The Ninth State: New Hampshire's Formative Years

By Lynn Warren Turner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 15

DRIFTING TOWARD WAR

O Governor, don't be afraid! It doesn't take much of a man to govern New Hampshire. —Anonymous

The repeal of the Embargo Act erased the problems of foreign relations from the consciousness of the average New Hampshire citizen and restored his faith in the republic. 1 Commerce revived under the Non‐ Intercourse Act, and prosperity returned in sufficient degree to keep the Yankee farmer devoted to his own affairs, unless he took too seriously the dreary pessimism of the Federalist press. The nation drifted toward war but in such a tortured fashion that the man on the farm could hardly follow its course. Distant matters disturbed the tenor of New Hampshire politics only fitfully until a presidential election and the outbreak of war concurred in 1812.

This situation was a misfortune for Governor Jeremiah Smith. He had been elected on the already dead issue of the embargo, and the resumption of commerce under the Non-Intercourse Act deprived his party of its war cry even before he took office in June. Smith's leadership was intellectual and symbolic rather than political; as a judicial officer, he had built up no great personal following. Most trying of his difficulties was to be the fact that three of his five councillors were Republicans; he could not make a single appointment without the concurrence of at least one of those opponents. Smith's year in the state's highest office proved to be the most frustrating in the life of the eminent jurist.

Faced with the necessity of giving up offices in which they had acquired an almost proprietary interest, Langdon and his followers did all they could to embarrass their dispossessors. The Republican governor and his council spent their last hours in Concord filling up vacant posts with deserving Republicans. The midnight appointments of John Adams were models of propriety compared with this hasty entrenchment against the incoming administration. In December the Republican legislature had passed a resolution authorizing the executive to fill vacancies occasioned by officers who had reached the constitutional age of retirement, whether or not they had resigned. 2 Acting under this resolution, Langdon removed two senescent sheriffs and Judge Wingate of the superior court without troubling to obtain legal proof that they were overage. 3 Then, even before he had notified the ousted sheriffs of their removal, he appointed two members of his council, Benjamin Pierce and William Tarle

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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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