- No extended sphere: the Batavian understanding of the American Constitution and the problem of faction
- Early American Studies
- Volume | Issue number
- 10 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR)
In 1795 the old Republic of the Seven United Provinces collapsed, and Dutch revolutionaries founded a new, "Batavian" Republic. This essay reexamines the Batavian appreciation of the example of the American Revolution by focusing on one specific political phenomenon that troubled both the American and the Batavian minds: the problem of faction in republican states. I will show how the Batavians were introduced to the now famous Madisonian theory of faction by the Dutch federalist Gerhard Dumbar, a supporter of the American Constitution who wrote a Dutch anthology of the Federalist Papers. Subsequently, I will trace the Batavian understanding of factionalism as it was displayed in the parliamentary debates of the Dutch National Assembly and in the political weekly De Democraten. In the last section, I will turn to the Dutch revolutionary events of the year 1798 and their relevance for the Batavian answer to the problem of faction, which will lead me to conclude that the American alternative to an understanding of faction was ultimately rejected by all sides in the Dutch revolutionary debate.
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