The Dorr War: Republicanism on Trial, 1831-1861

By George M. Dennison | Go to book overview

6.
THE CONGRESS

The next tribunal & the only proper & constitutional one is theU.S. Congress.

Until the 1830s, Americans worked out their ideological conflicts through the political process. After the transformations of the late Federalist period and the "revolution of 1800," most understood that success in the political arena carried with it the power to decide all questions in the United States.1 The Jeffersonians and their Jacksonian heirs joined traditional ideas about popular control of government with the novel achievement of a party system and thereby circumscribed the freedom of action of both voters and officeholders. Although most Americans failed to perceive the actual relationships, a rising number grew restless under the lines of control imposed by machine politics.2 In the wave of Jacksonian Democracy at the opening of the thirties, Americans everywhere began to assert their right to participate in government and to decide for themselves who should rule. This political phenomenon very likely reflected a burgeoning awareness that the old America was rapidly disappearing with the advances of industrialism and the growth of population -- developments that tended to reduce the availability of opportunities for men to better themselves. Out of the awareness of these changes grew the popular demand for a politics capable of reopening the roads to success and facilitating the release of individual, creative energy.3

Since the decisions of Congress came more and more to affect the extent of economic and political opportunity, control of Congress became increasingly important. The disputes of the

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The Dorr War: Republicanism on Trial, 1831-1861
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • Prologue - THE BARRICADES 1
  • Part I - THE TRIAL 9
  • 2 - REFORM 32
  • 3 - PEACEABLE REVOLUTION 60
  • 4 - SUPPRESSION 84
  • Part II- THE TESTING 112
  • 6 - THE CONGRESS 126
  • 7 - THE JUDICIARY 141
  • 8 - THE SUPREME COURT 169
  • Epilogue - THE "PRECEDENT OF 1842" 193
  • Notes 207
  • BIBLIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY 235
  • Index 245
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