Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943


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In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes

The Making of American Nationalism, 1776–1820

David Waldstreicher

Paper ISBN 978-0-8078-4691-9

Copyright 1997 by the University of North Carolina Press

A Prize-Winning Book

  Jamestown Prize (1995)

Visit the University of North Carolina Press web page for this book.

“Waldstreicher’s brilliant study brings ideological abstractions down to the streets; it links political mobilization to the emergence of collective identities in the early republic. Perpetual Fetes will transform the way we think about the origins and development of American political culture. . . . An exciting contribution to the new literature on the social construction of national identities. A major achievement.”

--Peter S. Onuf

“Cultural history at its best, Perpetual Fetes examines the complex interplay between the new bourgeois press, elite fetes, popular festivals, and street theater. Carefully, creatively, it traces the ways warring groups of ‘Founding Fathers’ deployed the press and festivals, singly and collectively, to constitute a new nation and a new American ‘people,’ battling all the time over whose bodies were legitimate members of the American body politic.”

--Carroll Smith-Rosenberg

“America’s numerous celebrations, pageants, and parades may seem to be little more than patriotic rituals of assent. David Waldstreicher knows better. He shows how the early republic’s festivals actually helped create American nationalism, not out of bland consensus but out of intense conflict over America’s destiny. An excellent and important work.”

--Sean Wilentz