The Limits of the Atlantic Republican Tradition

Friday, April 17, 2009–Saturday, April 18, 2009
All Day

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street

—a conference organized by Margaret C. Jacob, University of California, Los Angeles; Catherine Secretan, Centre national de la recherche scientifique; and Wijnand Mijnhardt, Universiteit Utrecht


In present-day historiography one model seems to prevail for the interpretation of modern republicanism: that of an Atlantic republican tradition. Although a simple linear development from the “humanist liberty” of the Renaissance political theorists to the high-minded ideals of the American Declaration of Independence has now been recognized as hard to maintain, yet quite a few of the European varieties of republicanism still wait to be taken into consideration. The underestimated influence of the Dutch experience as an important force in the creation of an Anglo-American republican tradition is particularly striking. The two-day conference put in the forefront such cases as the German free cities, the Swiss confederation, the ancestry of the French republicanism, and to compare them with English or Italian models. The main characteristics of their intellectual context, the legacy of the Cambridge School—freedom of the individual, a commercial or capitalist ethic, trust/distrust towards military power—should help define very specific ideologies and contribute, we hope, to a revised history of modern republicanism.

Session 1: The Dutch Republic

Margaret C. Jacob, University of California, Los Angeles
“Was the Eighteenth-Century Republican Essentially Anti-Capitalist?”

Catherine Secretan, Centre national de la recherche scientifique
“True Freedom” (Johan de Witt) and the Dutch Tradition of True Republicanism

Wijnand Mijnhardt, Universiteit Utrecht
“The Economic and Intellectual Foundations of Holland Republicanism”

Session 2: Varieties of European Republicanism

Matthew Kadane, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
“Anti-Trinitarianism and the Republican Tradition in Enlightenment Britain”

Mary Lindemann, University of Miami
“The Evolution of Republicanisms in Hamburg, 1550–1790”

Thomas Maissen, Ruprecht-Karls Universität Heidelberg
“‘Why did the Swiss miss the Atlantic Republican tradition?’ History, Myth, Imperial and Public Law in the Early Modern Swiss Confederation”

Session 3: Republicanism and Revolution

Luc Foisneau, Centre national de la recherche scientifique
“John Adams’ Tacitism and J. G. A. Pocock’s Atlantic Republicanism Thesis Revisited”

Jacob Soll, Rutgers University
“John Adams’ Tacitism and the Evolution of Classical Republican Culture”

Session 4: The Atlantic Tradition Revisited

Marco Geuna, Università degli Studi di Milano
“The Republican Tradition and the Scottish Enlightenment”

J. G. A. Pocock, Johns Hopkins University
“The Lost Atlantis, or Where Does Europe End? Inventing, De-inventing, and Re-inventing a Republican Tradition”