Acclaimed as the definitive study of the period by one of the greatest American historians, The Rise of American Democracy traces a historical arc from the earliest days of the republic to the opening shots of the Civil War. Ferocious clashes among the Founders over the role of ordinary citizens in a government of “we, the people” were eventually resolved in the triumph of Andrew Jackson. Thereafter, Sean Wilentz shows, a fateful division arose between two starkly opposed democracies—a division contained until the election of Abraham Lincoln sparked its bloody resolution. Winner of the Bancroft Award, shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2005 and best book of New York magazine and The Economist.
Sean Wilentz studies U.S. social and political history. He received his Ph.D. in history from Yale University (1980) after earning bachelor’s degrees from Columbia University (1972) and Balliol College, Oxford University (1974). Chants Democratic (1984), which won several national prizes, including the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association, shows how the working class emerged in New York City and examines the changes in politics and political thought that came with it. It has recently been republished with a new preface in a 20th-anniversary edition. In The Kingdom of Matthias (1994), Wilentz and coauthor Paul Johnson tell the story of a bizarre religious cult that sprang up in New York City in the 1830s, exploring in the process the darker corners of the 19th-century religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening. His major work to date, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (2005), was awarded the Bancroft Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Michelle Orihel associate professor of history at Southern Utah University, is known for her use of contemporary popular culture in class like “Assassin’s Creed,” Disney’s “Pocahontas,” and “Hamilton: An American Musical” to generate students’ interest in the early American past. She is also a fan of bringing history into the present with projects like translating the letters of John and Abigail Adams into a series of social media posts. You can follow her on Twitter, @michelle_orihel.