790s writings and his theory of the politics of public opinion. Madison emphasizes the central importance of public opinion in republican government in his early 1790s writings, the "Notes on Government" and the "Party Press Essays." In these notes and essays he sets forth a defense of the sovereignty of public opinion and its active, authoritative role in all free governments. Madison developed his theory of public opinion within the context of late eighteenth century French thought on "l'opinion publique." "The Republicanism of James Madison" will examine the French writings on public opinion that Madison was avidly studying in the 1780s and 1790s and present a new and distinctive analytical framework for understanding his conception of republicanism. Using this eighteenth century analytical context within which Madison himself was working, this book will also examine how Madison's conception of public opinion differed dramatically from Hamilton's and the Federalists. In 1791-92 Madison took the lead in providing a philosophical defense of the Republican opposition to Hamilton's policies. The feud between these two prominent founders left a lasting impression on the American political landscape. It led to the formation of the first political parties in America, to the Republican victory of 1800, and to the establishment of participatory politics in the United States.