The Ninth State: New Hampshire's Formative Years

By Lynn Warren Turner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 10

FEDERALIST DECLINE

It is a humiliating circumstance, when a man is conscious he has devoted his time, talents, & money to the public service, & faithfully discharged his duty, to find it difficult to obtain a re-election to an expensive & laborious office. —William Plumer

The newspaper editor who thought that the remarkable unanimity of New Hampshire in 1799 presaged a "new era" in politics was a true prophet. 1 His only error was in assigning to the Federalists, rather than to their opponents, the fruits of this golden age. Though his party then stood at the pinnacle of its five-year climb to success, the succeeding five years were to witness its inexorable descent to a position of apparent hopelessness. Within an even shorter time Federalism was destined to be repudiated by the country at large. It was natural that a four-year lag should occur between the national triumph of the Republicans and their victory in so conservative a state as New Hampshire, but the two reversals were part of the same process. In state as well as nation, Federalist arrogance, over-confidence, abuse of power, and internal dissension were contributing causes to the debacle. Federalist responsibility for heavy taxation, extravagant expenditures, and judicial tyranny, together with Republican promises of democracy, economy, liberty, and peace, affected New Hampshire farmers as surely as it did the backwoodsmen of Kentucky, if more slowly.

Federalists resisted the Republican zeitgeist, but their reign might have been longer if they had fought less strenuously. They were much to blame for their own defeat. During ten years in the saddle the Federalists managed to convince the people of New Hampshire that their continued control of the government would stifle any change toward democracy, deny religious toleration, maintain an expensive administration that favored speculators, and subject them to the total political and financial domination of the Exeter Junto.

Their defiance of France had made the Federalists popular, but the means they adopted to implement that defiance evoked less enthusiasm. "Millions for Defense" proved to be an embarrassing motto after France had backed down and there was nothing left of the glorious dreams of victory but expensive armaments and burdensome taxes. New Hampshire farmers who had signed addresses of commendation to President Adams looked dourly upon his tax collectors. There was some resistance

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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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