Institutionalizing the Information Revolution: Debates over Knowledge Institutions in the Early American Republic




Oberle, George D.

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The United States was created in the midst of an information revolution. The leaders of the newly created American republic believed the citizens needed to be educated and informed in order to be effective participants in governing the new republic. A participatory government rested its fortune and authority on the expertise of its citizens to obtain and employ useful knowledge To address this issue, George Washington proposed that the country establish a national university that attract men from all parts of the country and educate them at public expense in the national capital. Subsequently, every president from Washington to John Quincy Adams witnessed a debate over how the country could best facilitate the creation and dissemination of knowledge. At the heart of these debates were questions about what constituted the most important forms of information in a republican polity, who should have access to this knowledge, and how--in what institutional form--the information should be disseminated.



American history, History, Early American Republic, Information Revolution, Knowledge Institutions, National Museum, National University, Smithsonian Institution