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CoastLine: Violence in American democracy and its long-term relative impotence

Attributed to Frederick Kemmelmeyer
Public Domain, from Metropolitan Museum of Art
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George Washington Leads Troops to Crush the Whiskey Rebellion. Artist Unknown

The United States Constitution set up a system that relied on self-government through democratic elections – theoretically, anyway, rendering violence unnecessary.  But getting there included repeated violence, even terrorism, and that ideal has not held up. UNCW Professor David Houpt is with us to explore the role of violence in democracy and whether it's successful.

America was born out of violence in a battle against taxation without representation.  After winning a bloody eight-year war against Great Britain, Americans created the first modern constitutional democracy.   

Ratified in 1788, the United States Constitution set up a system that relied on self-government through democratic elections – theoretically, anyway, rendering violence unnecessary.  But getting there included repeated violence, even terrorism, and that ideal has not held up – as we see from Shay’s Rebellion, the Whiskey Rebellion, the Civil War, even Wilmington’s own 1898 coup d’etat.   Most recently, we witnessed the insurrection of January 6, 2021 – in an attempt to halt the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory.

What is the role of violence in democracy?  What are the means for ousting a government that becomes corrupt or oppressive?  Which forms of protest actually create change? 

Guest:

David Houpt, Assistant Professor, History Department, University of North Carolina Wilmington

https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/178984

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Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.