The American States during and after the Revolution, 1775-1789

By Allan Nevins | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT: THE UPPER SOUTH

THE two upper States of the South were on the whole much better governed than the three lower. This was due in part to the fact that since Maryland and Virginia suffered less from the war than the Carolinas and Georgia, their recovery was simpler, and the temptation to deal harshly with their former enemies weaker. They had also an advantage in leadership, for they found abler men than either North Carolina or Georgia, while the superior character of the population, besides accounting for much of the better leadership, had much general influence upon the government. Annapolis was the wealthiest town of its size in America, and in the coastal parts of Maryland, divided for the most part into great plantations like those of Virginia, a considerable number of families gave their sons not only education and leisure, but a tradition of public service. The Virginia Tidewater boasted an aristocracy, rich, conservative, and well tinctured by culture, that with the lawyers of the inland country gave poise and foresight to the State's administration. Poise was just what was lacking in North Carolina during most of the period from 1776 to 1789; it was shockingly absent in Georgia throughout the Revolution; and it failed in South Carolina twice after peace. In Maryland the peculiarities of the Constitution went far towards assuring it.


I. POLITICAL HISTORY OF MARYLAND

Indeed, Maryland's political history was set apart by the consistency with which House and Senate clashed upon important questions. It was long a question with some whether the frame of government was not the worse for the care with which the two houses had been balanced against each other.1 Had not mobility been too much sacrificed? When the Constitution was proclaimed, its provision for the indirect election of the Senate struck many as bizarre,

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1
B. W. Bond, "State Govt. in Md., 1777-81" (Johns Hopkins Studies, Series XXIII, Nos. 3 and 4.)

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