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Demos Assembled

Democracy and the International Origins of the Modern State, 1840–1880

Demos Assembled

Democracy and the International Origins of the Modern State, 1840–1880

Previous studies have covered in great detail how the modern state slowly emerged from the early Renaissance through the seventeenth century, but we know relatively little about the next great act: the birth and transformation of the modern democratic state. And in an era where our democratic institutions are rife with conflict, it’s more important now than ever to understand how our institutions came into being.

Stephen W. Sawyer’s Demos Assembled provides us with a fresh, transatlantic understanding of that political order’s genesis. While the French influence on American political development is well understood, Sawyer sheds new light on the subsequent reciprocal influence that American thinkers and politicians had on the establishment of post-revolutionary regimes in France. He argues that the emergence of the stable Third Republic (1870–1940), which is typically said to have been driven by idiosyncratic internal factors, was in fact a deeply transnational, dynamic phenomenon. Sawyer’s findings reach beyond their historical moment, speaking broadly to conceptions of state formation: how contingent claims to authority, whether grounded in violence or appeals to reason and common cause, take form as stateness.

272 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2018

History: American History, European History, General History

Political Science: Political and Social Theory


“Recommended. . . A well-researched work focusing on several French contributors to democratic theory in the 19th century. . . Sawyer’s careful work will be useful for those interested in 19th-century France and its democratic thought.”


“Sawyer provides an intelligent tour through mid-nineteenth-century debates about democracy.”

Philip Nord | The Journal of Modern History

“Sawyer's analysis is subtle, original and coherent. His language is precise and succinct. He has written a challenging, ambitious and consequently quite difficult book, which requires repeated reading and thought--and certainly more than one review.”

Robert Tombs | H-France

“An engaging, insightful, and lucid book that is likely to make a significant contribution to a number of fields. The unique way Sawyer combines a critical history of French democratic thought with an engagement with the broader literature on the democratic state and a deep knowledge of the practical questions posed by the advent of democracy in nineteenth-century France are what make Demos Assembled both important and original.”

Michael C. Behrent, Appalachian State University

Demos Assembled is a groundbreaking book that makes decisive contributions to multiple historiographies: nineteenth-century France, French republicanism, the history of the state, and the development of modern political thought. Sawyer has produced a first-rate work of scholarship marked by both a mature historical vision and intelligent, engaging readings of individual thinkers. His approach is sophisticated, his argument persuasive, and his conclusions powerful. This is a significant work of history.”

Andrew Jainchill, Queen’s University

“With this distinguished volume, Stephen Sawyer boldly inaugurates a re-excavation of the entire history of democracy and statecraft. A singular achievement!”

William J. Novak, University of Michigan

Table of Contents

Introduction: Problems of the Democratic State
Chapter 1: Inequality: Alexis de Tocqueville and the Democratic Foundations of a Modern Administrative Power
Chapter 2: Equality: Lucien-Anatole Prévost-Paradol and the Democratization of Government
Chapter 3: Emergency: Edouard Laboulaye’s Constitutionalism
Chapter 4: Necessity: Adolph Thiers’s Liberal Democratic Executive
Chapter 5: Exclusion: Jenny d’Héricourt on the Edges of the Political
Chapter 6: Terror: Louis Blanc’s Historical Theory of Circumstances
Conclusion: Democratic Ends of State

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