Date of Award

Spring 5-10-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Even though most historians agree on democracy’s basic definition and that it emerged with the American Revolution in the United States, historians disagree on how it developed after the Revolution. Some argue that democracy thrived while others claim that it was tamed during the 1790s. Instead of siding with one side or the other, this thesis argues that democracy meant different things to different people and developed in multiple ways. People created their own definition and over time they helped evolve it and one group was the Democratic-Republican Societies that formed in 1793 and ended in 1796. Their definition started out by describing an egalitarian society, but over time it evolved in reaction to three different events: French Revolution, the Whiskey Rebellion, and the Jay Treaty. Each event allowed their definition to become clearer because through their responses the Societies defined democracy.