Matteo Battistini

"The Transatlantic Republican". Thomas Paine and the Democracy in the "Atlantic World"

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Atlantic History - American and French Revolutions - Constitutionalism

American and English loyalists represented Thomas Paine as the transatlantic Republican who denied his Britishness and aimed at creating a new Atlantic world, one of sovereign republics in America and France. His figure makes it possible to question both the exceptionalism of the American Revolution and the uniqueness of the French Revolution. Paine's involvement in constitutional debates of Revolutionary Pennsylvania and Thermidorian France allows pointing out the emerging tension between democracy and constitutionalism in the new Atlantic world: facing American and French leaders, who outlined constitutionalism for taming democratic popular expectations, Paine criticized the property qualification to vote and highlighted suffrage as one of the keywords that would mark early Nineteenth century. Paine's endorsement of extended suffrage also underlined the rising tension between social inequality and political emancipation as an additional variable for addressing the uncertain origin and development of constitutionalism as a peculiar experience of the Atlantic world.

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