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"The Islam of Democracy":

An odd-sounding phrase I saw in a late 1700s American polemic, Columbian Centinel, June 18, 1791:

We are told, that the copy from which an edition of this work [Paine's Common Sense] was reprinted at Philadelphia, was furnished by the Secretary of State [Jefferson], and was accompanied by a letter, from which the following extract has been published in most of our newspapers. "I am extremely pleased to find that it is to be re-printed here, and that something is at length to be publicly said, against the political heresies which have sprung up among us. I have no doubt our citizens will rally a second time round the standard of Common Sense."

I confess, Sir, I am somewhat at a loss to determine, what this very respectable gentleman means by political heresies. Does he consider this pamphlet of Mr. Paine's as the canonical book of political scripture? As containing the true doctrine of popular infallibility, from which it would be heretical to depart in one single point? The expressions, indeed, imply more; they seem, like the Arabian prophet, to call upon all true believers in the Islam of democracy, to draw their swords, and, in the fervour of their devotion, to compel all their countrymen to cry out, "There is but one Goddess of Liberty, and Common Sense is her prophet."

The author was Publicola, which is generally thought to be a pseudonym for John Quincy Adams (see, e.g., N.H. Gazette, Sept. 10, 1827), then just shy of his 24th birthday. Also, according to Robert J. Allison's The Crescent Obscured: The United States and the Muslim World 40 (2000), the "heretic Jefferson had in mind" was Jefferson's rival and John Q. Adams' father, John Adams.

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