Albert Gallatin: Jeffersonian Financier and Diplomat

By Raymond Walters | Go to book overview
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10. The Jeffersonian Triumph
1799=1801

"The times of agitation" soon passed, and with them Gallatin's thoughts of retirement. The passage of the Alien and Sedition laws proved to be the high tide of the Federalists. They had overreached themselves; the tide, quickened by the shift of affairs overseas, moved relentlessly against them. For Gallatin and the Democratic-Republicans the second biennium of the Adams Administration was marked by many pleasant little triumphs and constantly brightening prospects.

The new turn was revealed clearly in the Pennsylvania elections of 1799. The Federalists attempted to win the normally Democratic-Republican West by nominating for governor a westerner, Senator James Ross; but the enterprise of the Jeffersonians--Gallatin spent a particularly busy summer while at home, speaking, shaking hands, preparing and distributing handbills--made Ross's majority in the area a narrow one. The verdict was emphatic east of the mountains. The Pennsylvania Germans-- traditionally Federalist--had resisted government troops sent earlier in the year to enforce the Federalist tax on houses; and they vented their feeling by voting for Thomas McKean, the Democratic-Republican gubernatorial candidate. The Jeffersonians captured the state government handily.1

Brighter prospects for the party became even more evident to Gallatin in November, when he set up his little family in Philadelphia in a small house rented at a price that outraged his frugal nature, but that seemed necessary because he and Hannah were expecting another child.2 No longer would he have to fight the Jeffersonian cause in the House virtually unassisted; Livingston and Nicholas were back, to be joined by a distant connection of Thomas Jefferson, a curious but brilliant youth, beardless and tawny of complexion, piping of voice, tall but wiry, called John Randolph "of Roanoke," after the name of his Virginia estate. Another newcomer in whom Gallatin was to find comfort and support was a relation of Hannah's, Joseph H. Nicholson of Maryland.

The Democratic-Republicans were still not to have it all their own

-119-

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