THE JOHN HARVARD LIBRARY
Cover: The Key of Liberty in PAPERBACK

The Key of Liberty

The Life and Democratic Writings of William Manning, “a Laborer,” 1747–1814

Add to Cart

Product Details

PAPERBACK

$33.00 • £26.95 • €29.50

ISBN 9780674502888

Publication Date: 03/30/1993

Short

240 pages

7 halftones

The John Harvard Library

World

The recovery of the ideas and experiences of William Manning is a major event in the history of the American Revolutionary era. A farmer, foot soldier, and political philosopher, Manning was a powerful democratic voice of the common American in a turbulent age. The public crises of the infant republic—beginning with the Battle of Concord—shaped his thinking, and his writings reveal a sinewy mind grappling with some of the weightiest issues of the nation’s founding. His most notable contribution was the first known plan for a national political association of laboring men. That plan, and Manning’s broader conclusions, open up a new vista on the popular origins of American democracy and the invention of American politics.

Until now, only a few specialists have referred to any of Manning’s writings—though always with some wonderment at his sophistication—and his place as a pioneering and exemplary American democrat has been largely unacknowledged. In this new and complete presentation of his works, the often arid debates over “republicanism” and “liberalism” in early America come to life in vivid human detail. The early growth of democratic impulses among quite ordinary people—impulses that defy orthodox categories, yet come closer to describing the ferment that led to the repeated political conflicts of the late eighteenth century—is here visible and felt. The Key of Liberty allows us a fuller understanding of the popular responses to the major political battles of the early republic, from Shays’ Rebellion through the election of Thomas Jefferson. It offers, better than any book yet published, a grassroots view of the rise of democratic opposition in the new nation. It sheds considerable light on the popular culture—literary, religious, and profane—of the epoch, with more exactness than previous histories, presenting a new interpretation of early American democracy that is bound to be controversial and much discussed.

The editors have written a lengthy and detailed introduction placing Manning and his writings in broad context. They have also modernized the text for easy use and have included full annotation, making this volume an authoritative contribution to the American Revolution and its aftermath.

From Our Blog

Jacket: Out of My Skull: The Psychology of Boredom, by James Danckert and John D. Eastwood, from Harvard University Press

Responding to Boredom during Self-Isolation

No one likes to be bored, but it’s almost inevitable during this time of social distancing and self-quaratine. John D. Eastwood, coauthor of Out of My Skull: The Psychology of Boredom, explains some things that we know about boredom, how to address it—and even what we can gain from it. We have been here before. During the SARS outbreak of 2003, upwards of 23,000 people in the Greater Toronto Area were quarantined. House

‘manifold glories of classical Greek and Latin’

The digital Loeb Classical Library (loebclassics.com) extends the founding mission of James Loeb with an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature.