The Counter-Revolution in Pennsylvania, 1776-1790

By Robert L. Brunhouse | Go to book overview

V
CONSERVATIVES RIDE TO POWER (1782-1784)

THE PERIOD from 1782 to 1784 marked the rise of the conservatives to a place of influence and power which they had not enjoyed since the Constitution of 1776 had gone into effect. The return of John Dickinson to Pennsylvania political life in the role of President of Council indicated how far the pendulum had swung away from the rampant Radicalism of 1779. Although the Republicans had control of the assembly from 1782 to 1784, they effected no major changes in the form or organization of the government. For them the period was essentially one of preparation. From 1780 to 1782 they had discovered themselves; from 1782 to 1784 they consolidated their forces.


THE ELECTION OF 1782 AND ITS SEQUEL

In any election campaign the classical strategy of the minority is to attack the past record of the party in power. The election of 1782 was no exception in this regard, for the Constitutionalists laid a long list of sins at the door of their opponents. If taxes had been too heavy and numerous sources of public income were untapped, why did the Republicans saddle the State with a debt of six hundred thousand pounds specie at a rate of six per cent interest? Robert Morris had been given control of the new emission of paper money but it was an open secret that he had speculated with it. Ignoring the fact that the peace-time revenue of the State was only fifty thousand pounds, the Republicans had insisted on levying the federal quota of over eight times that sum. Other states had cut down the congressional requisition to fit the peoples' pockets. For fear of losing votes among frontier members of the assembly, the eastern Republicans did not raise the question of tax arrearages because those arrearages were heaviest in the back-counties. If the Bank were a necessary evil, there was no reason why it should be a monopoly controlled by "doubtful political characters." The Republicans had squandered time and money on the disputed Philadelphia County election and came to no decisive conclusion. "These are your œconomists of the public time, your guardians of public

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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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