Fall 2017 catalog cover

The Penn Press list for fall 2017 includes hardcover releases, first-time paperbacks, and ebook editions intended for scholars, students, and serious general readers worldwide. Click here to explore our forthcoming books, grouped by subject area.

The Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776
A Study in Revolutionary Democracy

J. Paul Selsam

296 pages | 6 x 9
Cloth 1936 | ISBN 9781512806366 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512806373 | Buy from De Gruyter $79.95 | €69.95 | £70.50
This book is available under special arrangement from our European publishing partner De Gruyter.
An Anniversary Collection volume

"Selsam's problem in this able monograph is to determine with exactness which of the conflicting social interests in Pennsylvania were responsible for the first state constitution drafted and adopted in 1776. His materials and subjects are among the most important in the history Quaker commonwealth, for the movement toward the constitutional convention of July, '76, was part of a larger struggle which had been going on between various groups within the colony for more than a decade. The differences of opinion concerning 'who should rule at home' had always been of importance in the counties west of the Schuylkill than the issue of independence, and gradually as mercantile interests either joined the ranks of rebellion were overwhelmed by the radicals, Philadelphians, too, became preoccupied with the effort to subdue the governing agencies to the service of certain groups. The contest over adopting the constitution represented not so much a difference in political credos as it did 'the clash of economic, ethnic, religious, social, sectional interests.' It was an issue which pitted property against poverty, landlord against tenant, sect against sect ; and in describing it Dr. Selsam appropriately uses the analysis which identifies the opinion with the an analysis accepted in some quarters as the merest truism, but elsewhere regarded as a dangerous and bleak materialism. If it were not commendable many other reasons, his book would be important as an example of this suggestive type of historical criticism."—Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography
Provides an account of the rebellion of the unprotected frontiersmen and the unfranchised artisans, who constituted two-thirds of the population in Pennsylvania, against the Quaker property owners in their attempt to achieve a voice in the government and establish a liberal constitution in 1776.

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