A Revolution of 1800 After All: 
The Political Culture of the Earlier Early Republic and the Origins of American Democracy

Jeffrey L. Pasley
University of Missouri-Columbia


"Revolution of 1800" Conference
Charlottesville, VA

December 2, 2000


DRAFT: Please do not cite or quote without permission of the author.

NOTE TO READERS: This document represents an early draft of this essay. I ask the readers' forbearance on two points: One, there are some sections making historiographic and synthetic points that, in my view, need to be better documented. Two, some of the voting data presented in the text and in the appendix are preliminary and subject to some additions and rechecking.

1. 1800 as a Revolution in Political Culture

The "Revolution of 1800" appears to be one of the more heavily doubted historical labels in American historiography. Jefferson himself did not develop it for decades after the putative event, and since then academic historians have had relatively little to say in favor of the term or concept. Indeed, one might even argue that the American historical profession was founded on the denial of this particular revolution. In his greatest work as an historian, Henry Adams patronized the idea of a revolutionary change as an old man's nostalgic yarn, a "claim which Jefferson . . . loved to put forward" in his dotage. Adams argued that within a year of his election Jefferson and his allies had reached "the limit of their supposed revolutionary projects," which in the domestic arena really amounted only to budget and tax cuts in any case. After that, Adams argued, the Republicans rapidly moved back "toward Federalist practices," and, once President Jefferson began using the powers of his office to conduct foreign policy, "it was hard to see how any President could be more Federalist than Jefferson himself." (1)

With the exception of a few enthusiasts, most later historians have followed Adams in concluding, as Lance Banning wrote in 1975, "that there was no 'revolution of 1800' in any common use of the term." For Adams, Banning, and many others, the yardstick for measuring the revolutionary impact of 1800 has been Jefferson's performance in office. "The Jeffersonian ascendancy brought far too little change," wrote Banning, and even so ardent a Jeffersonian as Dumas Malone basically agreed. The new president "sounded like no revolutionary," Malone commented on Jefferson's First Inaugural Address. "Indeed, he hardly sounded like a reformer." (2)

These arguments are difficult to dispute as they relate to national policy and congressional action. Henry Adams was quite devastating as to the revolutionary steps that might have been taken, but were not, such as the idea of a declaratory act on the unconstitutionality of Alien and Sedition Acts. Caution and sober second or third thoughts ruled the day, and even accounts of Jeffersonian politics more detailed than what Henry Adams provided, such as Richard E. Ellis's study of Jeffersonian divisions over the judiciary, have come to the conclusion that a distinctly unrevolutionary spirit won out on most policy issues, and the more enduring constitutional ones as well. (3)

Strong as it seems, accepting this historiographic consensus requires us to commit a disturbing intellectual act: we must throw out much of the eyewitness testimony in the case. Though the precise term "revolution of 1800" was coined later, there is abundant evidence that people who lived through the election of 1800 thought something momentous had just occurred. The candidate himself certainly did. Writing two weeks after taking office, Jefferson explained to Joseph Priestley that they had just witnessed a literally epochal historical event: "We can no longer say that there is nothing new under the sun." (4) Even contemporary commentators who were not the candidate waxed millennial about the meaning of his accession to the presidency. In a sermon delivered a few weeks after Jefferson took office, Baptist preacher John Leland of Cheshire, Massachusetts, saw the hand of God in the election results: "Heaven above looked down, and awakened the American genius, which has arisen, like a lion, from the swelling of the Jordon [sic] , and roared like thunder in the states, 'we will be free; we will rule ourselves.'" The next year Leland told a Fourth of July audience that the "late change has been as radical in its tendency, as that which took place in 1776," prefiguring Jefferson's phraseology so many years later. (5) In between these two speeches, Leland organized the creation and delivery of the famous "mammoth" Cheshire cheese in tribute to the new president, an act of great hilarity to Federalist wags but one which also bespoke a depth of feeling for Jefferson among ordinary people that no other American politician but George Washington had thus far inspired, and that few partisan leaders ever would during their lifetimes. (6)

Others less religiously inclined nevertheless concurred with Leland as to the momentousness of Jefferson's election. The Baltimore American declared that no event "more completely evinces the progress of reason" than Jefferson's election. The people of the United States had faced a critical moment, and in their choice had recurred "to those first principles of social justice, which can alone sustain and perpetuate the blessings of national liberty." (7) In this view, 1800 amounted to nothing less than a second (or third) founding, a sentiment that was echoed in the lyrics of "The People's Friend," one of several songs that were written to celebrate Jefferson's victory: "Now ent'ring on th'auspicious morn/ in which a people's hopes are born/what joy o'ersprads [sic] the land." (8) The greatest hit to come out of the celebrations, "Jefferson and Liberty," took a decidedly post-revolutionary tone. It vividly painted the trials that the Republicans believed the country had just been through, in terms that suggested the deaths throes of an ancien regime:

THE gloomy night before us flies,

The reign of terror now is o'er;

Its gags, inquisitors, and spies,

Its herds of harpies are no more!

Rejoice! Columbia's Sons, rejoice!

To tyrants never bend the knee,

But join with heart and soul and voice,

For Jefferson and Liberty. . . .

No lordling here, with gorging jaws

Shall wring from industry the food;

Nor fiery bigot's holy laws

Lay waste our fields and streets in blood!

At the same time, "Jefferson and Liberty" declared that a new era of freedom was beginning.

Hail! Long expected, glorious day!

Illustrious, Memorable morn!

That Freedom's Fabric from decay,

Rebuilds -- for millions yet unborn.

Since the song was originally published in the Philadelphia Aurora, edited by the exiled Irish radical William Duane, it is no surprise that its interpretation of the election's meaning especially reflected the hope and feelings of the transatlantic radicals who had both inspired and borne the brunt of Federalist repression and harassment during the late 1790s:

Here strangers from a thousand shores

Compell'd by tyranny to roam,

Shall find amidst abundant stores,

A nobler and happier home.

"Jefferson and Liberty" expressed both the jubilation and determination of people who had seen many would-be revolutions fail, and now found themselves in the thick of one that seemed to be triumphing. (9)

Perceptions of revolution during and after 1800 were not limited to the victorious Republicans. John Adams ridiculed Jefferson's letter to Priestley when he read it in 1813, establishing a long family tradition of scoffing at Jefferson's claimed revolution that he passed down to his great-grandson the historian. Yet the Adamses were conveniently forgetting what Federalists themselves had thought and said back at the turn of the 19th century. (10) Having long believed that the Republicans were Jacobin conspirators seeking a French-style revolution in the United States, Federalists had promulgated the Alien and Sedition Acts in order to stop this revolutionary conspiracy, and when those efforts seemed to be failing after 1798, brought their rhetoric to apocalyptic levels. In 1799, Fisher Ames painted the consequences of a Jefferson victory as "the abasement of all that is venerable . . . the transmutation of all that is established." Some of Ames's compatriots, including the Rev. Jedidiah Morse, had them in league with the infamous Bavarian Illuminati. (11)

Such statements were no mere scare tactics arising from a bitter political campaign; similar talk continued after 1800, and even intensified a bit. Judge Alexander Addison, presiding in the Republican stronghold of Washington County, Pennsylvania, gave and published a blood-curdling grand jury charge (the last of a long series of such publications) in December 1800, a few weeks after Albert Gallatin had won reelection to Congress with 80 per cent of the vote in his county. Entitled "The Rise and Progress of Revolution," Addison's charge linked to the domestic Republicans to the grand revolutionary conspiracy of the Illuminati and the French Jacobins. The conspiracy's aim was to turn "the world upside down," to upend the "order of Providence" that set some above others in society. The American arm of this revolutionary plot was "daily endeavor[ing]," and had almost succeeded, in rendering "odious all men distinguished among others, for their wealth, wisdom, or their learning," and "mak[ing] society a jumble of discordant qualities, without order or station; and hold[ing] up as objects of hatred and envy, all who subsist without manual labor." Less histrionically stated, some might call this democratization, but for Addison, it was nothing less than a revolution. (12)

In New England, where Federalists were circling the wagons in the face of intense Republican efforts to win over the voters of their states after failing in 1800, the hysteria grew almost comically intense. Attempting to rally Connecticut "to resist a foe, just entering the gates of your fortress," Theodore Dwight outlined "the consummation of Democratic blessedness" that awaited the Land of Steady Habits if it too succumbed to the revolutionary legions who had already overrun most of Europe and in the recent election "secured . . . dominion over a large portion of these United States." Unless Connecticut made a stand, her people faced the literally hellish prospect of "a country governed by blockheads, and knaves; the ties of marriage . . . destroyed; our wives, and our daughters . . . thrown into the stews; our children . . . forgotten . . . a world full of ignorance, impurity, and guilt; without justice, without science, without affection . . . without worship, without a prayer, without a God!" (13) The wives and children of Connecticut survived Jeffersonian rule, of course, and many Federalists calmed down over the years, while some like the Adamses gloated that the feared revolutionary projects had failed. Yet in later decades of the 19th century, many critics of American culture -- Merrill Peterson calls them "conservatives" -- continued to blame Jefferson and 1800 for many social and political changes that they disliked. Written in 1839, the German traveler Francis J. Grund's Aristocracy in America includes a scene in the bar of an exclusive New York hotel in which a large company of gentlemen agree that the "god-less father of democracy . . . Jefferson has ruined our country!" (14)

The contradiction between the scholarly consensus and the contemporary beliefs regarding the election of 1800 is very striking, but both may be correct in certain ways. Focus on Jefferson's administration, and few revolutionary developments appear. It is worth noting, however, that Jefferson's administration is hardly ever where the affirmers of the Revolution of 1800 have focused, including Jefferson himself. Nor have many besides histrionic Federalists (and their descendants) argued for some kind of substantive revolution within American society just after 1800. Rather than the putative content of the revolution, affirmers have emphasized the changes it wrought on what later generations would call American political culture.

Simply put, 1800 marks the point at which the republican constitutional system envisioned by the framers of the constitution, with the popular will filtered through various layers of government and the various competing interests carefully checked so that no individual faction or party could control the national government, became a basically democratic and partisan system. The new system, far from filtering the popular will or preventing national coalitions or political competition, came to be framed around and even dependent upon those forces. Space will not permit a full canvass of this question here, but at the most basic level it seems certain that numerous features of American politics and government that are now regarded as essential - political parties, competitive elections where more than personal rivalries are at stake, peaceful transfers of power, even (in a broad sense) freedom of speech and the press for partisan opponents of the government (15) - date their establishment to the election of 1800. This was a system that the framers of the Constitution had not wanted or expected, and no nation on earth had ever tried. Given a dry run in 1796 but not put to the ultimate test until1800, the new system forced the immediate revision of the constitution to partially accommodate democracy and partisanship, and became ever more firmly entrenched despite later efforts (after the War of 1812, especially) to phase it out.

Merrill Peterson labels an interpretation much like this "the typical view" of Jacksonian era conservatives, many of whom had watched the process unfold. Peterson quotes the journalist and clergyman Calvin Colton, who argued that Jefferson's election marked a decisive, transformative moment in the history of the republic. The Founders had created "a republican Constitution, imposing salutary checks on the popular will," but from 1800 on, "the popular will in the shape of a dynasty of opinion, has habitually triumphed over these provisions. The government has been republican in form, but democratic in fact." (16) While not fully democratic in the broader sense that later populists and radicals would use the term -- the exclusion of nonwhites and women alone took it out of that category -- it was certainly true that American politics and government in the 19th century were overwhelmingly and increasingly driven by popular voting, as even bastions of oligarchy such as South Carolina and formerly independent institutions such as the judiciary and local governments fell to the majority principle. This does not mean that the real interests of the majority, to say nothing of social justice, were necessarily served by this system, but procedurally it was nothing if not democratic.

The view of 1800 as a revolution in American political development more often appears in political science and in popular accounts than in recent historiography, but it is a view that (perhaps ironically) more closely follows the primary sources than the common historians' emphasis on the myth of the Revolution of 1800. (17) If we read Jefferson's infamous letter to Spencer Roane carefully, we can see that he actually did not claim to have revolutionized American society or national policy, and that he was quite aware of his failure to significantly reduce what he regarded as the pernicious power of the federal judiciary. The events of 1800 and 1801, were "as real a revolution in the principles of our government as that of 1776 was in its form," he wrote, but in explaining this statement, Jefferson located much of his revolution's meaning in the means by it was accomplished. It was "not effected indeed by the sword . . . but by the rational and peaceable instrument of reform, the suffrage of the people. The nation declared its will by dismissing functionaries of one principle, and electing those of another, in the two branches, executive and legislative." This was perfectly consonant with his statements to Joseph Priestley back in 1801, when he listed the "mighty wave of public opinion that . . . rolled over" the country and (he believed) deposed the Federalists as high among the new things under the sun that had launched a new chapter in the history of mankind. (18)

Jefferson was probably content with the application of mass public opinion to the selection of the president on this one occasion, but the intensity of effort and feeling that went into Jefferson's election produced more general and durable changes. While we will never know if Americans would have accepted Aaron Burr as their legitimate president (as John Adams believed they would have), we do know that, if Congress had selected Burr or even Adams over Jefferson, it would have been acting both within its rights under, and consistent with the spirit of, the multi-tiered presidential election system created by the framers. Most of the framers expected not only that the electors appointed by the states would be making their own decisions, but also that Congress would be the entity that usually chose the president, from a list set by the electors. According to Jack Rakove, the "prevailing expectation" among the framers "was that the electoral college would only limit, not eliminate, a legislative role in selecting the president." (19)

Contrary to this principle of free choice at the higher levels of the electoral system was the argument, forcefully expressed in the popular political culture of 1800-1801, that Jefferson ought to be president because he was the popular choice of the voters, a general principle that extended to many other offices as well. Reflecting the fearful atmosphere of the Electoral College deadlock period in which the song was published, "Jefferson and Liberty" promised dire retribution to anyone who tried to prevent the people from having their choice:

Let foes to freedom dread the name;

But should they touch the sacred tree,

Twice fifty thousands swords would flame

For Jefferson and liberty. (20)

More typical than threats of violence in the popular culture productions of the Revolution of 1800 were expressions of the hope that power could be wrested from tyrants, not without the 100,000 swords, but instead through electoral politics. "Remember election is liberty's base,/By which noble charter our freedom we cherish," proclaimed yet another song entitled "Jefferson and Liberty." A rewrite of "Hail Columbia" published in the Newark Centinel of Freedom hailed the role of partisanship in ending "terror's reign," urging "trimmers" who had shied away from the party battle to give up their reticence: "Awake ye trimmers hail the throng,/Come and join our side that's strong." (21)

Though many leaders, including some Republicans and even Jefferson, feared overly direct democracy and deplored party spirit, they nonetheless made room for them by quickly framing and ratifying the Twelfth Amendment, which required specific ballots for president and vice president, in time for the next presidential election. Through this constitutional change and the partisan national political culture that forced it, the Electoral College was downgraded from decision-making body to a strange and unpredictable apportionment device, distorting the popular will rather than filtering it intelligently. The ultimate role of Congress in selecting a president was left intact, though it would be extremely rare to invoke it in after years. Indeed, those who used this procedure to deviate from rather than ratify the popular vote did so at their peril, as John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay discovered after the election of 1824.

At least as important as these formal and informal changes in constitutional structure were the changes that the Revolution of 1800 wrought in the areas of voting, campaigning, and other forms of political behavior and culture. The election of the man perceived as "The People's Friend" gave a strong dose of legitimacy to democratic values and procedures, and in some measures brought more democracy in its wake than was actually practiced in 1800, when the presidential electors of all but four states were selected by the state legislatures. Though Jefferson preferred to call his followers "Republicans," many of them were adding the adjective "Democratic" to the name and moving toward the appellation "Democrats" that became general later. In a recent but already classic article and book, Alan Taylor has described a dramatic shift that occurred in the "political personae" that successful leaders projected, portraying the shift as both a cause and a result of the Republican victory. Federalist politicians tended to be men who posed, with varying degrees of persuasiveness, as "'Fathers of the People' -- well-meaning superiors ready to assist their lessers" but not take their bearings from them. This could only work as long as voters were willing to accept the traditional view, prevalent in Great Britain and in colonial British America, that "social, political, and cultural authority should be united in an order of gentlemen" who "combined superior wealth with genteel manners, classical learning, and a reputation for integrity," and thus really deserved to hold power over the rest of the community. In the period around 1800, Taylor shows, such would-be paternalists were successfully challenged by followers of Jefferson who posed, like their leader, as " 'Friends of the People' -- equals rather than superiors." Though often themselves beneficiaries of the new opportunities for wealth, leadership, and social mobility opened up by the American Revolution, the Federalists fell from public grace when they tried to "bring the Revolution to a premature end" in the 1790s, too openly expressing elitist values and too often looking to government power in the form of the Alien and Sedition Acts rather than popular electoral politics in defending themselves from the challenges. (22)

The change in the way that political leaders presented themselves was part of a larger shift in the practical and rhetorical conduct of politics. Campaigning grew more intense in many localities after 1800 than it had been before, and voting became a much more salient activity for politicians and citizens alike. One telling indicator of this increased salience is the fact that post-1800 newspapers were much more likely to publish detailed election returns than their predecessors. Philip J. Lampi, an expert on newspapers at the American Antiquarian Society who has been collecting early American electoral data for the past 40 years, notes that before 1800, newspapers gave election returns rarely, often reporting only the names of the winners and perhaps their margin of victory or some gross vote totals. After 1800, in most localities, it became common for the newspapers, even those that were not strongly partisan, to print detailed tables of election results carefully broken down by candidate, county, and township. (23)

Along with the more intense focus on voting went significant changes in the availability of voting rights and the scope and importance of the offices that voters were allowed to fill. The conventional discussion of democratization in many American history textbooks and surveys often includes a graphic on one of the two most important examples of this trend, the rise of universal white male suffrage and the shift in the method of choosing presidential electors from state legislatures to popular voting. Invariably placed in the chapter on the Jacksonian era, the accompanying text rarely if ever explains that the bulk of the changes described in these graphics took place not during Andrew Jackson's political career, but much earlier, in the aftermath of 1800. Chilton Williamson's classic work on suffrage shows that reform of the typical property requirement became a major issue in many states in the first decades of the 19th century. While actual suffrage expansion occurred piecemeal, and some strongly Jeffersonian states (such as Virginia) lagged behind the trend, a burst of suffrage reform activity began after 1800 that soon made economic restrictions on voting a relative rarity. (24)

In 1800, a majority of states (nine of sixteen) still had property qualifications, and four of the states without property qualifications limited voting to taxpayers. By 1830, only one-third of the states still had property qualifications on the books, and many of them significantly diluted the restriction by providing alternative means of qualifying to vote, such as paying taxes or serving in the militia. The vast majority of these changes were made before 1821. Maryland, for instance, dropped its property requirement in 1801, probably because propertyless Baltimore artisans and laborers were the mainstays of the Republican party in the state. For similar reasons, New York allowed renters to vote in 1804. New Jersey included taxpayers in 1807.

Expansion of the suffrage is often dismissed as an automatic by-product of westward expansion, because of the lack of property qualifications in the new state constitutions. In fact, this broadening of the suffrage in the West was a change of policy brought in by Jefferson and his supporters. The one western state created during the period of Federalist ascendancy in the late 1790s (Tennessee) actually did have a property requirement, as did the Northwest Territory. The Republican-dominated congresses after 1800 eliminated the property requirement in the existing territories and set up very broad suffrage provisions (requiring taxpaying, militia service, a term of residency, or even less) in the new territories they organized. Hence none of the eight states admitted to the union under Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe had property requirements, and most had unrestricted white male suffrage. (25)

The switch to selecting presidential electors by popular vote is even more closely and directly associated with the legacy of Jefferson's election. In 1800, legislatures chose presidential electors in twelve of the sixteen states. Pennsylvania had used popular voting and been carried by Jefferson previously, but fearful Federalists in the state senate blocked any kind of state presidential election in 1800 rather then see all the state's electoral votes go to Jefferson. By the very next presidential election, in 1804, Pennsylvania and three other states had switched to popular voting, and though there were many changes from election to election after that, legislative appointment of electors was never again the predominant method. By 1824, the ratio was down to six of twenty-four states, leaving only a mop-up operation for the supposed Age of the Common Man. (26)

Of course, none of this matters much unless we can see that there was some discernable effect on the voters who were gaining all this new attention and power, and the historiography on this question is tortured. No such effect jumps out from most synthetic accounts of the early 19th century, yet if one goes back far enough in the literature, there is some evidence for a dramatic effect. Statistics gathered by J.R. Pole and Richard P. McCormick in the 1950s and 1960s seemed to indicate there was a strong effect, with voter participation approaching 70 per cent of adult white males during the campaigns of 1799 and 1800 in heavily politicized states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and trending up elsewhere in an "extraordinary surge" over the period 1800-1816. This was especially notable in New England, where Federalist-Republican competition was particularly bitter and intense during those years. According to the numbers generated by McCormick and Pole, it was not until 1840 or so that the better-organized parties of the Jacksonian era managed to match that record. (27)

Unfortunately for the reputation of the Revolution of 1800, the McCormick-Pole statistics had little impact on the larger field of American political history, which was not only being challenged by social and other new histories from the 1960s on, but also strongly influenced by two countervailing trends that both tended to marginalize or dismiss early party politics. One was the rise of the "republican synthesis," whose exponents focused on political thought over practical politics and emphasized the continuing influence of 18th-century (and older) values. Since one of the strongest aspects of republicanism as it was sketched was a commitment to disinterested, patriotic leadership over political partisanship, organization, and competition, the republican synthesis naturally downplayed the importance of party politics in the era and became rather censorious of scholars who still assumed the existence of a "first party system." In its day, this was a useful corrective to scholarship that was often rather anachronistic in its assumptions about how politics operated in the Early Republic, exaggerating the parties' levels of stability, organization, and acceptance. At the same time, the republican synthesis often seemed to dovetail with an older, more traditional, but always healthy stream of scholarship that depicted the era almost wholly in terms of the beliefs and actions of the Founders. Thus, as "history from the bottom up" was rising in other areas of scholarship, early American political history became a kind of refuge for history from the top down. (28)

In the same period, political history more generally was coming to be dominated and even defined by the messianic "new political history," which promised to bring new precision to political history through the intensive use of quantification and other social scientific methods. For several related reasons, the new political historians took little interest in, and often tried to minimize the significance of, party politics in the earlier Early Republic. Given their primary emphasis on the social bases of voting, which they usually rendered in terms of religion and ethnicity as opposed to ideology or class, the new political historians were heavily dependent on the availability of extensive electoral and demographic data. Unfortunately, before 1824, no state other than Massachusetts took responsibility for gathering local election returns (though some are available in a few other state archives), so that the type of complete and relatively accessible database that the new political historians used to build their studies simply did not seem to exist for the earlier period. The difficulty involved in amassing a complete set of returns caused the pre-1824 votes to be left out of the Interuniversity Consortium on Political and Social Research's standard dataset, meaning that those years would simply be left out of most quantitative studies. According to Ronald Formisano, the new political historian who has commented on early party politics most extensively and influentially, "the Law of Available Data" left the Federalist-Republican era as the unwanted "stepchild of party history." (29)

The other major thesis to come out of the new political history, besides ethnocultural voting, was a highly influential account of American political development that depicted the last two-thirds of the 19th century as the golden age of American politics. Only in the late 1830s, the new political historians argued, did a full-fledged and truly mass-based party system emerge. Borrowing their model of the mass party from political science, the new political historians sought out the moment when U.S. politics permanently acquired "strong party institutions" possessing stable bases of support in the electorate and corps of members who either served or sought to serve in government. These kinds of permanent, institutionalized parties with strong presences in government and electorate emerged by 1840, the new political historians argued, and not only emerged, but inaugurated a long period of participatory party democracy unmatched before or since in American history. This was the "party period" -- often pointedly contrasted with the apathetic 20th century -- when the populace showed "intense enthusiasm" for partisan politics and deep commitment to their parties. (30)

The primary evidentiary basis for this thesis was what appeared to be the highest rates of voter turnout in American history, routinely in the 60-75 per cent range and occasionally jumping into the 80s. Discussions of voter turnout were usually buttressed with anecdotal accounts of mass meetings, torchlight parades, candidate debates, rabidly partisan newspapers, and other elements of what has been called "spectacular campaigning." All of these activities aimed to influence the array of highly democratic-seeming political institutions and practices that emerged in the period, including remarkably frequent elections that extended to nearly every available office, party organizations that extended from the White House down to the neighborhood level, and the elaborate system of caucuses and conventions through which candidates were nominated. The drama, color, and apparent popularity of this political culture often put the new political historians into an uncharacteristically romantic and celebratory mode. With their organized campaigning and "appeals to the common man," wrote William Gienapp, the mass parties had "democratized" American politics in both structure and ideology. Politics was not only more entertaining than before or after, but also more edifying; the voters were not only more enthusiastic, but better informed about public affairs and more intelligent (or at least more substantively ideological in their voting). All in all, it was a time to warm the cockles of a political historian's heart, when party "politics seem[ed] to enter into everything." (31)

Though now quite standard in many ways, this interpretation has recently come under fire, with several scholars arguing that political parties were not as popular, democratic, or hegemonic during the party period as the new political historians claimed. Certainly the facile equation that the new political historians made between the triumph of highly organized mass parties and democratization is open to challenge, as are the claims of superinformed and ultrarational voters in an era of nascent educational systems, raucous polling places, and intense ballyhoo. Yet even critics of the party period, such as Michael Schudson and Stuart Blumin and Glenn Altschuler, accept the basic plotline of a "politics of assent" giving way in the 1830s to a carnivalesque "mass democracy, the world's first." (32)

The problem with all this for the Revolution of 1800 was the narrative arc that the new political history imposed on the earlier Early Republic. Celebrating or magnifying the accomplishments of mid-century parties virtually required dismissing or belittling what came before. This served to bring out the "transformation of political culture" that they argued for in bolder relief, while at the same time justifying their monofocus on a period of American history when politics seemed to work as the social scientific models said it should (i.e., through professional party organizations) and for which the data was available to fully employ social scientific methods. Aided by the fact that the standard voter turnout tables developed by Walter Dean Burnham did even not begin until 1824, new political historians declared the early 19th century to be a time when "deference to social elites and mass indifference characterized the nation's politics" and "few men were interested in politics, and fewer still actively participated in political affairs." (33)

While sometimes acknowledged, contrary information such as that amassed by Pole and McCormick (and summarized by David Hackett Fischer) was simply not allowed to influence the overall interpretation. Ronald Formisano seemed to brush them aside in his influential article with a passing reference to the "impressionistic evidence and fragments of election returns" on which they were based. Intent on contrasting a politically somnolent era and electorate with the vibrant and assertive one that he and other new political historians had studied so extensively, Formisano declared that voters in this period were mere "deferential participants," allowed to vote but generally content to leave both government and politics to the Founders and other gentleman statesmen and revolutionary heroes. (34) Formisano and others also placed great stress on the early parties' failure to meet the standards for partyhood developed by modern political science, emphasizing such matters as the instability of party names, the persistence of overt opposition to party, the lack of continuing party organizations in the early period, and the higher apparent levels of voting for state and local offices as opposed to the presidency. From these observations flowed numerous semantic discussions of the differences among parties, party systems, proto-parties, interests, and factions, with the determination usually being made that the Federalists and Republicans had not progressed far enough toward the telelogical model of a mass party. (35)

Taken together, the republican synthesis and the new political history opened up an historiographic rift into which the Revolution of 1800, and the political changes it brought, conveniently fell. As David Waldstreicher has put it, scholars interpreted the era only in terms of "its loss of what came before . . . or its lack of what came after," or better yet, they simply ignored its politics altogether. (36) One index of this is the fact that works interpreting politics in the 1790s have continued to appear, often treating the decade as the last act of the American Revolution, while treatments of the post-1800 period have been left mostly to Jefferson biographies and works on foreign policy or the War of 1812. (37)

In terms of evidence if not historiographical volume, the Revolution of 1800 should soon be on the comeback trail. The First Democracy Project, a long-term effort to fill the gaps in the early electoral data and extend them down to the local level, is nearing completion. Conducted by Philip Lampi of the American Antiquarian Society and Andrew W. Robertson of the City University of New York's Lehman College, the project has been painstakingly compiling early election statistics town by town, state by state, year by year out of whatever sources are available: newspaper reports, legislative committee records, county courthouse archives, and even private manuscript collections. Plans are underway to make their data available to researchers over the Internet, and much it can already be accessed, in raw form, through the American Antiquarian Society, in what that institution calls the Lampi Collection of Early American Electoral Data. (38)

What the First Democracy Project data do is place the surge of voting discovered by McCormick, Pole, and Fischer, and thus the Revolution of 1800, on much firmer and more thoroughly mapped ground. [See Charts 1-4 and Table 1 below for examples.] (39) In places as diverse as Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, we see similarly high and increasing levels of voter participation, in an atmosphere of strenuous competition, bitter ideological division, and high officeholding turnover. Competition seems to have been the key to increased turnout, a principle familiar to students of modern politics. Pennsylvania's governor for most of the 1790s was Gen. Thomas Mifflin, a popular though allegedly bibulous revolutionary hero who generally stayed above the political fray. He was unopposed in 1796, and turnout was quite low, less than 30 per cent statewide and only a little over 20 per cent in Lancaster County. In 1799, Mifflin retired and there was a bitter partisan contest between Republican candidate Thomas McKean and Federalist candidate James Ross. Turnout more than doubled statewide and nearly tripled, going up to almost 61 per cent, in Lancaster County. Pennsylvania Federalists were so frightened that they used the state senate to block any presidential election at all in 1800, robbing Thomas Jefferson of what would have been his strongest state outside of the South.

Overall, however, the trendlines show that the revolution in voting was a legacy of Jefferson's election (and its attendant state-level conflicts), rather than its cause. Voter participation rose a bit during the 1790s in some places, but the great surge occurs just after 1800. John Adams thus had some grounds for doubting Jefferson's "mighty wave of public opinion" insofar as he meant voting. In the long run, however, the forces that actually elected Jefferson are less important than what politicians at the time thought elected him or how they reacted to his election. In Delaware, confident Republicans nominated former Revolutionary War officer David Hall for governor in 1801, and even mobilized the usually Federalist Society of the Cincinnati in his favor, sending the Federalists into a panicked frenzy of activity. "Let No Man Stay at home thats able to ride or Walk to the Election," wrote one Delaware Federalist. "They have a Jacobin President & if they git a Jacobin governor all is lost, there will be no more security for person Liberty or property in this State, Nothing but Tyranny Anarchy & confusion & distress." Turnout shot up above 79 per cent in two of the three counties, and Hall won. Yet all was not lost. The Federalists took the governorship back in 1804, driving turnout even higher, up to near 90 per cent in Sussex County. (40)

In Delaware and most other places, Federalists responded to 1800 and other local Republican victories in the same general time period by trying to adapt themselves to the perceived new political culture. The resulting vigorous competition they were able to offer the Republicans was clearly as instrumental as anything else in driving up participation levels during the first years of the 19th century. Thus the erstwhile victims of the Revolution of 1800 actually made a major contribution to it. When Jefferson's embargo and the War of 1812 gave the Federalists a serious and widely resonant set of issues to use against the Republicans, they were able to reach near parity in many places, and voter turnout soared to heights it would not reach again until 1840.

A similar argument was made many years ago by David Hackett Fischer, in his first book, The Revolution of American Conservatism. One does not have to endorse every sentence of Fischer's typically overstated work, with its strained and overdetermined typology of old school, young, and transitional Federalists, to note the fact the Federalists did draw certain conclusions from Jefferson's victory and make or urge certain changes in their manner of proceeding. Most notably, many Federalist leaders decided that they would need to act more like a party if they were to avoid total annihilation in the future. Theodore Dwight's hysterical 1801 oration, already quoted above, included a stern call for Federalists to recognize how they had been defeated and to learn to imitate the methods of their foes. In particular, Dwight argued, Federalists needed to learn not to think of themselves simply as the nation's constituted authorities or as the society's wisest and best people. Instead, they needed to conduct themselves like a political party:

. . . let us profit by the lessons that the Jacobins have taught us. We have learned from experience, what great things may be accomplished by a spirit of union, vigilance, and activity. We have seem a vicious combination, composed of the most discordant materials, agreeing to bury their individual, and separate interests, and passions, and uniting, with one heart, and hand, to forward by every mean, and by all hazards, the general plans of the party. We have also seen them succeed. That government, which the collected wisdom, virtue and patriotism of the United States originally planned . . . is the now the sport of popular commotion -- is adrift, without helm or compass, in a turbid and boisterous ocean. To be prepared against the hour of its shipwreck, or to bring it back in safety to its wonted haven, the Federal party must also unite, be watchful, and active. . . . they must move in a firm, compact, and formidable phalanx, which no common force can resist, and no ordinary danger intimidate. (41)

One of many such calls made by Federalists in the first years of the 19th century, Dwight's remarks helped launch a process in which the Federalists tried to democratize their political style a bit, if not their basic beliefs. Party organizations were created (sometimes more systematic and elaborate than what the Republicans had), newspapers were set up, and appeals to the voters became more common. The elitist rhetoric was toned down a bit, and more libertarian doctrines of press freedom were espoused, at least in cases where Federalist editors faced Republican-controlled governments. (42)

The scramble for every available voter even led the Federalists to support expansion of the suffrage at times, despite their earlier anti-democratic rhetoric. The common though not universal linkage in 19th-century America between expansion of the suffrage for white men and restrictions on black and female voting, often noted in recent studies, (43) typically first arose in this context of Federalist desperation for votes. (Female suffrage was an issue only in New Jersey, where some widows could vote under that state's interpretation of the property requirement.) While it is doubtful that African Americans and women were voting in sufficient numbers anywhere to affect the outcome of many elections, Republicans often feared that Federalist grandees would try to mobilize platoons of dependent voters in order to steal their way back into power. (In reality, of course, blacks were likely to vote Federalist not out of dependence, but because Federalist leaders were more likely to oppose slavery, though many northern Republicans held antislavery views as well.) Thus Republican-led suffrage reform often did include explicit restrictions of voting rights to white men only. While such restrictionism certainly contained ideas of race and gender that we cannot admire today, before the 1820s it tended not to be expressed in openly racist or sexist terms -- in Connecticut's 1818 constitutional debate it was done without any comment at all -- and appears to have been sincerely if wrongly intended to prevent "corruption" of the newly significant electoral process. By the 1830s and 1840s, however, racism was openly and virulently stated as the reason for restricting black suffrage in a number of revisals of state constitutions. (44)

At any rate, political renovations following the Republican blueprints allowed the Federalists to not only hold their Connecticut fortress, but eventually, when the issue environment allowed, to regain competitiveness throughout New England and even in parts of the Middle States, at least at the local and state levels. While never close to gaining a majority of the House of Representatives after 1800, the Federalists held well over a third of the seats during the two congresses of the War of 1812, and as late as the 17th Congress, elected 1820, New York and Pennsylvania together sent 17 Federalists to Washington. (45) If Andrew Jackson had lost the Battle of New Orleans or if the Federalists had ever been able to find an attractive national leader after the death of Alexander Hamilton, their eventual fate might have been very different. At the same time, they only got as far as they did by emulating the Republicans in style and methods, if not in substance.

What happened to the Federalists is an example of perhaps the most important and revolutionary legacy of 1800, an imitative process of partisanization and democratization that, while no means constant or irreversible after 1800, would not in fact be altered in its general direction until the latter part of the nineteenth century. In that era, a number of reforms intended to "purify" the electorate and elevate the tone of political campaigns, including the secret ballot, voter registration, residency requirements, restrictions on voting by felons, paupers, and immigrants, the disfranchisement of black voters in the South, and a retreat from spectacular campaigning, combined to bring about the first longterm reduction in political participation in U.S. history. (46)

2. Pre-Jacksonian Political Culture on Its Own Terms

The question remains, how was the early 19th-century surge in voting accomplished by parties that lacked so many attributes of political parties as they were known later? This was the crux of the new political historians' dismissals, after all: sure, we see that there was some voting, but how much can it mean when it is so clear that there were no "real" parties involved? The post-1800 political system did without most of the familiar institutions and procedures we know from 20th-century American politics. There were as yet no formal platforms, nominating conventions, party chairmen, operatives, or national committees, and there would not be for years. The nature of party organizations and even names would remain tenuous, unstable, and regionally varied for many decades. Indeed, these parties were almost completely lacking in formal institutional structures. As Formisano argued, the early United States had no national party system of the type that existed in 1900 or, God help us, 2000. Campaigning and voting was often more intense at the state and local level than in the presidential elections. But must we accept the underlying premise of the new political historians that such party systems are the normative model of partisan democratic politics?

I would suggest not. Instead, what we see developing in America during the 1790s and triumphing with the Revolution of 1800 is a successful party politics without all the trappings and institutional structures. Wilson Carey McWilliams has suggested that the nineteenth-century parties are best thought of as "civic associations," decentralized networks of allegiances and ideological congruences, causes in the truest sense. (47) What McWilliams observed about the mid-19th-century parties goes triple for the period under discussion here. The disbelief of many scholars in the face of high levels of voter participation before the "birth of mass political parties" bespeaks a fixation with democratic form over content, like Dr. Seuss's Grinch when he discovered that Christmas could come even without the trappings he had stolen: "How could this be so? It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes, or bags!" Yet with the First Democracy Project data on the table, the challenge becomes not explaining the high levels of participation away, but understanding just how and why they developed.

The answer seems to be that two sets of political activists simply improvised, appealing for popular support with whatever means came to hand. They first politicized and then partisanized a number of traditions, institutions, and practices that were already part of Anglo-American popular culture. These included holiday celebrations, parades, taverns, town meetings, petitions, militia company training days, and various products of local printing presses, including broadsides, handbills, almanacs, pamphlets, and, especially, the small-circulation local and regional newspapers that sprang up everywhere after the Revolution. Some of the most interesting artifacts of this type are the plethora of songs published on the back pages of partisan newspapers and sometimes as sheet music or in songbooks, and many presumably sung in taverns or at partisan gatherings. The musical output included not only "Jefferson and Liberty" and "The People's Friend," but also such chart-toppers as "Adams and Liberty," "Huzzah Madison Huzzah," and even "Monroe is the Man." Especially popular among local partisans were innumerable sets of new lyrics to popular tunes such as "Yankee Doodle," "Hail Columbia," and even the "Anacreonic Song," better known today as our national anthem. (Francis Scott Key is only the most famous of these mostly anonymous amateur librettists.) (48)

Each region had some unique local practices that were drawn into partisan politics. In the South, the famous court-day barbecues were transformed in some locations from rituals of noblesse oblige into competitive partisan debates; in New England, the election sermon and the jeremiad were updated into orations and sermons (often delivered in church) that gave partisan political instruction to their pious Yankee audiences in addition to the religious kind. While unusual, one-time incidents like Cheshire's mammoth cheese and the Philadelphia butchers' "mammoth veal" were very much in keeping with the general spirit of politically exploiting whatever local materials happened to be available. Also politicized were the fraternal orders and voluntary associations, institutions just then emerging, with the so-called Democratic-Republican societies and the Tammany Society being two of the best known on the Republican side. Nationalists trying to build patriotic support for new nation during and after the Revolution were the first to mobilize some of these practices, but it was the Jeffersonian Republicans of the 1790s who took the lead in turning them into partisan vehicles, and knitted them loosely together into the decentralized, but intensely committed network that became the Republican party.

While strange and often rather ridiculous to modern eyes, and greatly lacking in the kind of uniformity and consistency that some social scientific scholars would like to see in a party "system," this political culture was successful precisely because it was NOT a standardized national system. Instead, it was thoroughly embedded, and built out of, the culture of everyday life. Holiday celebrations, newspapers, barbecues, and cheese had all long existed in these local cultures. What early American party politicians did was adapt these local customs into something that was politically usable. There were no prefabricated posters and pamphlets mailed from the national party office, no celebrity candidate with entourage and security sweeping in for an appearance, nothing but local people devising their own means of building support for the party with their own local resources. While historians have tended to emphasize the torch light parades, marching companies and mass rallies of the mid-19th-century as democratic icons, it might be argued that many such practices were merely holdovers from earlier decades that had become routinized and bloated from too many injections of money.

David Waldstreicher has applied the general rubric "celebratory politics" to this political culture. Though it carried forward some aspects from colonial and revolutionary politics and bequeathed even more to the party period, taken as whole it was quite successful, distinctive, and worthy of study on its own. Waldstreicher takes holiday celebrations as his primary example, and a brief review of the elements that went into them, and the political functions they played, should give an idea of how this culture operated. (49)

By far the most important day (of many) celebrated during the Revolution of 1800 period was the Fourth of July, a holiday that the Republicans both popularized and made their own politically. Promoting the Fourth of July, as opposed to Washington's Birthday or some other date, as the nation's primary patriotic holiday did a good deal of political work on its own. In upholding July 4, 1776, as the nation's key foundational moment, they not only placed their own champion Thomas Jefferson at center stage, but also identified the Declaration of Independence as the nation's key founding document. (50) They thus enshrined egalitarianism, democracy, and the duty to resist all oppressive governments at the heart of American life at a time when many Federalists wanted to read the "Jacobins" out of American life for expressing those very values. This was one of the "uses of nationalism" that Waldstreicher has described.

Celebrations could have many other political uses as well, some of them quite practical as opposed to grandly ideological in nature. The celebrations tended to bring together as many different elements as possible of the period's popular political culture. Typically included were a parade or procession, a program of some kind including music, a reading of sacred document or two (especially the Declaration of Independence), an oration or sermon or both, a banquet (presided over by specially appointed officers), all of it culminating in a series of a carefully crafted and dangerously lengthy set of toasts. The gatherings served many different political functions simultaneously: to energize and reward activists by throwing a party in which several would be honored as officials of the celebration or as orators of the day; to attract votes by providing entertainment to the populace; and to send political messages through the medium of the speeches, songs, and toasts, which were all designed for publication.

The toasts were in many ways the most important business of any partisan celebration, as they were the most widely published genre of popular political culture. Appearing in local newspapers and often in other regions of the country, toasts served as informal platforms for whatever local community, party, or faction had organized the gathering, and they were carefully parsed for the subtle and not-so-subtle indications they gave as to the balance of political forces and the state of public opinion in a given area. It was not uncommon for newspapers to print sets of toasts from around the country under a heading such as "Public Sentiment." (51) At the same time, toasts were a great venue for inventing and spreading political slogans.

Anyone who reads through the newspapers of the Early Republic for any length of time will find hundreds of such toasts, and to demonstrate how they worked I will simply use the most recent set that I have run across, the Pittsburgh Commonwealth's report of the borough of Beaver's Fourth of July celebration for 1805. (52) The report consisted almost entirely of toasts, 17 of them pre-written plus four "volunteers" offered from the floor. The political context was a schism in the Pennsylvania Republican party pitting Gov. Thomas McKean and his "Constitutional Republican" supporters against the rest of the party (including most of the Republicans members of the state legislature) over a program of radical judicial reform promoted by William Duane, editor of the state and nation's leading Republican newspaper, the Philadelphia Aurora. (53)

The toasts carefully established the Beaver celebrants' positions and strategy in the ongoing conflict. They identified themselves as "democratic republicans" and expressed a pugnacious view of the meaning of the "day we celebrate" that both endorsed the democratic views and authorized their opposition to a governor who had been elected as a republican: "may our children's children be taught that on that day we ceased to be slaves." Toasts were later given to Jefferson, "the Rights of Man and Common Sense," and even to the once-hated John Adams, for his role as a "tried patriot of '76" whose model should be followed in the present effort to "suppress tyrants." While framing the national holiday in their own favor, the celebrants also addressed current practical politics. McKean's democratic challenger Simon Snyder was upheld in prewritten toast six and one of the volunteers; toast three called for the local democrats to be "firm and united" in the coming electoral struggles. Several toasts attempted as major or minor points to frame the race in their own favor, playing off intemperate references that McKean had made of his opponents as "clodhoppers" and "geese." "The clodhoppers of the west" were enjoined to link with their allies in the East and "teach the contemner of the plough that he is unworthy of the confidence of those who guide it"; more generally, the judicial reform battle and the gubernatorial race was set up as one between farmer and mechanics on one hand, and "the host of lawyers," Federalists, "quids" (Republican apostates), and dupes on the other. Victory in the election and the legislature would teach the lawyers and "aristocrats and quids" that were " 'like unto other men.' " Seven of the prewritten toasts spoke to the democrats' platform of judicial and constitutional reform, including a back-handed salute in toast nine to the "The judicial authorities -- may the powers to them delegated for the protections of the people, never be again exercised as engines of tyranny to oppress and enslave them."

A substantive belief was expressed simultaneously with the making of a partisan political point in the first volunteer toast, which asked that democrats' opponents "remain unmolested and unpersecuted, as monuments of the magnanimity of republicans." Gov. McKean had become infamous for his libel prosecutions of first Federalist editors and then his Republican opponents, and while Jefferson initially approved of this use of Federalist methods, Duane and the other Pennsylvania democrats had criticized them.

Perhaps most distinctive in terms of the political concerns and procedures of this period were three toasts that addressed the role of the press in politics. The Aurora and other Republican newspapers had been instrumental in bringing McKean to power, and when the factional strife broke out, the governor was able to keep some of the newspapers in his own camp. The governor's vast patronage powers were key to this effort: most Republican officeholders sided with their employer and swayed certain newspapers with the printing contracts they controlled. The Pittsburgh Commonwealth had been founded by a former apprentice of Duane's named Ephraim Pentland in order to compete with the Tree of Liberty, which had formerly been the primary Republican newspaper in western Pennsylvania but had stayed with the governor even as many of its readers turned against him. A volunteer toast saluted Benjamin Franklin Bache, the Aurora's late founder, and the second and third prewritten toasts contained both a metaphorical wish that the Commonwealth would supercede the Tree of Liberty and an explanation of why it mattered so much:

2. The Tree -- whose fruit is blasted, may it soon be despoiled of its branches, and the axe of the Commonwealth laid at its root. 3 cheers.

3. The republican Commonwealth -- may it be the rallying point of democratic republicans whilst conducted on the principles which gave rise to it, viz. by the truth and reason of its pages to annihilate the impressions of falshood, calumny and error. 6 cheers.

Without an institutional party to authoritatively proclaim their views, the toast implied, democratic Republicans needed "a rallying point," a place of ideological and political rendezvous where partisans could ensure, to use an anachronistic but appropriate phrase, (almost literally) that they were on the same page. With the state's officeholding hierarchy and now their previous rallying point under the control of enemies, it was vital that a new one be created to clarify where Republicans really stood. By praising Simon Snyder and other political figures in the toasts and elsewhere in the journal, the Commonwealth would also be helping to establish who the Republicans were.

As these latter elements of the Pittsburgh toasts suggest, the most important and ubiquitous form of the Early Republic's popular political culture was the partisan press. As David Waldstreicher argues in his seminal description of celebratory politics, it was print, and especially newspapers, that made celebrations work as politics. Since public events like the borough of Beaver's Fourth of July celebration could be attended only by a minority of the population of one small region at any given time, even an extremely well-attended event could have few wide-reaching or lasting political effects--it could not engender wide concert of opinion or action--unless an account was printed in a newspaper. Moreover, debates and rallies and parades could only be held at intervals, and campaigns themselves were intermittent. Add the vast extent of the nation and even of some individual states and congressional districts (especially in far-flung Pennsylvania), and we can see that party activists and voters needed (as Alexis de Tocqueville, who was fascinated with American partisan newspapers, pointed out) "some means of talking every day without seeing one another and of acting together without meeting." (54) Publication in the newspapers transformed toasts, holiday celebrations, and parades from quaint local customs into vital forms of political communication.

At the same time, newspapers played an even more fundamental set of roles in the early parties, one hinted at in the borough of Beaver toasts. Newspapers embodied the early parties in a fairly literal sense. To understand this, we must recall that American political parties developed very unevenly. A fully functioning party system came into being long before the parties themselves became fully institutionalized. Even the Jacksonian-era parties were not legally recognized by government and possessed no permanent institutional structures, to say nothing of the large office buildings and permanent staffs that major political parties possess today. (55)

Newspapers filled many of the gaps left by the party system's uneven development, providing a fabric that held the parties together between elections and conventions, connected voters and activists to the larger party, and linked the different political levels and geographic regions of the country. Newspaper offices were unofficial clubhouses and reading rooms of local parties, and newspaper columns were the major source of party doctrine and strategy for activists and voters alike. In most cases, the local party newspapers were the only corporeal or institutional form that the parties had in a community, and a subscription to a partisan newspaper, or regular readership of one in a tavern or reading room, the only real form of party "membership" or affiliation that existed in this age long before voter registration.

This was as true for candidates as it was for voters. Since few authoritative or officially sanctioned party organizations existed (and no official ballots), a candidate's partisan identity was defined entirely by privately printed matter such as newspapers and tickets that were printed in newspaper offices. Among the local party newspaper's most important jobs were clarifying party labels and their meanings and authenticating candidates on that basis. This was especially true before the late 1830s, when party organizations became more elaborate. Before then (and afterwards, in periods such as the 1850s or 1890s when parties were in flux), labels could be fluid and nominations of uncertain provenance. In many cases, being the candidate of a particular party consisted only in making a convincing claim to being the candidate, and members of new or dying parties, or apostate factions, often had incentives to misrepresent themselves. Thus in September 1813, the Democratic-Republican Baltimore Whig informed its readers that a Mr. Ridgely, running for the House of Delegates from Anne Arundel County as a Republican, was really a Federalist. The editors then proceeded to set down conditions for being considered a Republican. Among other things, a candidate should abjure "federalism of the Boston stamp" and pledge not to cooperate with "infuriated factionists," of which they appended a list. "Otherwise, he will get no republican votes," they continued, and then proceeded to identify the real Republican candidates in Anne Arundel, inserting a previously published ticket. (56)

Party newspapers thus contributed in fundamental ways to the very existence of the parties and to the creation of a sense of membership, identity, and common cause among political officeholders, candidates, activists and voters. The anthropologist Benedict Anderson has assigned newspapers a prominent role in the formation of national identities, and it is clear that they performed a similar function for the parties. Anderson describes a nation as an "imagined community," a group of people unknown to each other personally who share a fundamental sense of relationship despite vast social and economic differences. As Anderson has written, even newspapers more primitive than the early American model, journals that flatly and apolitically reported only such mundane information as commodity prices, ship arrivals, marriages, and government appointments, "created an imagined community among a specific assemblage of readers, to whom these ships, brides, bishops, and prices belonged." (57) This technique or effect of establishing a set of images or reference points that readers could imaginatively possess in common, forming the basis for a sense of belonging to a community, could work for whatever community a journal defined itself as serving, be it a nation, city, movement, ethnic group, or party. Partisan newspapers went further than many journals in the other categories, providing readers not only with a common set of candidates and electoral victories, but also with a common rhetoric and a common set of ideas and interpretations of political affairs based on those ideas.

Though useful, fashionable academic concepts are not necessarily required to perceive the basic importance of newspapers to early American political parties. Tocqueville argued that because democratic political associations measured their success in numbers and because such large numbers of private, working citizens could never meet together, political associations could be formed only in newspapers: "Newspapers make associations, and associations make newspapers." (58) The patterns of newspaper expansion in the Early Republic bear out Tocqueville's assertion. Political crises and transformations coincided frequently with the establishment of large numbers of new newspapers, with the pace of newspaper creation spiking in such periods as the Revolution, the War of 1812, and, of course, the Revolution of 1800. [See charts 5 through 7 below.]

Taking all this together, I would argue that we should think of the early political parties and the political press as not just intimately associated, but fused, as constituent elements of the same system. This convergence of parties and the press, which I call "newspaper politics," was most evident between the turn of the 19th-century and the Civil War, but it remained strong in many rural locations until the 20th-century.

One index of the importance of newspapers to early American politics was the utter ubiquity of newspaper editors in public life during the 19th century. Newspaper politics naturally placed editors in a crucial position. While newspapers themselves provided the medium for the linkages described above, it was the editors who controlled them, using their newspapers to direct the affairs of the party and coordinate its message. Each editor was his party=s principal spokesman, supplier of ideology, and enforcer of party discipline in the area and political level he served. Often he (or very occasionally, she) was chief strategist and manager as well. He and his newspaper defined the party line on issues as they arose and maintained it between party conventions and caucuses. He defended his party=s candidates and officeholders and attacked its opponents. His often-bitter rhetoric whipped recalcitrant party members into line and punished apostates by reading them out of the party. (59) One of the major advantages that editors had over other politicians was that they were the most professional politicians in the political system. They actually ran businesses devoted to politics, making their livings from politics in a way that a lawyer who served in Congress a few months out of the year did not. They were on the job all the time.

Exploiting their position in the party system, large numbers of editors found their way into office, in everything from low-level patronage jobs to seats in Congress and high posts in the federal government. While a full-scale study of the question has not been attempted, it is likely that there were thousands of editors in office across the 19th century, and probably hundreds at any given time after the 1820s. A few examples should make the point: Andrew Jackson appointed more than 70 newspaper editors to posts in his administration. There were six former editors in the Senate at one point during the late 1830s, and three in Abraham Lincoln's cabinet. The last gasp for newspaper politics probably came in 1920, when two Ohio newspaper editors, Warren G. Harding and James M. Cox, ran against each other for president. (60)

Commenting on the mistaken network calls of the 2000 presidential election, "presidential historian" Allen Lichtman (as seen on television!) lamented that the news media had "inserted itself as part of the political process rather than as observers as analysts of it." (61) In the 19th century, the press did not have to insert itself: it was already there, not just influencing the political system though its mistakes and enthusiasms, but acting as a basic working component whose members were fully engaged in and partly responsible for the system's political outcomes.

3. The Revolution of 1800 and the Origins of Newspaper Politics

The clear point of origin for this system of newspaper politics was Thomas Jefferson's victory in the election of 1800, and indeed, besides democracy itself, newspaper politics may have the Revolution of 1800's most enduring legacy. One of the very few points of agreement between Federalists and Republicans concerning the politics of the 1790s was the decisive role of newspapers in determining the outcome of their struggle. In the aftermath of the "Revolution of 1800," Federalists and Republicans alike blamed or credited the nationwide network of Republican newspapers for Jefferson's triumph. Jefferson praised the "unquestionable effect" of the Philadelphia Aurora and the other papers "in the revolution produced on the public mind, which arrested the rapid march of our government toward monarchy." A Delaware Republican attributed the "great political change in the Union" largely to the "unremitting vigilance of Republican Printers." The arch-Federalist Fisher Ames of Massachusetts growled that "the newspapers are an overmatch for any government . . . the Jacobins owe their triumph to the unceasing use of this engine." (62)

The use of newspapers to accomplish political ends had roots in America that went back as far as the 1730s, but the press first gained its tremendous reputation for political efficacy during the American Revolution. Many of the Founders believed that newspapers had been a crucial tool in their efforts to build opposition to the British in 1760s and 1770s, and then again in selling the Constitution to the new nation in 1787 and 1788. (63)

The early congresses wrote the Founders' reliance on newspapers into national policy when they created favorable postage rates for newspapers, arranged to pay certain newspapers to reprint the laws of the United States, and codified the longstanding custom of allowing newspaper printers to exchange newspapers with each other through the mail without charge. This latter practice allowed a host of small weekly newspapers, each with a circulation of only a few hundred or a few thousand, to together form a kind of national network. Each printer needed to supply relatively little original material himself, but anything he did publish had a potentially large audience extending far beyond his local area. When newspapers began to identify with the Republicans or Federalists, what was in essence a subsidized national system of political communication sprang into being. The partisan bonds were cemented further by the fact that most of these newspapers were sold only by subscription, with further funding coming, in time, from printing contracts directed by officeholders to printers of their own political persuasion. (64)

Newspaper politics as described above began to take shape in the early 1790s, when Jefferson and Madison recruited Philip Freneau to start a Philadelphia newspaper that would be their surrogate in the battle against Alexander Hamilton for public opinion and the soul of the new government. By 1791, battle lines had appeared in congressional voting and Cabinet infighting over a number of issues, but the dissidents had as yet no common basis for identifying themselves and communicating their ideas to voters. The emerging party battle took concrete, public, and self-identified form only with the establishment of Freneau's National Gazette.

While carrying a full line of the serialized essays that had long been the staple of American political debate, the most striking and significant aspect of Freneau's paper was its effort to project the image of a coherent opposition party. A string of items in the National Gazette boiled down the welter of arguments, preferences, and fears that government opponents had expressed to a few crisp points and gave a collective name to the politicians and citizens who held them. Though electoral organizing was at a very nascent stage of development, Freneau's newspaper provided the critical service of creating at least an imaginary body for readers to identify with and join. (65) At the same time, the furious reactions of John Fenno's pro-administration Gazette of the United States set up the prototype partisan newspaper dyad that in time would be replicated in every significant town and become the basic unit of early American party politics.

James Madison himself began the process with a 2 April 1792 essay entitled "The Union: Who are its real Friends?" Covering only half a column, the piece succinctly laid out some key differences between supporters and opponents of the administration, working to establish the idea that opposition to present government policies was not the same as opposition to the government itself. Madison used the format of answers to the question asked in the title of the piece: "Not those who promote unnecessary accumulations of debt . . . Not those who study, by arbitrary interpretations and insidious precedents, to pervert the limited government of the Union, into a government of unlimited discretion, contrary to the will and subversive of the authority of the people. . . . The real FRIENDS of the Union are those, . . . Who are friends to the limited and republican system of government, . . . Who considering a public debt as injurious to the interests of the people . . . are enemies to every contrivance for unnecessarily increasing its amount." Having thus covered public finance and constitutional interpretation, Madison threw in other paired "Not . . . Who" statements expressing opposition fears that Hamilton's policies were smoothing the way for the development of an American aristocracy and monarchy. (66)

A few weeks later, Freneau gave the "real friends" the name they would use in the party battles of the 1790s, in a sketch called "Sentiments of a Republican." Here Freneau offered both a particular analysis of current public affairs and a label that those who shared this analysis could adopt. The piece encompassed Madison's themes of increased public debt, loose constitutional interpretation, and creeping monarchy, but it put more emphasis on feelings--the reader and potential opposition supporter's feelings--about what Hamilton's policies were doing to the country. The Republican's sentiments about rising corruption, social inequality, and the betrayal of Revolutionary ideals provided a taste of the hyperbolic, Manichean rhetoric that would become common in the partisan press of the 1790s and after: "It would seem as if some demon . . . had whispered in the ears of the First Congress . . . the most speedy and efficient means of destroying the liberties of the United States." (67)

Madison and Freneau used the term "republican" for themselves as a way of claiming that only the opposition fundamentally supported republican government, but it was also clear that they meant to use it as a partisan political label. (68) A few day after publishing "Sentiments of a Republican," Freneau observed that "two parties . . . have shown themselves in the doings of the new government," the first time that his paper had used that term to describe the divisions that had emerged. He went on to outline the differences between the two parties, covering the same issues Madison had, but in his own harsher and more emotional language. (69)

Before the end of 1792, Madison made two final contributions to Freneau's paper that helped fully shape the still mostly imagined opposition party. In September, "A Candid State of Parties" provided a brief history of American politics. Looking to rescue his own political consistency, as a supporter of the Constitution turned opponent of the government, Madison tried to more or less officially name the new parties and distinguish the present party conflict from the earlier ones, Whig vs. Tory and federalist vs. antifederalist. The current division, "likely to be of some duration," was between two new groups: an "anti republican party" who "are more partial to the opulent than to the other classes of society; and having . . . a persuasion that mankind are incapable of governing themselves, it follows with them . . . that government can be carried on only by pageantry of rank, the influence of money . . . , and the terror of military force" and a "republican party" who "believing . . . that mankind are capable of governing themselves, and hating hereditary power as an outrage to the rights of man, are naturally offended at every public measure that does not appeal to the understanding . . . of the community, or that is not strictly conformable to the principles . . . of republican government." (70)

In December, Madison returned to the question format he had used in "The Union" but now framed the answers explicitly as the dueling creeds of opposed parties; he also adopted more of the strident, populist tone that Freneau and his paper's other writers had been using. No longer the "contemplative statesman" who had examined the state of parties in the previous essay, Madison now asked "Who are the best keepers of the people' liberties?" and answered through a scathing dialogue between a "Republican" and an "Anti-Republican." In this presentation, the party difference was boiled down to the single, fundamental issue of democracy: how much of it could a republic allow and survive? Madison's earlier and later views on this question were sometimes highly equivocal, but here his party archetypes expressed blunt, starkly opposed views. They began:


Republican.--The people themselves.--The sacred trust can be nowhere so safe as in the hands most interested in preserving it.

Anti-republican.--The people are stupid, suspicious, licentious. They cannot safely trust themselves. When they have established government, they should think of nothing but obedience, leaving the care of their liberties to wiser rulers.

By the end of the piece, the mild-mannered Virginian had the two parties calling each other names. The Anti-republican pronounced the Republican "an accomplice of atheism and anarchy," while the Republican shot back, getting the last word, that his opponent was "a blasphemer of the [people's rights] and an idolater of tyranny." Here Madison imaginatively constructed the barely emergent party conflict in much the terms that it would rage for the next two decades. (71)

While they did much with the National Gazette to foster the idea that an opposition party existed, Madison and Freneau were less certain about how or whether to connect their newspaper Republicans to the world of legislative and electoral politics. At any rate, Freneau's journal folded in 1793, before much serious partisan electioneering had developed. The burden of promoting what Madison had named the Republican cause shifted away from high-level statesmen and their hand-picked spokesman to newspapers of more conventional origins (and, in the beginning, more conventional purposes) such as the Philadelphia General Advertiser (later renamed the Aurora) and the Boston Independent Chronicle. These journals went beyond constituting a mere arena for public debate and even beyond the National Gazette's imaginative construction of party. They not only promoted particular sets of beliefs, but, in time, particular sets of candidates associated with those beliefs, forging a critical link between the battle for public opinion and the battle for actual political power. Political candidates may have occasionally been promoted in newspapers before, but never on such a sustained and ideological basis. (72)

Increasingly, partisan newspapers were allowing new voices into American politics as well as performing new functions. Where in the past newspapers had been mostly conduits for the political writings of educated gentlemen, the partisan editors of the 1790s (especially on the Republican side) were much more likely to control the political direction of their journals themselves, publishing their own writings and often becoming political figures and committed political activists. Most of these editors were printers by training, artisans or "mechanics" who generally lacked the education, breeding, or other marks of gentility that would have allowed them to be part of the traditional "speaking" leadership class.

Also writing for the Republican press, and becoming political figures in their own right, were a number of radical journalists who had been exiled from England, Scotland, and Ireland. Following in the rhetorical and ideological footsteps of Thomas Paine, the printers and the immigrant radicals brought a blunt, emotional style and strongly democratic beliefs into American political debate. (73) In particular, they bitterly resented and skewered the pretensions to social and moral superiority that were increasingly expressed by Federalist speakers and writers, and they feared to attack no public figure, even George Washington himself, who proved himself in their eyes an impediment to democracy and republicanism.

Where colonial printers had usually at least paid lip service to the need to give all viewpoints impartial access to their pages, the new partisan journals tended to be or become committed partisans. "If by impartiality, it is intended to convey an idea of equal attachment to aristocracy as to republicanism," declared the first issue of the New York American Citizen, "then this paper rejects an impartiality so ruinous to the best interests of mankind." (74)

The Republicans had a small network of such newspapers in place by the time John Adams took office, with outlets in many of the principal towns. Congressional Federalists felt annoyed or threatened enough by this network to try to stamp out or intimidate it with the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. The framers of the Sedition Act believed that Republican printers and writers were mere mercenaries or hired help controlled by ambitious Republican gentlemen, and that government pressure would quickly rearrange printers' calculations of self-interest and disperse the Republican press. This analysis of the common political activists' motives was consonant with the Federalists' street-level strategy of dealing with Republican journalists, which was to shame them into silence. This was done by publicizing their relatively low social status or (supposedly) disreputable personal lives in the press, or perhaps demonstrating it with a beating or whipping in the streets or in their own offices. While dueling was the means of redressing a wrong from an equal, corporal punishment was appropriate for effrontery that came from a presumptuous inferior or anyone else not deemed worthy of respect.

This approach tended not to work, as shown by the extensive accounts of attacks on Republican editors that appeared in the Republican newspapers. The editors tended to regard Federalist shaming as a badge of honor, and to at least rhetorically reject the Federalist view (which was really a fairly traditional one familiar in Great Britain and in the colonial period) that social respectability and political leadership should be reserved for those well-born, well-educated, or wealthy enough not to have to work with their hands. When Wilmington printer James J. Wilson was taunted as an "upstart" and cowhided by Federalist lawyer Richard Stockton, he responded with a lengthy narrative that embraced the epithet:

Mr. Stockton's meaning in calling me a damn'd upstart, is at least equivocal. If he meant by it, as he apparently did, that I depended on my own industry for support, that I wished no surreptitious merit, and that I would rise, if I rose at all, by personal exertion, in an honest occupation. -- I acknowledge the justness of the epithet. (75)

Shaming and other persecutions also tended to confirm Republican printers and immigrant radicals in their commitment to the Republican cause, because the Republican party not only had a place for men like them, but even allowed them to become major spokesmen and leaders. So Aurora editor William Duane waxed eloquent in response to the supposedly shaming revelation that he had once worked as a journeyman printer:

Perhaps it was from a supposition that my excessive vanity would be extremely mortified that you have informed the world that I was a journeyman printer. What an abominable thing, that a journeyman printer should have the ambitious temerity to become an organ of public opinion in America! That a man who had been a journeyman printer should dare to become a writer on American affairs, a politician . . . or be deemed worthy of the regards of men distinguished by their talents and their virtues in an age like this! (76)

Based as it was on a gross underestimate of the Republican editors' level of political commitment and self-respect, the Federalist repression campaign backfired badly. Though almost all the major pre-1798 Republican journals were hit and several were crippled by sedition prosecutions, the overall number of Republican journals and the geographic area they covered greatly increased. Moreover, the new journals were much more intensely political than their predecessors, and they found a tremendous source of political hay in the very "reign of terror" (as they called it) that was supposed to be shutting the press network down. During 1798 and 1799, one of most prolific and effective sources of material was simply to reprint stories of other editors' persecutions under the Alien and Sedition Acts and other forms of Federalist harassment. So former printer and current congressman Matthew Lyon, who had once brawled with a Federalist on the House floor, became a national figure through the extensive coverage of his sedition trial and imprisonment.

Exchange papers and mutual adversity also brought the Republican newspapers into closer coordination with each other. Since most newspapers had such small and relatively localized circulations, editors regularly carried announcements of new journals in other towns, reprints of their "proposals" and introductory "addresses" to readers, and often even took subscriptions for each other's newspapers. There were even proposals, and one serious effort by Matthew Lyon's printer son James, to create an out-and-out chain of Republican newspapers. This effort failed, and in truth, it was probably not necessary. Even in its relatively informal and decentralized state, the network was already identifiable and cohesive enough that it was possible to toast and write about it as a collective entity, as the Trenton True American did in July 1801. Most of the journal's first page was taken up one week by a kind of review essay listing all the active "REPUBLICAN NEWS-PAPERS" across the country, naming their proprietors and assessing the "laurels won" by each of "our Editorial Brethren, in the late Republican victory." According to the True American's census, there were active outlets in: Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Bennington, Vermont; Salem, Pittsfield, and Boston (2), Massachusetts; Hartford and New London, Connecticut; New York and Albany, New York; Newark, Elizabethtown, and Trenton, New Jersey; Philadelphia, Lancaster, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; Richmond (2), Petersburg, and other locations in Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; and Raleigh, North Carolina; plus other newspapers in the South and West that were "principally Republican" in their politics but "confin[ed] themselves mostly to detailing news or selecting from other papers." (77) One of the more graphic representations of the network, showing the level of cooperation, was a box of some sixty-one "agents," Republican printers and postmasters from the District of Maine to the Mississippi Territory, who would receive subscription orders for the Walpole, New Hampshire Political Observatory, one of the new Republican newspapers started after 1800 to help bring New England into the Republican fold. (78)

Federalists and other observers were amazed at how quickly and effectively themes, arguments, information, and particular articles moved back and forth across the Republican press network. The Philadelphia Aurora was the clear ideological leader and chief source of information for the others on politics at the seat of government. It seems to have taken from two weeks to a month for Aurora material to get over the mountains to the network's furthest extremities in Kentucky and western Pennsylvania, but only a few days to a week to get as far away from Philadelphia as Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and Raleigh, North Carolina. (79) This was blinding speed by 18th-century standards. Duane's newspaper was "the heart, the seat of life" of the Republican party, argued the Federalist Hartford Courant. "From thence the blood has flowed to the extremities by a sure and rapid circulation . . . It is astonishing to remark, with how much punctuality and rapidity, the same opinion has been circulated and repeated by these people from high to low." (80)

At times, the thematic unity across various far-flung journals was striking. In early 1801, for instance, with suspicions roiling about Federalist intentions in the coming presidential vote in Congress, one of the Aurora's chief themes concerned the "Federal Firework," a fire at the new Treasury Department building in Washington that was widely considered an act of arson aimed at destroying or removing records that would supposedly prove allegations of financial malfeasance that the Republican newspapers had been making for months. A random sampling of other newspapers shows the "Treasury Bonfire" popping up frequently in various forms, from relatively neutral reports in the Kentucky Gazette to dark rumors about wagonloads of Treasury Secretary Oliver Wolcott's personal property being carried off in a wagon just before the fire began and mysterious men who were found still working in the building as citizens arrived to put out the blaze. (81)

Yet just as striking as the Aurora's influence is the evident decentralization of the Republican press newspaper network. An effective theme or strong essay or telling bit of information could originate in any local Republican newspaper, no matter how obscure, and fan out from there in any direction. While promoted by the Aurora, the Treasury fire story actually originated in the Georgetown Cabinet, a little-read publication that was in existence for only a little over six months. Duane also found space to reprint from many other small local newspapers over the same period, including the Salem Register, the New London Bee, the Boston Constitutional Telegraphe, and the Pittsburgh Tree of Liberty, among others. (82)

The same principles applied to newspapers of the opposing political persuasion. Most newspapers were Federalist-leaning in 1790s, but most older printers were commercial in orientation and much preferred published shipping notices, price lists, and advertisements over political essays. There were a number of virulently Federalist or anti-Republican journals, however, and these gradually developed into more of a network, especially after 1800. The creation of a rival network was critical to both the continued health of the Republican one and to the promotion of party competition. Printers seem to have exchanged newspapers across political lines, allowing them to carry on rhetorical battles with enemy editors in distant towns. William Duane found Federalist partisan newspapers "very unfortunate" in their views, but opined that "these papers have, however, their use. They promote discussion, and by putting their rivals on the defensive, sometimes promote new facts." (83)

While centralized command and control might seem to be indicators of a strong political organization, partisan newspaper networks thrived and drew some of their effectiveness from their very decentralization. The party's general message could be filtered or adjusted to suit local predilections, as when southern Republican newspapers tried to justify and refine the principles of the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions while northern Republican journals largely avoided the topic after 1798. Reports and extracts from one section or state could sometimes be usefully imported to another region for political impact. The Aurora did this with its constant stream of material on the depredations of the Federalist-Congregational "Standing Order" in Connecticut, whose stalwarts such as "Pope" Timothy Dwight were relentlessly compared to a certain Enlightenment caricature of the Catholic Church and turned into the "fiery bigots" mentioned in the lyrics of "Jefferson and Liberty," ready to "Lay waste our fields and streets in blood." (84) (Federalist editors returned the favor by turning Duane himself into a kind of Jacobin bogeyman to whom any local Republican they despised could be compared.)

A final benefit of newspaper networks was their modularity. Any individual unit could be marginalized or dispensed with, as the Aurora slowly was after 1800, without affecting the health of the larger network much at all.

Contemporaries were deeply impressed with what the Republican press network was able to accomplish, often flatly attributing not only Jefferson's victory to the newspapers, but also some kind of deeper democratic awakening of the people to defense and exercise of their rights. "Had it not been for the patriotic exertions . . . of Republican Papers," declared the Trenton True American's review essay, "the People would have indulged their love of peace and quiet, until the yoke of tyranny would have been insidiously fixed on their necks." (85)

For some, of course, this alleged awakening of the vox populi was something to worry over as much as celebrate. The Rev. Samuel Miller wrote one of the more extended statements on the newspaper revolution of 1800 in his misnamed Brief Retrospect of the Eighteenth Century. Miller marveled at the way that newspapers, once "considered of small moment in society," had become "immense moral and political engines, closely connected with the welfare of the state, and deeply involving both its peace and prosperity," in which "the principles of government, the interests of nations, the spirit and tendency of public measures are all arraigned, tried, and decided." Miller reflected somewhat mournfully that the political newspaper probably constituted his country's primary contribution to world literature. (86)

While important in Europe, political newspapers had achieved unprecedented scope and power in the United States. Never before, anywhere, "was the number of political journals so great in proportion to the population of a country as at present in ours"; moreover, nowhere else were newspapers "so cheap, so universally diffused, and so easy of access." This wide distribution had greatly enlarged the number of people who could be informed about and participate intelligently in the political life of the community, opening these opportunities to many who had never been part of the political class in any previous society. The United States, Miller wrote,

especially in the last twelve or fifteen years, has exhibited a spectacle never before displayed among men, even yet without parallel on the earth. It is the spectacle, not of the learned and the wealthy only, but of the great body of the people; even a large portion of that class of the community which is destined to daily labour, having free and constant access to public prints, receiving regular information of every occurrence, attending to the course of political affairs, discussing public measures, and having thus presented to them constant excitements to the acquisition of knowledge, and continual means of obtaining it. (87)

By providing an effective means of communicating with such a wide political public, newspapers had revolutionized the arts of political persuasion and organization. Formerly,

"to sow the seeds of political discord, or to produce a spirit of union and co-operation through an extensive community, required time, patience, and a constant series of exertions." The advent of "the general circulation of Gazettes" had ushered in a new political era, in which "impressions could be made on the public mind . . . with a celerity, and to an extent of which our ancestors had no conception." The effect of this had been to inculcate the habits and values of democratic citizenship in the populace: "to keep the public mind awake and active . . . confirm and extend the love of freedom . . . promote union of spirit and of action among the most distant members of an extended community." (88)

What made the power of the press alarming to Miller was the men who seemed to control it. He perceived that it was not just mass political behavior that had experienced some democratization, but the press itself. If "the conductors of public prints" were uniformly "men of talents, learning, and virtue," Miller opined, then newspapers "would be a source of moral and political instruction, and, of course, a public blessing." Unfortunately, this was not the case. During the recent rise of partisan newspapers, and we may surmise that Miller was thinking of the Republican network, "persons of less character, and of humbler qualifications, began, without scruple, to undertake the high task of enlightening the public mind." By 1803, when Miller wrote, any "judicious observer" had to agree that "that too many of our gazettes are in the hands of persons destitute at once of the urbanity of gentlemen, the information of scholars, and the principles of virtue." (89)

Miller was unusual in upholding party divisions per se as "natural and salutary," but he found parties as they operated after the 1790s -- intense, democratic, and under the rhetorical and often ideological supervision of editors who were usually artisan printers by training -- distasteful and potentially calamitous. The frequency of elections meant "a corresponding frequency of struggle between political parties," and these struggles naturally generated "mischievous passions, and every species of coarse invective." If newspaper editors had "more diligence, or greater talents," these unfortunate by-products of party could be kept from dominating public life, but "unhappily, too many conductors of our public prints have neither the discernment, the firmness, nor the virtue to reject from their pages the foul ebullitions of prejudice and malice." (90)

Since it was not in such qualified hands, the political press that had emerged from the Revolution of 1800 seemed to Miller a grave social problem. "The friend of rational freedom, and of social happiness, cannot but contemplate with the utmost solicitude, the future influence of political journals on the welfare of society," he wrote. "As they form one of the great safeguards of free government, so they also form one of its most threatening assailants." Unless the "growing evil" were corrected somehow, Miller could only foresee "the arrival of that crisis in which we must yield either to an abridgement of the liberty of the press, or to a disruption of every social bond." (91) From Miller's point of view, it was probably that latter that occurred after 1800, as American society simply learned to live (grudgingly, in the case of Francis Grund's companions) with a level of mischievous passion, coarse invective, and general messiness that went along with a democratic politics that was conducted in close contact with the everyday lives of ordinary citizens.

While the more aristocratically minded Republican and Federalist leaders sometimes expressed similar fears, particularly when they were politically at odds or in competition with some powerful editor, they typically took a more practical view toward the partisan press that quickly became conventional wisdom. It was a lesson that political leaders and activists felt they had learned during the Revolution of 1800. This was simply that newspapers were the most effective and in many ways the one essential tool necessary to gain support and votes for any party or cause. Anyone who wanted get anywhere politically knew they had to have newspapers in their arsenal, and preferably a network of them. So Jefferson's attorney general, Levi Lincoln, was quite certain in July 1801 that his home state of Massachusetts could be brought around immediately with an infusion of Republican journalism: "A few more republican newspapers and the thing is accomplished. Exertions are making to obtain them." Lincoln's exertions were part of a journalistic arms race that broke out between Federalists and Republicans after 1800, focusing first on New England through Jefferson's 1804 landslide but then spreading out across the rest of the country, with town after town acquiring at least one Republican-Federalist newspaper dyad. In the same period, numerous intra-Republican factional battles led to the creation of a second or third Republican newspaper (as in the case of the Pittsburgh Commonwealth) to represent each group. The arms race peaked just before the War of 1812, appropriately enough, as the Federalists made their electoral comeback. [See chart 6 below for the chronological patterns in newspaper creation up to 1820.] This basic strategy was employed hundreds of times throughout the 19th century, and its entry into conventional wisdom marks the moment when newspaper politics came into its own. (92)

Of course, as historians, we must not accept these high estimates of the democratic powers of the press uncritically. Certainly modern students of political communication would regard such views as naive in assuming a direct and unproblematic relationship between media messages and political support. Were the lessons of 1800 correct? Did partisan newspapers really translate into political participation, and votes?

The First Democracy Project data allow us to test this proposition, at least circumstantially, by examining local voting patterns in areas where partisan journalism was first introduced. While more systematic research needs to be done, early indications are that the political leaders of 1800 were not wrong to perceive that partisan newspapers made a strong electoral impact. In numerous locations, Republican voting, and voting in general, seem to have increased sharply after an outlet of the Republican newspaper network was established.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, for instance, was a strongly Federalist area where Republican candidates either did not run or were overwhelmingly defeated as late as 1796. Lancaster got its first Republican newspapers in 1799, the German-language Correspondent in May and the English-language Intelligencer in July, and they were particularly tough-minded and effective examples of the breed. The Intelligencer's printer, William Dickson, was even more deeply and directly involved in campaigning than most Republican printers. A few weeks after the Intelligencer's appearance, Lancaster Republicans held a public meeting to organize themselves for the gubernatorial campaign, and Dickson's name appeared on the committee of correspondence. The editor remained a Republican activist in Lancaster for years, eventually becoming treasurer of Lancaster and then a member of the town's first elected city council. (93)

Voting patterns in Lancaster changed rapidly after the Intelligencer's debut. Republican gubernatorial candidate Thomas McKean and the rest of the ticket did not carry Lancaster County in the 1799 elections, but Republicans were competitive there for the first time. As mentioned above, turnout was nearly triple what it had been in the previous gubernatorial election. In 1800, Republican congressional candidate John Whitehall actually won a majority in Lancaster itself while losing the election district-wide by the relatively small margin of 347 votes. More significantly, more than twice as many votes were cast in 1800 as in the 1798 congressional race, even though Pennsylvanians were prevented from voting in the presidential election that year. By 1802, then-incumbent Governor McKean won the county handily, while the Republican congressional candidates -- it was now a three-man district -- averaged 56.5 per cent of the vote. [See table 1 below.] (94)

Some even more striking instances occurred as the lessons of 1800 were implemented afterwards, with both the general results and such of the local statistics as I have been able to analyze seeming to bear out Levi Lincoln's expectations to an almost shocking degree. Some eighteen new Republican newspapers appeared in New England between 1801 and 1804, and Jefferson carried every state there but Connecticut. To name only one example, the printer Nathaniel Willis, a former apprentice at the Boston Independent Chronicle, came to Portland in mid-1803 to establish the District of Maine's first Republican newspaper, the Eastern Argus. Only two years later, he was able to reflect that, while he could not give himself all the credit, "his efforts have not been ineffectual." After the spring state elections of 1805, Willis proved his this conclusion by printing a simple table showing the Republicans' changing fortunes over the not quite two years that he had been in business:

Federal Majority in 1803, 4881
Republican Majority in 1804, 64
Republican Majority in 1805, 1905

Such was the "powerful effect of correct politics" and political newspapers, Willis believed. (95)

Though Jefferson's Republicans created the model and always maintained an advantage, the voting statistics show that both parties could play successfully at newspaper politics, and that if voter participation was the goal, it was better if they both played. Take the example of Hudson, New York, the seat and publishing center of Columbia County. [See chart 4 below.] While this would one day be the cradle of native son Martin Van Buren's Bucktail Democrats, in 1800 Columbia County was a Federalist area, so much so that both of the congressional candidates were Federalist even as other parts of the state were shifting Republican and handing the national election over to Jefferson. In Columbia County, the races for the state assembly that would control the presidential election were won by the Federalists with 54 per cent of the vote. Then suddenly, in 1801, the Republican state assembly ticket won a narrow victory, with an average majority of only 15 votes. There were as yet no stridently political newspapers in Hudson, but soon after the 1801 election, printer and budding Episcopal priest Harry Croswell founded the first one, the Federalist Balance. (Croswell, of course, would later become the defendant in a famous Republican-instigated libel suit for his criticisms of Jefferson.) In the spring assembly elections that followed in 1802, the Federalists stormed back to victory, improving on the Republicans' previous margin tenfold, though that still only amounted to an average majority of 150 votes. (96)

Having learned the lessons of 1800 well, the local Republican brain trust knew what had to be done: send for a partisan Republican printer. In New London, Connecticut, Sedition Act victim Charles Holt was facing debtor's prison as his newspaper, the Bee, tottered on the edge of collapse. Though the New London Bee was one of the most influential Republican newspapers in New England and a favorite of Thomas Jefferson's, the continuing power and hostility of the Connecticut oligarchy, the large number of other Republican newspapers springing up around New England, and the neglect of Jefferson's own administration had reduced the paper to a pitiful state by early 1802. Holt reduced the size of the Bee to only two pages, stopped writing much original material, and concentrated on collecting debts and shopping for a friendlier location. He found it in Hudson. The local Republicans offered Holt $500 to defray the expenses of moving and office space on the upper floor of what was later called the Hudson "Democratic club," a building owned by a local Republican judge. Wasting no time, he shut down his New London operation in late June 1802 and had the Bee publishing in Hudson by mid-August. (97)

Holt's impact in Hudson was immediate and sensational. Even before the Bee appeared, Harry Croswell rushed into print with a companion newspaper called the Wasp. With few advertisements and a banner motto promising "To lash the Rascals naked through the world," the Wasp was devoted almost entirely to insulting Republicans, with special attention paid to Thomas Jefferson but even more to Charles Holt. "Jacobin printers" were being "bought or hired, and set to work in their favorite trade of detraction," Croswell wrote, and it was his job to resist them. Having thus "undertaken the chastisement of a set of fellows . . . intrenched in filth," he was resolved to "wade knee-deep in smut" in order to "meet his enemies on their own ground." Accordingly, Holt read in the Wasp (which actually rarely approached the smut levels of such masters as William Cobbett and James Callender) that he was "a lazy swine . . . wallowing in a puddle," and starred in at least three parodic songs, including not one but two versions of Yankee Doodle. The fun went on in twelve occasional issues published over six months. (98)

Holt himself mostly ignored Croswell's attacks on himself and concentrated on the larger, self-described mission of his paper: "to disseminate wholesome and correct ideas of government," "to inculcate union, friendship, and liberality among all 'brethren of the same principle,' " and "to detect and expose falsehood and error, and defend truth against the open and or insidious attack of its enemies." These statements from the Hudson Bee's proposals succinctly described the job of acting as public spokesman and manager of the local Republican party. The latter part of the mission, rebutting or defusing Federalist attacks, was especially important in 1802, when the Federalist press was pounding President Jefferson with scandals involving his relationship with Sally Hemings and his payments to James Thomson Callender. Holt had "devoted himself to the publication of a republican newspaper as the most effectual method of propagating republican opinions," and it was assumed, perhaps correctly, that opinions would translate into votes. (99)

Whatever their cause, Republican results in the assembly election following the Bee's founding must have pleased the men who had lured Holt to Hudson. In the May 1803 contests, the Republican candidates improved on their predecessors' totals by an average of almost 300 votes, and won. It is especially worth noting for our purposes that the Republican victory was based largely on new voters: the average total Federalist vote also increased, but the Republicans still outpolled them by an average of 88 votes, to the surprise and consternation of Croswell and other Federalists. So the overall level of voting was increasing as Columbia County acquired its first partisan newspapers. The average total vote in assembly elections, which should roughly approximate the number of individual voters, increased every election (from 2,894 in 1800 to 3,568 in 1804), in a period when the county's population was actually declining. When turnout rates are calculated, we can see that turnout rose a bit each year and substantially over the whole period, from a little less than 43 per cent in 1800 to a little less than 53 per cent in 1804. Something democratic was going on in Columbia County, at least in terms of voting participation, and partisan newspapers seem to have helped stimulate it. (100)

These statistics should be taken as suggestive only. There were some clear extrinsic reasons for greater turnout and increased Republican voting, such as the existence of a hotly contested presidential race with a certain popular hero at the head of the Republican ticket. In Pennsylvania, a string of bitter gubernatorial elections beginning in 1799 brought out the voters, and the heavy-handed suppression of the so-called Fries' Rebellion in 1800 is said to have soured German voters on the Federalists. On the other hand, few extrinsic causes, other than the Republicans' increasing popularity and strenuous, newspaper-based campaigning, can be named for the voting changes observed in the elections immediately following 1800. In any case, no certain or one-way link can or should be made between newspapers and voting. Newspapers were only one part of the popular political culture that coalesced in 1800, with celebrations and partisanship itself -- the mere fact of organized, ideological political competition -- were all working with newspapers to politicize and energize the nation's expanding electorate.

At the very least, the statistics are one more piece of evidence that the widespread perceptions of political change during and after the Revolution of 1800 really did have some basis in reality. We do not have to give Jefferson much personal credit for it, though his ringing rhetoric and carefully shaped image as "The People's Friend" surely played an important role. Nor should resurrecting the idea of a democratic Revolution of 1800 lead us to overlook or downplay the negative consequences of the Republican victory for Native and African Americans, which were surely legion. Indeed, the massive territorial expansion and westward population movement that followed Jefferson's victory might be seen as part of a (white) democratic revolution prepared to mow down all in its path, for good and for ill. Nevertheless, it is surely wrongheaded to follow the Adamses in pretending that nothing much happened at all when John lost that election back in 1800.












LANCASTER COUNTY, PA. Voting 1796-1802

Lines indicate founding of Lancaster Intelligencer, July 1799
Federalist Republican Total Vote Est. Turnout
1796 Kittera


95.62% Webb


4.38% 1756 20.81%
1798 Kittera


77.51% Barton


22.49% 1810 20.21%
1800 Boude


54.13% Whitehill


45.87% 4201 43.87%
1802 three-candidate ave.


43.33% three-candidate ave.


56.67% 5129 53.06%
Federalist Republican Total Vote
1796 Burton


51.51% Scott (F?)


48.49% 1850
1798 Boude


47.95% Carpenter (F)


52.05% 1829
1800 Burton


54.65% Schaffner


45.35% 4183
1802 Carpenter


43.50% Steele


56.50% 5110
Federalist Republican Total Vote Est. Turnout
1796 Mifflin (unopposed)


1758 20.81%
1799 Ross


59.26% McKean


40.74% 5543 60.71%
1802 Ross


42.85% McKean


57.15% 5094 52.70%



1. Henry Adams, History of the United States of America During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson [1903] (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1986), 145-47, 164, 190, 226, 354.

2. Lance Banning, review of The American Revolution of 1800 by Daniel Sisson, William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 32 (1975): 539; Dumas Malone, Jefferson the President: First Term, 1801-1805 (Boston: Little Brown, 1970), 27. Noble Cunningham and Jacob Cooke also used reviews of the Sisson book to denounce not only the book, but also the "Revolution of 1800" concept more generally. See Journal of American History 62 (Sept. 1975): 383-85; and American Historical Review 81(Oct. 1976): 964-65.

3. Richard E. Ellis, The Jeffersonian Crisis: Courts and Politics in the Young Republic (New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 1974).

4. Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley, 21 March 1801, in Thomas Jefferson, Writings, ed. Merrill D. Peterson (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1984, 1086.

5. L. F. Greene, ed., The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland (New York: G. W. Wood, 1845), 255, 263.

6. C. A. Browne, "Elder John Leland and the Mammoth Cheshire Cheese," Agricultural History 18 (1944): 145-153; L. H. Butterfield, "Elder John Leland, Jeffersonian Itinerant," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 62 (1952): 154-252.

7. "On the Election of Thomas Jefferson to the Presidential Chair of the United States," Baltimore American, 31 Jan. 1801.

8. The sheet music for "The People's Friend" is reproduced in Vera Brodsky Lawrence, Music for Patriots, Politicians, and Presidents: Harmonies and Discords of the First Hundred Years (New York: Macmillan, 1975), 169.

9. "Jefferson and Liberty, a Patriotic Song for the Glorious Fourth of March, 1801," Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser, 24 Jan. 1801. The lyrics are partially reprinted in Lawrence, Music for Patriots, Politicians, and Presidents, 165.

10. John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 14 June 1813, in Lester J. Cappon, ed., The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1988), 330.

11. Fisher Ames, "Laocoon II," in W. B. Allen, ed., Works of Fisher Ames, As Published by Seth Ames (Indianapolis: LibertyClassics, 1983), 207; David Brion Davis, ed., The Fear of Conspiracy: Images of Un-American Subversion From the Revolution to the Present (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1971), 35-54. These are merely random examples drawn from hundreds of similar statements.

12. Alexander Addison, Rise and Progress of Revolution: A Charge to the Grand Juries of the County Courts of the Fifth Circuit of the State of Pennsylvania, at December Sessions, 1800 (Whitehall, Pa.: William Young, 1801), 33-35. Voting statistics calculated from the Lampi Collection of Early American Election Data, American Antiquarian Society.

13. Theodore Dwight, An Oration Delivered at New-Haven on the 7th of July, A.D. 1801 before the Society of the Cincinnati for the State of Connecticut for the State of Connecticut, Assembled to Celebrate the Anniversary of American Independence (Hartford: Hudson and Goodwin, 1801), 6-7, 29-30.

14. Merrill D. Peterson, The Jefferson Image in the American Mind (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960), 87-99; Francis J. Grund, Aristocracy in America [1839] (New York: Harper & Row, 1959), 15, 16.

15. I do not mean to imply that libertarian doctrines of press freedom had completely triumphed, but only that there has never again been a systematic effort to use the federal government's power to silence political critics in peacetime, with the possible exception of certain countersubversion campaigns carried out during the Cold War.

16. Peterson, Jefferson Image in the American Mind, 89.

17. For the most recent popular account, see Bernard A. Weisberger, American Afire: Jefferson, Adams, and the Revolutionary Election of 1800 (New York: William Morrow, 2000).

18. Thomas Jefferson to Spencer Roane, 6 Sept. 1819, Jefferson to Priestley, 21 March 1801, Jefferson, Writings, 1425, 1086.

19. Jack N. Rakove, Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution (New York: Vintage, 1997), 89-90, 266.

20. Philadelphia Aurora, 24 Jan. 1801.

21. Lyrics reprinted in Lawrence, Music for Patriots, Politicians, and Presidents, 163, 165.

22. The most recent version of the article is Alan Taylor, "From Fathers to Friends of the People: Political Personae in the Early Republic," in Doron Ben-Atar and Barbara B. Oberg, eds., Federalists Reconsidered (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1998), 225-45, quotations on 225, 227, 228, 245. Many of the same themes are reflected in Taylor's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, William Cooper's Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early American Republic (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995).

23. Philip Lampi and Andrew Robertson, "The First Democracy Project: Politics, Participation, the Press and the First Party System," presentation at the annual meeting of the Social Science History Association, Pittsburgh, Pa., 28 Oct. 2000.

24. Chilton Williamson, American Suffrage: From Property to Democracy, 1760-1860 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1960), 138-222.

25. Charles O. Paullin, Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States (Washington & New York: Carnegie Institution and American Geographical Society, 1932), 126-27, and plates 124c, 125a; Alexander Keyssar, The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (New York: Basic Books, 2000), 29-30 and tables A.2 & A.3. Keyssar's appendix on state suffrage laws is now the most convenient and comprehensive source on the expansion of voting rights in various localities.

26. United States, Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970 (Washington: Government Printing Office), 1071.

27. Richard P. McCormick, "New Perspectives on Jacksonian Politics," American Historical Review 65 (Jan. 1960): 288-301; J. R. Pole, Political Representation in England and the Origins of the American Republic (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971), 543-64; David Hackett Fischer, The Revolution of American Conservatism: The Federalist Party in the Era of Jeffersonian Democracy (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), xiv-xv. The Pole data was originally published in a series of articles in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

28. For comments on the first parties from the perspective of the republican synthesis, see Ralph Ketcham, Presidents Above Party: The First American Presidency, 1789-1829 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1984); Paul Goodman, "The First American Party System," in William Nisbet Chambers and Walter Dean Burnham, eds., The American Party Systems: Stages of Political Development (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967); Robert E. Shalhope, "Southern Federalists and the First Party Syndrome," Reviews in American History 8 (1980): 45-51. For a highly Founder-centric view of the early parties, which follows a typical tactic of emphasizing the Founders in the early period and switching over to mid-level political leaders or voting in the 1820s, see Richard Hofstadter, The Idea of a Party System: The Rise of Legitimate Opposition in the United States, 1780-1840 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969). Another example of the tactic appears in Ronald P. Formisano, The Transformation of Political Culture: Massachusetts Parties, 1790s-1840s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983).

29. Quotation from Ronald P. Formisano, "Deferential-Participant Politics: The Early Republic's Political Culture, 1789-1840," American Political Science Review 68 (1974): 481. Besides this article, other summaries of the new political history's take on early American politics include: Paul Kleppner and others, The Evolution of American Electoral Systems (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1981); William E. Gienapp, "'Politics Seem To Enter into Everything': Political Culture in the North, 1840-1860," in Essays on American Antebellum Politics, 1840-1860, ed. Stephen E. Maizlish and John J. Kushma (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982): 14-69; Joel H. Silbey, The American Political Nation, 1838-1893 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1991), 5-32; Ronald P. Formisano, The Birth of Mass Political Parties: Michigan, 1827-1861 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1971); idem, Transformation of Political Culture; Richard L. McCormick, The Party Period and Public Policy: American Politics From the Age of Jackson to the Progressive Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986).

30. Quotations from Gienapp, "Politics Seem To Enter into Everything," 15; Silbey, American Political Nation, 31.

31. Gienapp, "Politics Seem To Enter into Everything," 15.

32. Glenn Altschuler and Stuart Blumin, Rude Republic: Americans and Their Politics in the Nineteenth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000); Michael Schudson, The Good Citizen: A History of American Civic Life (New York: Free Press, 1998), quotations on 5-6.

33. Gienapp, "Politics Seem To Enter into Everything," 15.

34. Formisano, "Deferential-Participant Politics," 482-83. For Burnham's turnout statistics, see Historical Statistics of the U.S. to 1970, 1067-1069, 1071-1072.

35. The chief example of this genre is Ronald P. Formisano, "Federalists and Republicans: Parties, Yes -- System, No," in Kleppner, et al., Evolution of American Electoral Systems, 33-76. James Roger Sharp, American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), is more truly interested in the politics of the earlier Early Republic than the new political historians were, but he accepts their teleology of party history and uses the term "proto-parties."

36. David Waldstreicher, In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism, 1776-1820 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1997), 218.

37. Recent studies of the 1790s have included Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993); and Sharp, American Politics in the Early Republic. I can think of nothing equivalent for the period just after 1800.

38. Overviews of the project were provided in: Andrew Robertson and Philip Lampi, "The Election of 1800 Revisited," paper presented at the American Historical Association annual meeting, Chicago, Ill., 9 January 2000; and "The First Democracy Project: Politics, Participation, the Press and the First Party System," presentation at the annual meeting of the Social Science History Association, Pittsburgh, Pa., 28 October 2000.

39. The information in the charts and tables comes from the Lampi Collection of Early American Electoral Data, provided courtesy of Andrew W. Robertson and Philip J. Lampi. In the next draft of this paper, more complete local-level data extending farther back into the 1790s will be used that should make the point more clearly.

40. Quotation and background information from John A. Munroe, Federalist Delaware, 1775-1815 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1954), 208-212, 231-38. See chart 3 below for turnout data.

41. Dwight, Oration Delivered at New Haven, 5.

42. This is all detailed in Fischer, Revolution of American Conservatism, which sometimes exaggerates the genuineness and effectiveness of the changes. My own views on the Federalist renaissance are more fully expressed in Jeffrey L. Pasley, "The Tyranny of Printers": Newspaper Politics in the Early American Republic (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2001), chap. 10.

43. See, for example, David R. Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (London & New York: Verso, 1991).

44. See the uncommonly judicious discussion of these general issues in Keyssar, Right to Vote, 53-60.

45. On Federalist strength in Congress, see Kenneth C. Martis, The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress, 1789-1989 (New York: Macmillan, 1989), 76-86.

46. Keyssar, Right to Vote, 81-171; Michael E. McGerr, The Decline of Popular Politics: The American North, 1865-1928 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986); J. Morgan Kousser, The Shaping of Southern Politics: Suffrage Restriction and the Establishment of the One-Party South (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974).

47. Wilson Carey McWilliams, "Parties as Civic Associations," in Gerald M. Pomper, ed., Party Renewal in America: Theory and Practice (New York: Praeger, 1980), 51-68

48. Early political songs can be sampled in Lawrence, Music for Patriots, Politicians, and Presidents; James J. Wilson, comp., A National Song-book, Being a Collection of Patriotic, Martial, and Naval Songs and Odes, Principally of American Composition (Trenton: James J. Wilson, 1813); Carl Brand, Presidential Campaign Songs, 1789-1996 (1999), Smithsonian Folkways CD 45051; Chestnut Brass Company and Friends, Hail to the Chief! American Political Marches, Songs & Dirges of the 1800s (1996), Sony Classical SFK 62485.

49. The discussion in the next few paragraphs draws heavily on Waldstreicher, In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes. For other works covering aspects of this festive political culture, see Peter Thompson, Rum Punch and Revolution: Taverngoing and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999); Simon P. Newman, Parades and the Politics of the Street: Festive Culture in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997); Len Travers, Celebrating the Fourth: Independence Day and the Rites of Nationalism in the Early Republic (Amherst, Mass.: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997). Lest others be blamed for my mistakes, the record should show that I am putting my own spin on some of this material, especially in linking festive political culture so closely with voting and party-building.

50. On this particular point, see Philip F. Detweiler, "The Changing Reputation of the Declaration of Independence: The First Fifty Years," William and Mary Quarterly , 3d ser., 19 (1962): 557-574.

51. For example, see Trenton True American, 29 July 1816.

52. The example discussed in the next few paragraphs is "Anniversary of American Independence," Pittsburgh Commonwealth, 7 Aug. 1805.

53. On the Pennsylvania schism and legal reform movement, see (among other sources) Ellis, Jeffersonian Crisis; and Sanford W. Higginbotham, The Keystone in the Democratic Arch: Pennsylvania Politics, 1800-1816 (Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1952).

54. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, ed. J.P. Mayer, trans. George Lawrence (New York: Doubleday, 1969), 518.

55. The arguments in the next few paragraphs are made and documented more fully in Pasley, Tyranny of Printers, chap. 1; and Jeffrey L. Pasley, "The Two National Gazettes: Newspapers and the Embodiment of American Political Parties," Early American Literature 35 (2000): 51-86.

56. Baltimore Whig, 8 Sept., 2, 5 Oct. 1813. For a similar case of candidate authentication, see Baltimore Patriot, 22 May 1815, 13, 22, 25, 31 Jan., 9 Sept. 1816.

57. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, revised ed. (London and New York: Verso, 1991), 62.

58. Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 518.

59. For the idea of editors as party whips, I am indebted to J. Mills Thornton III, Politics and Power in a Slave Society: Alabama, 1800-1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978), 129.

60. Based primarily on information gathered from Kathryn Allamong Jacob and Bruce A. Ragsdale, eds., Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-1989, Bicentennial ed. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1989). The three former editors in the Lincoln cabinet were: Cameron, Secretary of War; Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy; and Caleb Blood Smith, Secretary of the Interior. In addition, Vice President Hannibal Hamlin had once worked as a compositor.

61. Jotted down by author from Election Night 2000 coverage on the cable network MSNBC.

62. Donald H. Stewart, The Opposition Press of the Federalist Period (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1969), 3; Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, 19 Oct. 1823, Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (New York and London, 1892-1899), 10:275; "On the Utility of Education," Wilmington Mirror of the Times, 4 March 1801; Fisher Ames to Theodore Dwight, 19 March 1801, Allen, Works of Ames, 2:1410-1411.

63. Pasley, Tyranny of Printers, chap. 2.

64. On the various government policies benefitting newspapers, see Richard R. John, Spreading the News: The American Postal System From Franklin to Morse (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995); Culver H. Smith, The Press, Politics, and Patronage: The American Government's Use of Newspapers, 1789-1875 (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1977).

65. The discussion in the this and the next few paragraphs draws on Pasley, "Two National Gazettes."

66. Philadelphia National Gazette, 2 April 1792.

67. Ibid., 26 April 1792.

68. I am not claiming that they wanted a permanent party system at this point, which they did not, only that "republican" was being used to identify a particular group of politicians, rather than merely a philosophical preference.

69. Philadelphia National Gazette, 30 April 1792.

70. Ibid., 26 Sept. 1792.

71. Ibid., 22 Dec. 1792.

72. The basic narrative of the development of newspaper politics in the next few pages summarizes material presented in Pasley, Tyranny of Printers, chaps. 5-8. Many of the specific points and examples, however, are unique to this essay.

73. Michael Durey, Transatlantic Radicals and the Early American Republic (Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, 1997); idem, "Thomas Paine's Apostles: Radical Émigrés and the Triumph of Jeffersonian Republicanism," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 44 (1987): 661-688.

74. New York American Citizen and Commercial Advertiser, 10 Mar. 1800.

75. Wilmington Mirror of the Times, 8 Nov. 1800.

76. Philadelphia Aurora, 1 Sept. 1802; Salem Register, 10 Sept. 1802.

77. Trenton True American, 21 July 1801.

78. Walpole Political Observatory, 25 Feb. 1804 ff.

79. Examples of how quickly Aurora articles traveled: "The Two Reigns," Aurora, 27 Jan. 1801; Raleigh Register, 2 Feb. 1800; Pittsfield Sun, 10 Feb. 1801; Washington (Pa.) Herald of Liberty, 16 Feb. 1801. "Of Parties in the U.S.": Aurora, 17 Feb. 1801; Baltimore American, 20 Feb. 1801; Charleston City Gazette and Daily Advertiser, 8 March 1800. Reports of Senate contempt proceedings against William Duane: Aurora, 1 March 1800 ff; Washington (Pa.) Herald of Liberty, 17 March 1800 ff.; Lexington Kentucky Gazette, 27 March 1800; Raleigh Register, 1 April 1800 ff.

80. Hartford Connecticut Courant, 18 Aug. 1800.

81. Philadelphia Aurora, 23, 24, 26, 27 Jan., 3, 6 Feb. 1801; Baltimore American, 26, 31 Jan. 1801; Washington (Pa.) Herald of Liberty, 2 Feb. 1801; Lexington Kentucky Gazette, 9, 16 Feb. 1801.

82. Ibid.; Philadelphia Aurora, 2, 5, 22, 29 Jan., 9 Feb 1801.

83. Ibid., 21 Jan. 1801.

84. On Duane's demonization of New England, see Alan V. Briceland, "The Philadelphia Aurora, The New England Illuminati, and The Election of 1800," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 50 (1976): 3-36.

85. Trenton True American, 21 July 1801.

86. Samuel Miller, A Brief Retrospect of the Eighteenth Century (New York: T.& J. Swords, 1803), 2:247-51.

87. Ibid., 2:253.

88. Ibid., 2:252-53.

89. Ibid., 2:254-255.

90. Ibid., 255n.

91. Ibid., 255.

92. Levi Lincoln to Thomas Jefferson, 28 July 1801, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress; Pasley, Tyranny of Printers, chaps. 9-10.

93. Lancaster Intelligencer, 21 Aug. 1799; Sanford W. Higginbotham The Keystone in the Democratic Arch: Pennsylvania Politics 1800-1816 (Harrisburg: Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1952), 110, 231, 353; William Riddle, The Story of Lancaster: Old and New (Lancaster, 1917), 115-116..

94. Voting statistics calculated from the Lampi Collection of Early American Election Data, American Antiquarian Society.

95. Portland Eastern Argus, 6 Jan., 30 Aug., 16 Nov. 1804, 4 Jan., 30 Aug. 1805. See also Frederick Gardiner Fassett Jr., A History of Newspapers in the District of Maine, 1785-1820 ([Orono, ME]: University of Maine, 1932), 118-119, 195-201.

96. Voting data calculated from Lampi Collection, AAS.

97. For more details and full documentation on Charles Holt, see Pasley, Tyranny of Printers, chap. 6.

98. Hudson Wasp, 7 July 1802 ff., quotations in 7 July, 12 Aug. 1802.

99. New London Bee, June 23, 1802; Hudson Bee, 17 Aug. 1802 ff.

100. Hudson Bee, 3 May 1803; Hudson Balance, 3 May 1803; Lampi Collection, AAS.