The Republicans and Federalists in Pennsylvania, 1790-1801: A Study in National Stimulus and Local Response

By Harry Marlin Tinkcom | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
POLITICAL OPINIONS AND ELECTIONS 1793-1795

FROM 1793 TO 1795 the cumulative effect of the Genêt episode (expressing as it did the division of opinion in regard to France), the work of the Democratic Societies, the Whiskey Rebellion and Jay's Treaty was such as to produce two general bodies of opinion, Republican and Federalist. But had these events produced two political parties by 1795? The answer to that question requires an examination of the elections held during those years.


RE-ELECTION OF MIFFLIN

In 1793 Mifflin again went before the electorate as a candidate for the governorship. Renominated in the spring through the medium of a legislative caucus, he soon discovered that his most serious competitor was Frederick A. Muhlenberg,1 a former Lutheran clergyman who had served with distinction in the Continental Congress, the State Assembly and the Congress of the United States.

Mifflin had been in office only a few months when Muhlenberg, thinking ahead to the next gubernatorial election, wrote to James Wilson that the Governor had already lost greatly in public favor.2 He was convinced that, had he run in 1790, Mifflin would not have polled even a hundred votes in Berks County, Muhlenberg's own area. If Mifflin sought re-election, Muhlenberg assured his correspondent, he would lose not only Berks but Northampton and Montgomery counties as well. His prediction, possibly a bid for Wilson's future support, was to be proved completely wrong.

Candidate Muhlenberg had much in his favor. As a public figure he had a reputation for integrity and ability, and as the first presiding officer of the House of Representatives he had brought credit to himself and recognition to his State. His rather heavy face, with its prominent nose, pursed lips and double chins, was well known to America's leading politicians.3 Of the candidate's excellent qualities his supporters did not lose sight, but considerable emphasis was placed on the fact that he was not "entirely immersed in party views."4 An anonymous writer in the General Advertiser thought that he had been proposed

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