The Old Dominion and the New Nation, 1788-1801

The Old Dominion and the New Nation, 1788-1801

The Old Dominion and the New Nation, 1788-1801

The Old Dominion and the New Nation, 1788-1801

Excerpt

I began this project hoping to trace the growth of the Republican and Federalist parties in Virginia. The finished product, however, is only in part a study of the development of the party system, for party machinery and partisan rhetoric constituted but one aspect of political life in the Old Dominion during the last decade of the eighteenth century. Coexisting with the new system of party politics was the old, oligarchic system--vividly described, but romanticized by Charles Sydnor in his small classic, Gentlemen Freeholders--based on wealth, influence, and social prestige. Although the techniques of party organization and mass voter participation seem hardly compatible with the closed system usually associated with oligarchic control, the two systems rarely came into conflict. The men who ruled Virginia--the wealthy planters and lawyers who dominated the county courts, the members of the legislature, and the handful of men who served in the national government--discovered ways to use the outward mechanisms of the new, partisan mode of politics while at the same time preserving traditional patterns of elite-dominated, deferential politics.

I hope therefore to tell two stories. On one level I will trace the emergence and development of Republican and Federalist party organizations in Virginia. It is here that the reader will find the details of the Virginia Antifederalists' continuing hostility to the federal Constitution, of James Madison's switch from the Federalist to the emerging Republican party, of Madison's and Jefferson's attempts to coordinate Republican opposition to Federalist foreign policy, and finally, of the Republicans' successful campaign in 1800 to replace . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.