A Vernacular Republican Rhetoric: William Manning's Key of Libberty
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Our analysis of farmer and tavern-keeper William Manning’s 1798 Key of Libberty extends the concept of American republican rhetoric to include both elite and vernacular forms. We find that the key components of Manning’s vernacular republicanism are: an aggressive use of the rhetoric of critique; the demand for transparency in public argument; the rejection of elite leadership; and the belief that decisions must be made in the interest of the common good. We compare vernacular to elite republicanism and conclude that the vernacular perspective has endured in American reform rhetoric.