Once American revolutionaries concluded that the house of the British government would not expand to include them, they chose violent, revolutionary populism. If the new American government were to remain free and stable, American populists would have be become reformers, not revolutionaries. History shows that populist energy must not be allowed to remain outside the institutions of free government. It must be rechanneled within the existing structure, pushing incremental changes that assimilate the populists’ interests to dissipate their alienation.

Richard P. Adelstein is Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, Emeritus, at Wesleyan University.
American HistoryLaw and Liberty