The Ninth State: New Hampshire's Formative Years

By Lynn Warren Turner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4

PERSONAL POLITICS

If you are at a loss for quacks and jockies, in the science of government, we can abundantly supply you, and be no losers. —Jeremy Belknap

The decade following the adoption of the constitution of 1784 presents a fascinating picture of political transition in New Hampshire. 1 A small and remote colony, whose participation in imperial government had been minimal and whose internal affairs had been largely in the hands of royal officials, changed into a self-governing commonwealth and an equal participant with the other twelve new states in a federated nation. The adult male possessors of real estate of the value of more than fifty pounds, who were qualified to vote in colonial days, had full control of their town governments, but above that level they elected only a representative to the lower house of the provincial legislature. After 1792 the village voter, who by this time needed only to be a taxpayer, elected representatives to both houses of the state legislature, a member of the governor's council, the governor himself, three congressmen, and five electors of the president and vice-president of the United States. This heady accession to power had a transforming effect upon political folkways.

It was a decade, furthermore, of groping toward political party organization. Colonial government had been dominated by the Wentworth family connection. Opposing factions within the Portsmouth aristocracy had surfaced only rarely. Most of the resistance to the governor and the royal prerogative came from the popularly elected assembly, which generally stood united when it chose to contest such matters as control of the purse. The struggle against parliamentary taxation and the measures of ministerial "oppression" leading to the War for Independence forced men, of course, to choose sides or to eschew politics altogether. Few colonials were completely on the side of the British government; these were quickly deprived of any part in local affairs. Among the "patriots" who took charge of the province and the state under the provincial congresses and the constitutional government of 1776 were some more zealous for independence than others, some who wanted to move faster than others, and some who were more sympathetic toward intercolonial union than others, but none of these differences of degree led to any kind of organized contention.

With independence won, however, major antagonisms that might have been made the basis of political parties came quickly into existence. The

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The Ninth State: New Hampshire's Formative Years
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Ninth State - New Hampshire's Formative Years *
  • Contents *
  • Foreword *
  • Preface *
  • Chapter 1 - Revolutionary New Hampshire *
  • Chapter 2 - Constitution Making *
  • Chapter 3 - Peace and Depression *
  • Chapter 4 - Personal Politics *
  • Chapter 5 - A Fragment of Social History *
  • Chapter 6 - In the Federal Union *
  • Chapter 7 - Constitutional Revision *
  • Chapter 8 - The Rise of Parties *
  • Chapter 9 - Federalists and Republicans *
  • Chapter 10 - Federalist Decline *
  • Chapter 11 - The Old Order Yieldeth *
  • Chapter 12 - Democracy Triumphant *
  • Chapter 13 - Federalist Collapse *
  • Chapter 14 - Blockade and Embargo *
  • Chapter 15 - Drifting Toward War *
  • Chapter 16 - In the War with England *
  • Chapter 17 - The Indian Summer of Federalism *
  • Chapter 18 - Peace Abroad: War at Home *
  • Chapter 19 - Tribulations *
  • Chapter 20 - The Demise of Federalism *
  • Chapter 21 - Reform and Freedom *
  • Appendix - Maps and Explanations *
  • Notes *
  • Index *
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