SIGNS OF A RISING REPUBLICANISM
WHEN MIFFLIN was returned to the gubernatorial chair in 1796, his election was not the result of any campaign or contest. It was reinstatement by acclamation. For when the politicians learned in January that he would "stand the pole for governor again," no competitor had a chance.1 He was nominated all over the State with almost complete unanimity by Federalists and Republicans alike. Faintly and dimly seen in the background were Frederick A. Muhlenberg and Anthony Wayne. The critics of 1793 were no longer vocal against him and his path was virtually unobstructed.
On election day the citizens gave Mifflin a total of 30,020 votes as compared to 1,011 for Muhlenberg and 139 for Wayne. The Governor carried all counties with the greatest of ease, and in four of them -- Bucks, Chester, Northampton and Allegheny -- he got all the tallies polled. The counties of Lancaster, York and Northampton, with their heavy German populations, gave Muhlenberg a grand total of four votes. In 1793, it will be recalled, he had won in York County.2
Although Mifflin's undoubted popularity played an important role in the election, it would seem that an even more significant factor was chiefly contributive to his overwhelming success. That was the factor of suitability. He was considered unobjectionable by both the Federalists and Republicans at a time when the relative strength of the two major factions was gradually approaching equilibrium. Neither could risk the nomination of a decisive and frankly partisan candidate when the political balance was so delicate.3 The reality of this political counterpoise was to be amply illustrated in the legislative and presidential elections.
The Pennsylvania Congressional representation elected to the Fifth Congress was almost equally divided between the two major factions. The Republicans and the districts they represented are as follows: David Bard ( Bedford-Franklin-Huntingdon), William Findley (Westmoreland-Fayette), Albert Gallatin ( Washington-Greene-Allegheny), Andrew Gregg (Cumberland-Mifflin), Blair McClenachan ( Philadelphia