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The Concept of Representation in the Age of the American Revolution

"Americans did not rebel from Great Britain because they wanted a different government. They rebelled because they believed that Parliament was violating constitutional precepts. Colonial Whigs did not fight for American rights. They fought for English rights."—from the Preface

John Phillip Reid goes on to argue that it was generally the application, not the definition, of these rights that was disputed. The sole—and critical—exception concerned the right of representation. American perceptions of the responsibility of representatives to their constituents, the necessity of equal representation, and the constitutional function of consent had diverged gradually, but significantly, from British tradition. Drawing on his mastery of eighteenth-century legal thought, Reid explores the origins and shifting meanings of representation, consent, arbitrary rule, and constitution. He demonstrates that the controversy which led to the American Revolution had more to do with jurisprudential and constitutional principles than with democracy and equality. This book will interest legal historians, Constitutional scholars, and political theorists.

260 pages | 6.00 x 9.00 | © 1989

History: American History

Law and Legal Studies: Legal History

Table of Contents

1. The Concept of Consent
Roots of Consent
Meaning of Consent
Constitutionalism of Consent
2. Mechanics of Consent
Implied Consent
Consent by Representation
Purpose of Representation
3. Concept of Representation
Representation of Property
Property of Representation
The Property of Election
4. Theories of Representation
Doctrine of Shared Interests
Doctrine of Shared Burdens
Virtual Representation
Interest and Virtual Representation
5. Responsibility of Representation
Expectations of Representation
Autonomy of Representation
Independence of Representation
6. Accountables of Representation
Universal Representation
Local Representation
7. Authority of Consultation
Mechanics of Consultation
8. Practice of Instructions
Theory of Instructions
Force of Instructions
Two Cases
9. Corruption of Representation
Imbalance of Corruption
Constitutional Reaction
10. Reformation of Consent
Equal Representation
Constitutionalism and Reform
11. American Representation
Burdens and Interests
Local Knowledge
12. Dilemmas of Consent
Short Titles

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