Summary: In the first study that combines an in-depth examination of Madison’s National Gazette essays of 1791-92 with a study of The Federalist, Colleen Sheehan traces the evolution of Madison’s conception of the politics of communication and public opinion throughout the Founding period, demonstrating how “the sovereign public” would form and rule in America. Contrary to those scholars who claim that Madison dispensed with the need to form an active and virtuous citizenry, Sheehan argues that Madison’s vision for the new nation was informed by the idea of republican self-government, whose manifestation he sought to bring about in the spirit and way of life of the American people. Madison’s story is “the story of an idea”—the idea of America.
Colleen Sheehan is Professor of Political Science at Villanova University, Director of the Ryan Center for Free Institutions and the Public Good, and has served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She is author of James Madison and the Spirit of Republican Self-Government, forthcoming from Cambridge University Press, co-editor of Friends of the Constitution: Writings of the Other Federalists 1787-1788, and author of numerous articles on the American Founding and eighteenth century political and moral thought which have appeared in journals such the William and Mary Quarterly, American Political Science Review, Review of Politics, and Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal. She is currently completing a book on Madison’s Voyage to the World of the Classics.