The American States during and after the Revolution, 1775-1789

By Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE MIDDLE STATES

AN interesting parallel can be traced between political events in New York and in Pennsylvania from 1776 to 1790. It is true that in New York there existed general unanimity on constitutional questions, and there was only one Governor; while Pennsylvanians quarreled constantly over their Constitution and in this period had a half dozen Presidents. But in both States all political differences had for a time to be sunk to deal with British invaders. In both occurred a deplorably extreme vendetta against loyalists and neutrals. This bitter persecution began in Pennsylvania as soon as the chief city was evacuated in 1778, and in New York reached its height soon after the British took ship from the chief city in 1783. The reaction also occurred first in Pennsylvania, where Dickinson, with other mild leaders, gained control of the State in the fall of 1782. It was not till the beginning of 1784 in New York that the champion of moderation, Hamilton, fully opened his campaign. In both States the party chiefly responsible for Tory-baiting, the Constitutionalists in Pennsylvania and the Clintonians in New York, furnished most of the recruits for the party which opposed strengthening the government of the Confederation. In both, the fight for a stronger union had been well begun by 1785.


I. THE ACTIVE WAR PERIOD IN NEW YORK

The roster of New York's second Provincial Congress, which was driven from town to town by the British advance during the summer and fall of 1775, includes all but a few of the names prominent in State politics for the next twenty years. Mention has been made of John Jay, Gouverneur Morris, and Robert R. Livingston, the youthful trio who wrote almost all the Constitution. There was also George Clinton, who nearly a decade before had begun to champion the patriot cause in the Assembly, and had lately gone to the Continental Congress. John Morin Scott, aristocrat and radical, had

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