The American Party Battle: Election Campaign Pamphlets, 1828-1876

By Watson, Harry L. | The Journal of Southern History, May 2001 | Go to article overview

The American Party Battle: Election Campaign Pamphlets, 1828-1876


Watson, Harry L., The Journal of Southern History


The American Party Battle: Election Campaign Pamphlets, 1828-1876. Volume 1, 1828-1856. Volume 2, 1854-1876. Edited and with an introduction by Joel H. Silbey. (Cambridge, Mass., and London: Harvard University Press, 1999. Pp. xxvi, 284. Paper, $16.95, ISBN 0-674-02645-4; cloth, $39.95, ISBN 0-674-02642-X; Pp. xxvi, 272. Paper, $16.95, ISBN 0-674-02646-2; cloth, $39.95, ISBN 0-674-02643-8.)

Half a century ago, "claptrap" was the most popular academic word for American political rhetoric of the Jacksonian era. Scholars agreed that, beneath blasts of scorching invective Whigs and Democrats traded on the stump, they shared the trimming values of spoilsmen and men on the make who used empty insults for theatrical effect and electoral success for personal advancement. In the specific context of southern history Charles S. Sydnor summed up the prevailing views in the following often-quoted sentence: "party conflict south of the Potomac, from nullification to the late 1840s, had the hollow sound of a stage duel with tin swords" (The Development of Southern Sectionalism, 1819-1848 [Baton Rouge, 1948], p. 316). Contemporary specialists--trained by intellectual and cultural historians to take rhetoric seriously even, or especially, when it seems at its most hackneyed--are likely to read party rhetoric differently. Scholars of nineteenth-century politics now point to antebellum cliches to demonstrate the survival of classical republicanism in a supposedly liberal world and to tease out clashing world views from seemingly mundane party squabbles over tariffs, banks, and canals. Historians who concern themselves with the thoughts and passions of nineteenth-century white men see deep-rooted and abiding conflict where scholars once saw nothing but drab consensus. Joel H. Silbey has done an excellent job of collecting raw materials to document a sophisticated understanding of both consensus and conflict.

Political history, ironically, was riding high when scholars dismissed partisan rhetoric as meaningless. Books, articles, and dissertations poured forth on the most obscure party hacks, and graduate students followed the cut-and-thrust of debates between Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. and the consensus school as if the outcome really mattered. Today, just as specialists have decided that something was really at stake between the Democrats and the Whigs, the interest in politics has ebbed in American culture: politicians and the historians who study politicians both struggle to find an audience. Without actually saying so Silbey makes the case in this sampler of partisan rhetoric that the civic discourse of nineteenth-century culture, and the white male voters who upheld it, deserve our sustained attention.

The two volumes in The American Party Battle: Election Campaign Pamphlets, 1828-1876 share a common introduction. Each volume collects partisan campaign pamphlets arranged chronologically to cover the antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction eras. Silbey combed the archives to obtain representative samples of political argumentation by Jacksonians, Anti-Masons, Democrats, Whigs, Free-Soilers, Know Nothings, National Republicans, secessionists, and Republicans. The coverage is thorough, with a couple of minor exceptions. North and South are well represented, for example, but only a single selection (from Illinois) comes from the West. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The American Party Battle: Election Campaign Pamphlets, 1828-1876
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.