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Democratic VistasReflections on the Life of American Democracy$
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Jedediah Purdy, Anthony Kronman, and Cynthia Farrar

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780300102567

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300102567.001.0001

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Public Emblem, Private Realm: Family and Polity in the United States

Public Emblem, Private Realm: Family and Polity in the United States

(p.53) 3 Public Emblem, Private Realm: Family and Polity in the United States
Democratic Vistas

Nancy F. Cott

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses how conceptions of family have figured centrally in the history of thinking about American representative government. Although common wisdom roots American democracy conceptually in individualism, with a political genealogy indebted to the social contract theory of John Locke and his fellow liberals, there is at least equal evidence for a political genealogy leading from Montesquieu and the Scottish moralists to root American representative government in a family unit based on monogamous marriage.

Keywords:   family, American representative government, democracy, monogamous marriage, Montesquieu, Scottish moralists

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