Prosperity Solves Many Problems
THE PARTY CONTESTS of the 1780s and the struggle over the Federal Constitution involved substantive economic issues, and because bread-and-butter interests were at stake the conflict was intense. Economic recovery after 1789 muted these tensions, and the national parties that appeared during Washington's first term found new issues to contest (notably in foreign policy) and developed new symbols. The question is, did the parties of the 1790s, descendants of the debtor-creditor conflict, reflect the old economic division? Did the national parties, preoccupied with questions of national policy, represent a debtorcreditor conflict as well?
The answer for the Chesapeake states depends on when. In the early part of the decade, when the contests of the Confederation were still a vivid memory, the parties reflected their interest-group origins. But by the mid 1790s, when the national party system was fully developed, there was little difference between them on matters of economic principle. Any generalization is hazardous, however, because there were few roll calls involving economic interests,