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The Puritan Tradition in Revolutionary, Federalist, and Whig Political Theory

A Rhetoric of Origins

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Dean Hammer

The Puritan Tradition examines how a Puritan past, historically reconstructed as a founding legend, gave meaning to early American political culture. In tracing the rhetorical invocations of this Puritan legacy, this study lends important insight into how this constructed past helped shape the political thought that underlies revolutionary, Federalist, and Whig political discourse. This emphasis on the changing political uses of this puritan Past is an important departure from scholarship that identifies an enduring Puritan essence that is read forward into American culture. Where such scholarship has often yielded either unpersuasive genealogies or a view of Puritanism as dissolving into irrelevance, The Puritan Tradition demonstrates how a Puritan past continues to play a critical role in American political identity.