Substance or Window-Dressing?: Classical Conceptions of Patriotic Citizenship in the Eulogies of George Washington and Andrew Jackson

Lawton, Stephanie, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Gallagher, Gary, Department of History, University of Virginia

Eulogies for George Washington and Andrew Jackson demonstrate that classical allusions contributed significantly to the development of American nationalism in the early nineteenth century. Although such allusions to ancient Greece and Rome in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American texts have been dismissed by Bernard Bailyn as “window-dressing” or mere rhetorical devices, they provided important models for republican citizenship. Eulogists compared Washington and Jackson to ancient heroes such as Cincinnatus and Julius Caesar to create a set of public values that American presidents and ordinary citizens were expected to emulate. Because of their easy adaptability, classical allusions also could accommodate American Protestant beliefs, the political ideas of Federalists and Jacksonian Democrats, and the notion of American exceptionalism. In addition to the Bible and works of the Enlightenment, the Classics therefore helped define the ideals of citizenship and political culture in the early American Republic

MA (Master of Arts)
George Washington, republicanism, nationalism, Classics, citizenship, Andrew Jackson, eulogies
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