The Counter-Revolution in Pennsylvania, 1776-1790

By Robert L. Brunhouse | Go to book overview

IV
THE CONSERVATIVES EMERGE (1780-1782)

THE TASK of administering the government of the State was too much for the Radical revolutionary faction which had held the reins of leadership for four years. The leaders had exhausted their ingenuity and whatever ability they possessed to solve the stupendous puzzle of drawing forth the resources of the State to carry on the war. They had nothing new to dangle before the people. In a sense their program had been carried out. They had set up a democratic Constitution, had dispossessed the Penns of their control over the State, had driven the conservatives from the University, had waged their fight against Arnold, and had proscribed tories. The popular committees of the summer of 1779 reflected no glory on the Radical regime; the inability to collect taxes and to keep down high prices did not enhance their popularity. Then came the beginning of 1780 when the army was in desperate straits. But it was the conservative merchants who came to the rescue after the State had failed. Weary of war with its high taxes, seizure of property, inflation of money, and demands for men, the people tired of an administration which could promise no relief from the hardships.


THE POLITICAL REVOLT OF OCTOBER, 1780

No great issues were debated as a preliminary to the election in October. Two incidents occurred which could have had an adverse effect on Republican political fortunes. The first was news of Arnold's treason which reached Philadelphia on September 27. The Radicals were vindicated in their earlier prosecution of this man; in triumph they staged a parade vilifying Arnold and his deed. Unable to lay hands on the traitor, the Radical Council seized David Franks, William Hamilton, James Seagroves, William Constable, and Major David Solebury Franks, all of whom were suspected of having connections with Arnold or with the British. They were eventually released, under varying conditions, except David Franks and William Hamilton who were ordered out of the State. Early in October Reed issued a proclamation declaring ten persons traitors, with Arnold heading the list, for having joined the British. Just how far Mrs. Arnold had been involved in the designs of her husband could not be learned conclusively, but opinion branded her as an accom-

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The Counter-Revolution in Pennsylvania, 1776-1790
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Foreword iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • I - The Background 1
  • II - The Rise of the Radicals (1776-1778) 18
  • III - Triumph of Radicalism (1778-1780) 53
  • IV - The Conservatives Emerge (1780-1782) 88
  • V - Conservatives Ride to Power (1782-1784) 121
  • VI - Counter-Revolution Halted (1783-1786) 156
  • VII - Triumph of the Counter-Revolution (1786-1790) 191
  • Notes 229
  • Abbreviations 231
  • Bibliography 299
  • Appendix I - Maps 319
  • Appendix II - Tabulation of Votes 327
  • Notes 345
  • Index 347
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