Daniel Carpenter Revisits the Petition in 19th Century America
Play • 47 min

The idea of a political system is not simply to be efficient. It's to have justice. It's to have the idea that anybody can come to the seat of power and say, 'Here are my grievances,' and that doesn't mean that by making that claim, they will get exactly what they want. But it does mean that they will get a hearing and in that notion, I think, lies again, a certain part of democracy that is not reduceable just to elections.

Daniel Carpenter

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.

Dan Carpenter is the Allie S. Freed professor of Government at Harvard University and the author of Democracy by Petition: Popular Politics in Transformation, 1790-1870.

Key Highlights Include

  • A history of petitions in the 19th century including an account of the gag rule.
  • The role of petitions in the mobilization of women, Native Americans, the Whig Party, and the antislavery movement
  • How did petitions contribute to democratization of America in the 19th century
  • What would Congress look like if we still had 'petition days'
  • What can we learn from the era of petition politics


Key Links

Democracy by Petition: Popular Politics in Transformation, 1790-1870 by Daniel Carpenter

"The Menthol Cigarette Ban Shows There Is No Democracy Without Petitions," by Daniel Carpenter, Boston Review

"Robust Claims of Vast Lawlessness" from Lapham's Quarterly by Daniel Carpenter

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