Hardly anyone has commented upon the seeming disappearance from American life of the Jeffersonian democrat. The Jeffersonian democrat was a hardy American breed, perhaps the only political type original to this continent. Outnumbering all other species between 1800 and 1861, he was a numerous beast long afterward and was spotted quite often even as late as the 1940’s. Since then he seems to have disappeared, if not into extinction at least out of the official catalogs. The disappearance is not surprising—Jeffersonian democrats, since their first discovery in colonial America, have never enjoyed academic or media respectability.
Mr. Whitaker is a keen observer. He has spotted them in the interior where they are alive and well (although restless) and number in the millions. He calls them populists. (“Jeffersonian democrat” is the reviewer’s gratuitous amendment of the author’s terminology, for reasons that will become apparent.) Mr. Whitaker speaks not only as a man of science, demonstrating the existence of the phenomenon. He is also an angry and eloquent advocate in behalf of an endangered species with which he is proud to identify himself.
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