My thanks are due to Eldon Eisenach and Jonathan Scott for comments on previous drafts of this article, and especially to the Political Theory Convocation at Texas A&M, where a previous draft was subjected to the scrutiny of Judy Baer, Lisa Ellis, Cary Nederman, Jim Rogers, Diego von Vacano, and several graduate students from the Department of Political Science.
The First Machiavellian Moment in America
Version of Record online: 8 FEB 2011
©2011, Midwest Political Science Association
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 55, Issue 2, pages 450–462, April 2011
How to Cite
Maloy, J. S. (2011), The First Machiavellian Moment in America. American Journal of Political Science, 55: 450–462. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2010.00506.x
- Issue online: 1 APR 2011
- Version of Record online: 8 FEB 2011
Standard interpretations of early American political thought and of the classical-republican tradition fit uneasily with an overlooked episode in the history of ideas: the reception of Machiavelli in seventeenth-century New England. Some puritans there not only found ways to justify bad means for good ends but also adopted a deeper, properly political Machiavellism, upholding the priority of popular judgment over elite wisdom and of institutionalized accountability over discretionary political authority. Unlike the eighteenth-century republicanism that has preoccupied modern scholarship, the theory of radical democracy associated with the first Machiavellian moment in America puts fundamental institutional reform and accountability with teeth on the agenda of democratic theory.