The Ninth State: New Hampshire's Formative Years

By Lynn Warren Turner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12

DEMOCRACY TRIUMPHANT

Themistocles, when desired at a feast to touch a lute, said he could not fiddle, but he knew how to make a small town a great city. Mr. Jefferson can fiddle ... but he cannot make a number of small states a great nation. —Jeremiah Smith

During the first five years of the nineteenth century, New Hampshire underwent a political revolution. 1 The Republican forces, which had been in full and ignominious retreat in 1799, suddenly counterattacked and, one after another, captured all of their enemies' strongholds. After John Langdon's return to New Hampshire the battle took on new vigor, with an occasional Federalist rally, but with a Republican boldness that assured ultimate success. Finally, in 1805, Jefferson's followers raised their triumphant banner over the highest battlement.

The president's "destruction" of the internal revenue system, the army, the navy and the new judiciary may actually have raised, in the mind of the average voter, a slight degree of that apprehension which disoriented the Federalist Cassandras. The Republicans lost ground in New Hampshire in 1803. Langdon had assured Jefferson that the Federalists "sicken at the sight of our prosperity" and had promised great things, but his time was not yet come. 2 Gilman gained more new votes than did Langdon and was reelected by a greater majority than in 1802. 3 Both branches of the legislature remained in the hands of the Federalists, who determined upon a short and innocuous session in June. This Republican setback followed a disastrous fire that swept through Portsmouth one night in December 1802, consuming 114 buildings and causing damage estimated at $200,000. 4 With macabre humor, Jeremiah Smith ascribed the tragedy to the vengeance of a righteous God upon the Sodom of Jacobinism, but the effect of his joke was spoiled by the fact that the fire broke out early on a Sabbath morning in the New Hampshire Bank building. 5 At any rate, the Republican Congress in Washington sympathized with the sufferers and appropriated funds for their relief.

In spite of this generosity, Federalists viewed every act of the national government with gloomy suspicion. William Plumer, the new senator, though charmed by President Jefferson's gracious hospitality, declared that "almost every new measure he recommends, recalls to my view Ezekiel's vision, & the declaration made to him by the angel—Turn, & thou shall behold yet greater abominations." 6 High on the list of these

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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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