Justice Joseph Story and the Rise of the Supreme Court

By Gerald T. Dunne | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVII
An Election at Forty-one

OLD INSTITUTIONS, NEW APPREHENSIONS

The many currents of change which had shaken the country during the Missouri controversy were reflected in Story's Massachusetts in a growing dissatisfaction with the state constitution of 1780. Considered a landmark of its time, when church, college, and commonwealth still merged in an almost seamless polity, the constitution was increasingly criticized in an age of economic change, religious dissent, and social unrest. A proprosal for organic revision accordingly received an overwhelming passage at the polls. In the selection of convention delegates from Salem, Story led one party ticket and ran second on the other, and a local paper reporting the results indicated the changing times with a new name for the Republican Party: of those who were chosen, it said, "five are Democrats and four Federalists. We hope other towns have set a like good example of harmony and freedom from party spirit."1 It did not occur to the editor to comment as to the meaninglessness of the old party divisions, underscored on a nationwide scale when the country which had been almost torn asunder in the Missouri controversy returned James Monroe to the Presidency in an electoral vote only one short of unanimity.

____________________
1
Salem Gazette, quoted in Boston Columbian Centinel, Oct. 18, 1820.

-203-

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