THE SECOND AMERICAN REVOLUTION
THE Republicans -- in the person of Jefferson -- had fallen just short of ousting Adams from the Presidency in the election of 1796. During the four year interim they had been busy strengthening their organization by constant correspondence, agitation, and pamphleteering. The economic discontent had deepened and widened among those classes to whom the Republican appeal was especially directed -- the farmer and the "proletariat" of the towns. Some of the shippers and merchants, even, had become amenable to their gospel -- notably those whose ships and cargoes had been seized by the British on the high seas.
But these advantages were to a large extent offset by the unacknowledged war with France, to which Revolutionary country the Republicans had somewhat too enthusiastically hitched their wagon. From the offensive they were compelled to pass to the defensive; only Burr had been clever enough to avoid the issue by his stand on armaments.
The Federalists, however, had lost this tactical advantage by their advocacy and passage of the unpopular Alien and Sedition Acts. The Republicans quickly seized upon the issue that had been thus thrust into their hands. They raised lusty cries about the freedom of the press, the rights of personal liberty. They inveighed against the aristocrats and the moneyed classes who held the poor farmer in subjection. For the moment, the issue of France versus England was considerably soft-pedaled.
The Federalists, on the other hand, rallied their stalwarts -- the holders of public securities, the investors in bank and industrial stocks, the large shipowners and manufacturers, the New England clergy. A campaign of unprecedented bitterness and hate was in the making. A war between alien nations could not have been attended with more vicious propaganda, with greater outbursts of passion. Federalist and Republican avoided each other in the street or at private gatherings; to the Republican, the Federalist was a monarchist, a swollen creature of money-bags not unlike the caricatured Wall Street banker of later years; to