New Book | Aristocratic Education

Posted in books by Editor on November 2, 2020

From UNC Press:

Mark Boonshoft, Aristocratic Education and the Making of the American Republic (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2020), 296 pages, ISBN: 978-1-469659541 (ebook), $23 / ISBN: 978-1469661360 (paperback), $30 / ISBN: 978-1469659534 (hardcover), $95.

Following the American Revolution, it was a cliché that the new republic’s future depended on widespread, informed citizenship. However, instead of immediately creating the common schools–accessible, elementary education—that seemed necessary to create such a citizenry, the Federalists in power founded one of the most ubiquitous but forgotten institutions of early American life: academies, privately run but state-chartered secondary schools that offered European-style education primarily for elites. By 1800, academies had become the most widely incorporated institutions besides churches and transportation projects in nearly every state.

In this book, Mark Boonshoft shows how many Americans saw the academy as a caricature of aristocratic European education and how their political reaction against the academy led to a first era of school reform in the United States, helping transform education from a tool of elite privilege into a key component of self-government. And yet the very anti-aristocratic critique that propelled democratic education was conspicuously silent on the persistence of racial and gender inequality in public schooling. By tracing the history of academies in the revolutionary era, Boonshoft offers a new understanding of political power and the origins of public education and segregation in the United States.

Mark Boonshoft is assistant professor of history at Duquesne University.


List of Figure and Tables

Introduction: Why Academies?: Aristocratic Education in Revolutionary America

Part I. From Denominational Schools to Nationalist Institutions, 1730–1787
1  The Emergence of Academies: The Great Awakening and Colonial Elite Formation
2  The Academy Effect: Civic Education and the American Revolution
3  Rebuilding Academies: Education and Politics in the Confederation Era

Part II. The Culture of Academies, 1780–1800
4  Defining Merit: Academies and Inequality
5  Diplomacy and Dance: The Geopolitics of Ornamental Education

Part III. From Aristocratic Education to Reform, 1787–1830
6  Creating Consensus: The Politics of State Support for Academies
7  The First Era of School Reform: War, Panic, and Popular Education

Epilogue: The Legacy of Aristocratic Education


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: