Ordinary folk practiced a democracy that was robustly participatory and insistently local. To help tell this story, Nelson turns to early American authors--Hugh Henry Brackenridge, James Fenimore Cooper, Robert Montgomery Bird, and Caroline Kirkland--who were engaged with conflicts that emerged from competing ideals of democracy in the early republic, such as the Whiskey Rebellion and the Anti-Rent War as well as the enclosure of the legal commons, anxieties about popular suffrage, and practices of frontier equalitarianism. While Commons Democracy is about the capture of "democracy" for the official purposes of state consolidation and expansion, it is also a story about the ongoing (if occluded) vitality of commons democracy, of its power as part of our shared democratic history and its usefulness in the contemporary toolkit of citizenship.
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