The Conflict of Political Values in the Early American Republic

by Jeffrey L. Pasley
University of Missouri-Columbia

©2000 by Jeffrey L. Pasley

Please do not quote without permission of author.



[ABOUT THIS ARTICLE: This piece was completed in January 1996 and submitted to a major scholarly journal. During the review process, it was highly praised by three out of four readers, but it was not published in the end.  Someday I plan to revise and update it for another run at print publication. I am posting the earlier version here to allow those who have requested to read or cite the essay to do so. Any constructive comments that readers may wish to email would be appreciated.] 


Early in the summer of 1830, Matthew Livingston Davis finally sat down with a stack of books he had long been eager to read.  The tomes were Thomas Jefferson Randolph's Memoir, Correspondence and Miscellanies, from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, the recently released first publication of  Jefferson’s works.  For more than 30 years a politician, journalist and businessman in New York City, Davis had a more than scholarly interest in the writings of the late third President.  He hoped the books would help make sense of the bitterest disappointment of his life, the downfall of his hero, mentor, and close friend, Aaron Burr.  Now a ruin of his former self, Burr had sent Davis the work with appropriate passages marked for his attention.  Over four decades, Davis had been Burr's most effective lieutenant and most loyal friend,  by 1830, almost his sole remaining friend.  While living in European exile after his disgrace, Burr had kept in touch with only two people:  his daughter and Matthew Davis.[1] 

As a charter member of Jefferson's Republican party, Davis was shocked at what he read in the Memoirs.  Here was a Jefferson whose "malignity . . .  never ceased but with his last breath," whose writings teemed with a hatred "smothered, but rankling in his heart."  Here was Jefferson professing friendship to Burr while condemning him privately, accepting Burr as a political partner then later persecuting him.  Davis began to scribble furious commentaries on the Memoirs in his notebook, returning day after day to the task.  A few years later, he set to work on a book that would finally tell Burr's side of the story,  a project that the subject himself had long urged but which Davis had always refused -- until after he read Jefferson's writings.[2] 

The outlines of the story Davis brooded upon are familiar.  In 1800, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr were nearly peers on the national scene.  Jefferson was only one of a number of political leaders who could claim a place just below George Washington as a founder of the republic.  Jefferson was unquestionably the most nationally prominent figure associated with the Republican opposition of the 1790s, but his prestige was heavily concentrated in the South.  He needed the added luster and direct efforts of his running mate to win a narrow victory in the election of 1800.[3]  Thereafter, Burr might have been a future presidential prospect himself if not for the series of events that soon destroyed his reputation: the controversy surrounding the electoral deadlock of 1801, the murder of Alexander Hamilton, the ill-fated western expedition, and the ensuing treason trial.  Though he protested innocence in all these cases, Burr lived the rest of his life as a political and social pariah.[4]  As Jefferson rose to the rank of national icon, Burr's one-time popularity was forgotten and his accomplishments willfully misremembered.[5]

Matthew Livingston Davis knew better.  Davis knew from personal experience that the Sage had kept well away from direct involvement in political campaigning and party organization, and recent scholarship has demonstrated that Jefferson and most of the Early Republic’s other gentleman officeholders considered such activities neither respectable nor legitimate.[6]  Among the upper-class political leaders of the 1790s, Burr -- a prominent attorney, Princeton graduate, and former U.S. Senator -- was quite unusual in his willingness to engage directly in political campaigning, and one of the few such leaders who had any close involvement in the creation of the opposition party organization.[7]  As a printer who edited several Republican newspapers during the 1790s, Burr’s henchman Davis was much more typical of the early party organizers.  Genteel disdain for partisanship and practical politics left the work of organizing the party, promoting its views, and campaigning for its candidates to more obscure men -- newspaper editors, petty officeholders, and similar folk -- who inhabited lower levels of both the social structure and the political system.  As the parties developed, many of these people essentially became political professionals, people who made their livings as political organizers and spokesmen, or as a result of those activities.  Political professionals would come to dominate the American political system by the 1830s, but in Jefferson’s time, incipient professionals like Davis were relegated to a kind of political underground, vital to the functioning of the system but officially unacknowledged by most of its leaders.[8]

Nineteenth-century writers overlooked the contributions of this underworld, and twentieth-century historians have seen the early party struggle only a little more clearly than their predecessors.  Scholars from Claude G. Bowers to Merrill D. Peterson portrayed Jefferson himself as generalissimo of a Republican party "machine."  When the efforts of Burr and the political underground were acknowledged, as by the early political scientist Moisei Ostrogorski, they were generally cast in a sinister light.[9]  The rise of the "republican synthesis" in the 1960s and '70s placed Davis, Burr, and their confederates in an even more ignominious position.  Historians such as Richard Hofstadter, Ronald Formisano, and Paul Goodman correctly described the Founders' antipathy to political parties and their commitment to a politics of consensus. Yet some went on to reason -- based on the Founders' rhetoric and the low level of institutionalization that characterized the early parties -- that competitive popular politics did not even exist in the period to any significant degree.  A near-consensus congealed around this opinion by the late 1980s, and, until very recently, the study of early national politics languished as a result.[10] 

The tendency to downplay early party politics has left prevailing interpretations of the Early Republic's political culture incomplete.  How much confidence should we have in broad statements about the relative strength of "republicanism" and "liberalism," or about the dominant attitudes toward party organization, if the voices of those most deeply engaged in political conflict are excluded?  The historical profession's current take on early national politics corresponds rather closely with the self-serving and myopic view of the gentlemen statesmen at the top of the system, who generally found it more comfortable to assay the role of disinterested patriots than to acknowledge the partisanship being committed in their behalf.  Surely in this era of "history from the bottom up," such a skewed perspective requires correction.

Matthew Livingston Davis and his notebook on the writings of Jefferson (which to my knowledge no historian has used before) help provide a starting point for such a correction.  Read in the context of  Davis's life and career, the notebook reveals the full complexity of the republic's early political development.  In Jefferson’s letters, Davis fully confronted Jefferson’s classical republican political values for the first time and discovered how different those values were from his own.  "From early life to his death, he was a politician," one of Davis's obituaries read, and he never the impulse to hide or apologize for his partisanship.  As one of New York’s original Democratic Republicans, a key architect of Jefferson’s 1800 victory, and the principal founder of the Tammany Hall political machine, Davis looked back from the 1830s with pride on a long and (to his way of thinking) productive career.  The joy of Davis’s later years was lounging about the lobbies and taverns of Washington, D.C., regaling listeners with tales of his political adventures and acquaintances.[11]

Davis’s notebook reveals two major sources of this divergence of political values within Jefferson’s party.  First, positive attitudes toward party organization and other forms of political “liberalism” came much more easily to people who had never been part of the colonial or revolutionary political elite, and especially to people of Davis’s lower middling rank: small master artisans, ambitious journeymen, shopkeepers, clerks, and bottom-feeding lawyers.  A political system in which parties rather than personal reputations were the driving force, and in which it might be possible for party activists to earn a living for their work, was one in which men without large personal fortunes or prominent family connections could participate.  Second, positive attitudes about partisanship came more easily to natives of the Middle States.  Socially and economically much more heterogeneous than the Jefferson’s South or John Adams’s New England, the Middle States of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania had experienced continuous, organized political competition since the colonial period.  Political consensus was not expected or even valued to the same degree as elsewhere, because in the Middle States it was assumed that the various interests at large in society would naturally compete for power and benefits in the political arena.  While the 1790s brought political profound changes in the Middle States as elsewhere, partisan politics itself  was not new.  Among the politicians of the region, party canons of behavior -- including (to varying degrees) vigorous campaigning, party discipline, and the “spoils system” -- had been long been in force.[12]

While the case of Davis and his notebook do not settle the lengthy debate over the fundamental character of early American political culture, it does suggest that the debate may have rested on false premises. Jefferson was clearly more a “republican” and Davis more a “liberal,” but the fact that the latter was a long-time worker for the party headed by the former suggests that there was no single hegemonic political culture in early America.  Political values varied according to social class, occupation, region of the country, and level of the political system.  Republicanism and liberalism could be fused together, or overlay each other, and co-exist within the same party, the same community, or even the same person.[13]  Sometimes this mixing occurred without tension, but more often it led to sudden schisms and shocking turnabouts such as Davis and Burr experienced in their dealings with Jefferson.  The much-noted volatility of early American politics resulted as much from ideological confusion as from a passionate commitment to one creed or the other.[14]



Davis’s response to Jefferson’s letters must be seen in the context of his background and early career, which gave him a perspective on political life very different from Thomas Jefferson’s.  Jefferson  was born into the highest ranks of his society and entered politics as a birthright.  In his mind, party politics was linked with corruption, disorder, and creeping despotism.  Davis, by contrast, was born into a social stratum in which the only birthright was work.  He found in party politics not only an emotionally satisfying and absorbing activity, but also all the opportunities for wealth, social mobility and public honor he ever enjoyed.

Davis’s father, also called Matthew Davis, seems to have been an artisan of some kind, and, like many New Yorkers of the middling and lower sorts, his first involvement in politics came during the anti-British protests of the 1760s.  After fleeing occupied New York some time earlier in the war, the elder Matthew Davis lost his life fighting the British in June 1780.[15] After the war, his widow Phebe Davis operated a series of boarding houses in busy commercial districts such as Hanover Square. Boardinghouse life did not provide the younger Matthew Davis with either classical education or gentility, but it did imbue him with a love of the noisy, crowded atmosphere of taverns, print-shops, and hotels, the places in which he would spend his political life.[16] 

Eventually Phebe bound Matthew and his brother William out as apprentice printers.  Printing attracted many intelligent working-class boys because, unlike most artisanal occupations, it required literacy  and provided opportunities for reading and self-expression.  In Matthew Davis’s case, printing also had the additional allure of a chance for political involvement.  He became co-proprietor of Levi Wayland’s printing office in 1794, and immediately began injecting politics into the firm’s formerly blandly commercial output.  Davis and Wayland’s newspaper, the Evening Post, joined vociferously in defending the "self-created" Democratic Societies and preventing the fledgling Tammany Society from siding with the Washington administration.  At the same time, Davis began to take a direct part in Tammany and other artisan groups, overseeing the maneuvers that drove out Tammany's remaining Federalists and began the fraternity’s politicization.[17]

In doing all this, Davis followed a path trodden by many young Republicans during the 1790s.  Filled with ideological fervor and political ambition but lacking the social status or financial means for a conventional political career, Davis found a side-door into political life through the printing trade and its increasingly close connection to the emerging political parties.[18]  Davis was luckier than many printers in attracting the favorable attention of several older and more influential men, among them Commodore James Nicholson (father-in-law of Albert Gallatin) and Senator Aaron Burr.  After successful if controversial careers in the military and the law, Burr had recently decided to "commence politician" and was in the market for disciples.[19]  It was a heady experience for the young artisan Davis to hob-nob with an urbane gentleman, and he quickly became one of a group of  "young and ardent politicians" who devoted themselves to Burr and Burr’s political career.[20]

The firm of Davis and Wayland was swept away by rampaging inflation and a yellow fever epidemic only a year after Davis joined it.  Later publishing ventures were only slightly more successful.[21]  Like many other printers who tried making their living from political publishing, Davis did much better in the political half of his business, rising through the Republican ranks even while his printing firm foundered.  Davis’s growing reputation owed primarily to his efforts as an effective information-gatherer and innovative political organizer.  He proved particularly adept at orchestrating the proceedings of supposedly open and spontaneous public meetings.  As one New York editor put it in 1850,  Davis “was the father of all those nice modes of manufacturing public opinion, carrying primary meetings, getting his own candidate nominated, carrying a ward, a city, a county, or even a State, which were then new and novel” but came to dominate urban politics in the 19th century.[22] 

Davis’s innovations won elections and but they also had the larger purpose of opening political life to men of his own relatively plebeian origins. Before the 1798 elections, for instance, Davis created an organization called the Society for Free Debate.  Simultaneously a charitable organization and a vehicle for proselytizing the voters, the Society furnished a forum in which young, undereducated Republicans like Davis could develop their skills in oratory and political argumentation.  Before audiences drawn from the general public, Davis and his friends held forth on politically charged topics such as the defense of American shipping, imprisonment for debt, and the injuries caused by "the Influence of Wealth . . . to the liberties of mankind."[23]  Federalists sniffed that the group was little more than a "Jacobin Club in disguise," and lampooned the notion of political orations being made by political and social unknowns such as Davis and an "Irish Shoemaker" who also spoke one evening, but the society clearly made an effective training ground for young politicians.[24]  As Davis wrote in reviewing the Society's proceedings for his newspaper, not all the speakers did well, but many of them needed only "time and practice, to enable them to vie with the best."[25]  Davis soon made himself into one of the New York Republicans’ more effective speakers and earned numerous honors from the various organizations in which he was involved.[26]

Not long after the 1798 election, Burr gave Davis a more tangible kind of reward, a responsible position (either as cashier or a high-ranking clerk) at the Burr-controlled Manhattan Company bank.[27]  The job not only rescued Davis from his lackluster printing business, but also gave him a chance to surpass the status of artisan.  For the first time in his life, he had gentlemen rather than journeymen for coworkers, and a job that involved no physical labor or grimy clothing.  At a time when a "white collar" middle class was just beginning to emerge, Burr had given Davis a lift into it.[28]

Davis's new job also allowed him additional free time to pursue his activities as second-in-command of Burr’s tightly knit "little band" of politicians.  So loyal and so effective was this group, which also included John Swartwout, David Gelston, and William Peter Van Ness, that the "Burrites" remained a significant force in New York politics for years after Burr himself was disgraced.[29]  What was the nature of Burr's hold over his followers, that they would keep going long after their chief had been cut down?  Undoubtedly much of it was simply personal.  Over his lifetime, countless men and especially women succumbed to Burr's charms in one way or another.  (Davis, in his capacity as literary executor, saw to it that the details of Burr's many sexual seductions were never made public, by burning a trove of love letters from women of all ages and stations.)[30]

Yet ultimately more important for Davis were Burr's political attractions.  As Davis saw him, Burr represented a salutary alternative to the politics of personal patronage and family dynasty that had long dominated New York.  When Burr came on the scene, Davis wrote in his notebook, New York had been  "almost entirely under the influence and control of a few distinguished families, some of them in the strictest sense of the word aristocratic" -- the DeLanceys, Livingstons, Van Rensselaers, Schuylers, etc. -- and their clients.  Though political battles had always been hard fought, they mostly concerned which family could lay hold of the most offices and honors.  The only way for an outsider to rise in this system was to attach himself to one or another family "interest" by marriage or service.  (Alexander Hamilton had become a leader of the Van Rensselaer-Schuyler interest by marrying Gen. Philip Schuyler's daughter.)  In Davis's mind, Burr was an exception to this rule, one that might repeal the rule and open up honor and preferment to people outside the charmed circle of the leading families.  The Burrites saw their hero as a free agent in the struggle among the great families, a man who owed his prominence solely to the reputation he had built as a lawyer, soldier, and statesman.  For this reason, according to Davis, Burr frightened the Clintons and Livingstons, the family interests who had aligned themselves with the Republicans. Although Burr supported the same side of most issues, the Clintons and Livingstons considered him "a plebeian, whose talents, industry, and perseverance they respectively dreaded."[31]

It was Burr’s political work ethic that Davis and his friends particularly admired.  Unlike his fellow gentlemen, Davis believed, Burr won elections and legislative votes by out-organizing and out-working his opponents, rather than simply trusting to the power of reputation and personal influence.  These traits of Burr's showed most strongly during the New York City legislative campaign of 1800, during which Burr and Davis essentially delivered the presidency to Jefferson.  While other Republican notables such as De Witt Clinton "never appeared at the poll, but observed the most shameful indifference and inactivity," Burr invested weeks of planning and preparation and, when the election arrived, spent three days constantly at the polling places, haranguing voters, addressing crowds, and sometimes debating Federalists who showed up to counter him  (Davis matched his idol hour for hour, at one point campaigning 15 hours at a stretch without eating or sleeping.)  The admiring disciple bragged to Albert Gallatin that Burr’s efforts were the main cause of  the Republican victory in that election and had made him the most feared man in the party.  “The management and industry of Col. Burr,” Davis reported proudly, “has effected all that the friends of civil liberty could possibly desire.”  In Davis’s mind, Burr stood for a more democratic and “liberal” political culture, in which work and merit would be the basis for success.  Once the election was over, Davis was instrumental in delivering the Vice Presidency to Burr, prevailing on Commodore Nicholson and his son-in-law Gallatin to support Burr over George Clinton as Jefferson’s running mate.[32]

In the aftermath of this great victory, Davis witnessed what should have been Jefferson's gratitude to Aaron Burr curdle into reserve, distrust, and hatred, beginning with snubs in the matter of appointments and ending with Jefferson eagerly pursuing his former under­study's death in the treason trial at Richmond.[33]  As Davis saw it, the combination of Jefferson and Burr's New York enemies had put Burr to political death long before that.  Davis and Burr had always known that the Clintons and the Livingstons would turn against them someday, but Jefferson surprised them.  They knew that it was Jefferson who had first made overtures to Burr, and that in return, Burr and his friends had been effective and loyal supporters.[34]  The origins of their betrayal were what Davis primarily sought in Jefferson's letters.



Though no longer affiliated with Jefferson’s party by 1830, Matthew Davis still considered himself a Jeffersonian.  He found nothing in the letters to cast doubt on this commitment.  The Sage of Monticello remained "uniformly republican" throughout his life, and Davis disagreed with Jefferson critics -- such as the old, embittered Aaron Burr -- that the great man lacked ideological consistency and "moral firmness."[35]

Davis became one of Henry Clay’s chief New York supporters in the 1820s and 1830s, but this did not mean he abandoned Jeffersonianism.  Davis and many other former Republicans opposed Andrew Jackson but contended that they, rather than the Jacksonians, were the true inheritors of Jefferson’s old party.  While departing from Jefferson on many specific matters, Clay’s supporters believed that their Virginia-born candidate upheld Jefferson’s larger principles of republican government and national independence, both of which were threatened by Jackson’s autocratic leadership and hostility to the “American System” of economic development.  Eventually the Clayites joined with other anti-Jacksonians and took the name Whig for their new party to reclaim the republican high ground by linking themselves to the American revolutionary “whigs.”[36]

Despite Davis’s commitment to Jefferson’s principles, Thomas Jefferson the politician had not made a very reliable ally.  In reading the letters and comparing them with his own knowledge, Davis found that while Jefferson always stated his principles with forthrightness and eloquence, he exhibited an appalling lack of either candor or intellectual honesty when dealing with his political ambitions.  With a mixture of asperity and delight, Davis's notebook commentaries punctured the Sage of Monticello's aura of republican simplicity and selflessness.  "In relation to office," Davis observed, Jefferson "was very jesuitical, always disclaiming any wish to fill public stations, yet always ready to accept them."[37]  As a veteran of countless Republican political campaigns, Davis cast a skeptical eye on a letter Jefferson wrote in 1775, at the very beginning of his lengthy political career, longing for a time when “consistently with duty, I may withdraw myself totally from the public stage . . . banishing every desire of ever hearing what passes in the world."[38]

Davis found this statement totally unbelievable, and he discovered little as he read further in the letters to change his mind.  Jefferson's vow to George Washington in 1784 that he would "take no active part" in political matters for "the remaining portion of my life" elicited a snort of incredulity.  "What a commentary upon this was his political career from 1784 to the close of his life," Davis clucked after transcribing the passage.[39]  As Davis interpreted the letters, Jefferson’s “uniform practice" was to express indecision or distaste for public service whenever some office or honor came within reach, while secretly lusting for the prize and positioning himself to get it.  Though the "cases are numerous where Mr. Jefferson made professions of his love of retirement and an ardent hope that he would not be called into public life," Davis found only "one instance in which he declined accepting any office that was tendered to him."  That was during the Revolution, when Jefferson refused to become a Commissioner to France because of Mrs. Jefferson's ill health and his own fears of capture by the British.[40]

Davis could find many other examples in which Jefferson desperately wanted to fill an office but put himself through unbelievable contortions to deny the fact.  The New Yorker was bemused and exasperated by Jefferson's reactions to finishing second to John Adams in the 1796 presidential election.  Jefferson claimed to be pleased at the result, relieved that the Chief Magistrate's responsibilities were not his in such difficult times.  Yet "notwithstanding his  . . .  philosophy," Davis wrote, "[Jefferson] evinces great and evident chagrin."  Davis did not hold such a reaction against the third President.  Indeed, from Davis's vantage point, "This feeling was natural, and there would be no impropriety in avowing it."  What incensed Davis was "the cant about the satisfaction of filling the second, instead of the first place."[41]

Davis was at loss to explain the origins of Jefferson’s penchant for antipartisan cant.  He eventually concluded that Jefferson’s character was deeply flawed, that his former idol was simply a habitual liar and "unexampled" hypocrite who was incapable of dealing honestly with his own desires and ambitions.[42]  Davis devoted many hours to amassing evidence in support of this interpretation, complete with page citations from Jefferson's published letters.  He extended his search into many other topic areas besides office-seeking.

The most infuriating example of Jeffersonian duplicity was, of course, the Sage's dealings with Aaron Burr.  Jefferson came to know Burr during his tenure as Secretary of State, and well understood that the Republicans would need the New Yorker’s support if they were to win many votes outside Jefferson’s southern base.  For this very reason, Burr was put forward as Jefferson’s running mate in 1796, and the New York leader personally campaigned through the North in the fall of that year.  A potential schism arose when the Virginia electors, suspicious that Burr wanted the presidency for himself and that he did not really have southern interests at heart, diverted most of their promised second votes to Sam Adams instead.  After the election, Jefferson wrote Burr what Davis accurately describes as "a very long and friendly letter” apparently designed to show that Jefferson did not share his fellow Virginians’ antipathy.  Davis underlined a sentence in which Jefferson mentioned "evidencing my esteem” for Burr as his main motive for writing.[43]

Then Davis read Jefferson's letter to Burr from December 1800, when the possibility that the two of them would tie in the Electoral College had begun to dawn.  This letter contained a paean to Burr's abilities and lamented in highly colored terms the "chasm" that would be left in Jefferson's planned administration by Burr serving as vice-president.  There was nobody else available who could "inspire unbounded confidence in the public mind" as Burr could, Jefferson wrote.  Davis pronounced this letter inexplicable.  "No circumstance rendered necessary the professions which [the letter] contains," Davis fumed, "and if they were not sincere, then they are the most profligate and unprincipled."  How could Jefferson write of Burr's absence from his administration when there "was not an intelligent politician in the nation, of any party" who did not expect Burr to win the vice presidency as Jefferson's running mate?[44]

Davis read between the letter's lines that Jefferson feared a contest in the House with Burr, but even he failed to comprehend the depth of Jefferson's duplicity in this case.  Jefferson in fact planned no substantive role at all for Burr in the coming administration, even if he was vice president, and had written only to elicit Burr's withdrawal from the presidential contest.  Far from scheming to steal the prize from Jefferson, Burr took the letter at face value and immediately wrote back offering to resign the vice presidency and take one of the other Cabinet posts if Jefferson thought best.[45]

Jefferson's letters to Burr of 1797 and 1800 were cast in an appalling light by what Davis read in Volume Four of T.J. Randolph's Memoir, which contained the collection of memoranda and notes known as the "Anas."  In a note dated January 26, 1804, when Jefferson and Burr were in the process of openly breaking with each other, Davis read Jefferson's claim that he had distrusted Burr almost from the moment they met and "habitually cautioned Mr. Madison against trusting him too much."  The evidence in Jefferson's letters seemed to prove one of two propositions to be true, neither of them very complimentary to the Apostle of Democracy's character.  Either Jefferson had truly "entertained a high regard for Col. Burr, and placed confidence in him" before 1801, then later revised the historical record and lied to friends about the fact; or (as appears more likely) Jefferson had "unnecessarily and uninvited, made professions that were false and deceptive" to win Burr's support, then treacherously cast his ally aside.[46]  Searching for a motive behind Jefferson's malevolence, Davis concluded that Jefferson had planned for years before 1800 not only to be president, but also to be succeeded by his best friend, James Madison.  Burr was a rival to both of them.[47]

Yet as committed as he was to the notion of Jefferson's personal animus toward Burr, Davis could not help but notice that there was a larger pattern to Jefferson's malignity: the Sage exhibited a strong distaste for the type of partisanship and political work at which Davis and Burr excelled.  One example that Davis noted was Jefferson's contradictory attitude toward political newspapers.  Newspapers had come to play an increasingly central role in the American political system over the course of Jeffer­son's career.  They had given countless young Jeffersonians like Davis their initial access to political life and had done not a little to make Jefferson president.  After 1800, it became axiomatic for Davis and most other political leaders that no political movement could be successful without a newspaper.  When the Burrites’ newspaper was about to go under in 1805, Davis declared that they would be “uninfluential atoms” without it: “there would be no rallying point” and other politicians would have only contempt for a party faction that could not even support a newspaper.[48]

Thus Davis was surprised and stung by the  numerous occasions in the letters in which Jefferson "claims for himself the great merit that he never wrote for newspapers."  Davis doubted the veracity of these disclaimers, but he also found that, even if it were true that Jefferson never soiled his hands at the political press, “These letters prove incontestably, that he continually urged others to do it, and that he assisted in supplying both facts and arguments for the purpose.  On Mr. Madison he principally relied when an appeal, through the medium of newspapers, became necessary in relation to any point he wished to carry. . . .  There is nothing  . . .  wrong in this; but  . . .  he makes it wrong by his continued efforts to impress the public that he was not in any way connected with newspapers. . . .”  Davis then cited several of Jefferson's now-famous pronun­cia­mentos on the power of the press, and examples, such as the case of Philip Freneau's National Gazette, in which the Virginia leader had covertly sought to encourage or subsidize the political press.  In Davis's judgment (one in which scholars have concurred), "There was no man living who placed more reliance on newspapers than Mr. Jeffer­son."[49]

Davis also marveled at Jefferson's double standard on the question of political parties.  The letters made it clear that the great Virginian "disdained being a party man."[50]  For instance, there was Jefferson's famous remark to Francis Hopkinson that he “never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in any thing else . . . .  Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent.  If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.”[51]  Davis had a hard time reconciling such eloquent protestations with the fact that he had per­sonally helped organize a political party that considered Jefferson its great leader and symbol.  But party appeared to be another field for Jeffersonian hypocrisy, especially when it came to such practical aspects as party loyalty and discipline.  "It would appear," wrote Davis, "that he never was favorable to anything like party discipline insofar as he was to be governed by it."  In lesser men, on the other hand, party discipline was not only accep­table, but desirable.  Davis cited the example of Jefferson's presidency, during which he had very effectively kept his congressional supporters in line: “At the same time, it is within my own knowledge, that during [Jefferson's] presidency, he kept the democratic party united on all great and important measures, by his own interference, personally;  always sending for the  . . .  discontented Members of Congress, and making them feel, that their personal interest, as well their political influence, required that they should be kept strictly within the party lines of demarcation.”[52]

Jefferson's "jesuitical" approach to practical politics irritated Davis profoundly.  The Sage had been willing to reap the benefits of political innova­tions such as party organization and the partisan press but unwilling to accept responsibility for them.  Disavowing the activities conducted on his behalf,  Jefferson could not stomach a man like Burr, who made no apologies for working in partisan politics.  The very qualities in Burr that Davis had found so admirable and that had done so much to win the election of 1800 Jefferson seemed to find shameful.

Reading the letters reminded Davis of his own personal encounter with Jefferson.  In the summer of 1801, Davis had made a fateful journey to Monticello that formed a key moment in the break between Jefferson and Burr and in the confrontation between two of the Republican party's divergent value systems.[53]

With Republican victory certain in late 1800, Davis, Burr, and friends turned their thoughts to distributing the federal offices that they expected to become available in their area once Jefferson swept out the Federalists.  “Rotation in office” had long been practiced by incoming regimes in New York, and the state’s Republican leaders never doubted that the new President would clear the Federalists from the national government payroll.[54]  Controlling the distribution of federal offices was critical to the future plans of Burr and Davis.  Burr hoped to become the New York party's undisputed leader and Davis needed a new employer because Burr's control over the Manhattan Company was waning.  Davis also craved the public recognition and further upward mobility that even a modest federal appointment would confer.[55]  Burr inundated President Jefferson and Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin with suggestions and recommenda­tions regarding federal appointments.  One of the persons most frequently mentioned,  for a potentially lucrative job as Naval Officer in the New York custom house, was Matthew Davis.  Burr couched his appointment advice in frankly partisan language, and did not confine himself to New York.  In all, Burr submitted suggested appointments for eight states plus the Northwest Territory.[56]

The case that Burr and others made for Davis reflected the partisan values of New York and of the political underworld in which Davis moved.  There was no shame in being a party man, Davis's supporters argued; on the contrary, a man who gave loyal and effective service to the party deserved to be sustained and rewarded.  Davis's recommendations affirmed his ability to perform the duties of the office, but they emphasized his political abilities and principles.  "Mr. Davis is one of those active Citizens who have been instrumental in the late triumphant election  . . . ," wrote Isaac Ledyard.  "He has very considerable  . . .  decisiveness of mind, & promptitude of action.”  Another recommender predicted that Davis's appointment would have "the most happy consequences [for] the republican interest."[57]  Yet Davis's recommenders did not see his appointment simply as a selfish act to advance the party.  His exertions on behalf of the Republican had contributed to the public weal and deserved recognition.  "Our citizens are under great obligations to him for his Zeal and industry in the common cause," argued Ezekiel Robins.[58]

With the recent campaign fresh in memory, Davis’s appointment was a considered a foregone conclusion in New York political circles.  Yet as the spring of 1801 turned to summer, Davis and Burr began to suspect that something was amiss.  Several other customs officers were replaced according to their wishes, but the incumbent Naval Officer remained untouched.[59]  Davis and Burr’s suspicions were well founded. Against the imprecations of many in the Republican rank and file, the new President was trying to pursue a moderate course in removing Federalist officials.  Jefferson deemed this approach critical to his larger goal of ending the party conflict: he planned to convert the moderate Federa­lists, destroy the Federalist party’s base of support, and thus eliminate the need for continued party competition.  He pledged to remove only those Federalists against whom there was some cause of complaint other than mere political opinion. Where removals were  made, as whiggish public admini­stration historian Leonard White put it, the Republican replacements would come "from the same reputable social class of gentlemen relied on by the Federalists," with some added emphasis on college graduates.[60]

Appointing Davis would have seriously compromised Jeffer­son's removal policies.  Jefferson took very seriously warnings (not from Burrites) that Davis might not be "a respectable appointment in the public estimation."[61]  Though nominally a supporter of Davis’s, Albert Gallatin had to admit that there were grave objections to Burr's aide, namely, that "he has not heretofore moved in a very elevated sphere" and had very little formal education.[62]  Jefferson and Gallatin also understood that Davis and Burr were expert practitioners of the aggressive style of politics for which New York was known.  Putting Davis in the Naval Office would be tantamount to an endorsement of New York partisan­ship, at a time when the administration was already embarrassed by the alacrity and thoroughness with which the victorious New York Republicans were purging Federalists.  However, Davis’s lack of gentility seems to have been the primary sticking point: other members of Burr’s “little band,” with more education and more respectable backgrounds, had already received appointments, but in choosing a Naval Officer, Jefferson began turning to Burr’s covertly hostile allies, the Clintons and the Livingstons, for advice.  A Clintonian named Samuel Osgood eventually got the job.[63]

By midsummer, the possibility of Davis’s rejection had begun to dawn in New York, and hardly any politician there failed to perceive it as a direct and intentional affront to Burr.  Gallatin predicted that Davis’s rejection would be taken as a "declaration of war" on Burr, but the president seemed little moved.[64]  Eventually Davis’s anxiety increased to the point that he took a rash step.  Gathering a large number of recommendations and peti­tions in his favor from other New York Republicans, he set out on a desperate mission to Monticello itself, determined to solicit the President personally and save his appointment.  He stopped in Washington en route to dun Gallatin for a letter of introduction.  The Treasury Secretary anxiously entreated the young man not to invade Jefferson's privacy, but failed to turn him back..[65]  After Davis left, Gallatin sent his chief a lengthy apology, admitting that the New Yorker was more ill-bred than he had previously supposed:  " want of early education and mixing with the world I ascribe his want of a sense of propriety on this occasion, and his going is the worst thing I have known of him."[66]

Davis arrived at Monticello a few days later and lingered for a holiday of several mortifying days.  Having disturbed the tranquillity of Jefferson's aerie, the brazen New Yorker found himself suddenly bashful.  It took more than a day for Davis to find the nerve to state his business, and Jefferson was happy to let his guest to suffer, studiously avoiding the subject of the appointment and making Davis as uncomfortable as possible.  A Boston newspaper had recently attacked Jefferson for inviting Thomas Paine, disgraced in some circles for his antireligious writings, to return to the United States.  At the breakfast table one morning, the President thrust a copy of the paper into Davis's hands.  "Well, sir, what do you think of that?" Jefferson asked pointedly, apparently holding Davis responsible for the sins of all his brother printers.  While the embarrassed Davis cast about for an answer, Jefferson launched into a lengthy defense of his treatment of Paine, ending the tirade with a cryptic reference to the reason for Davis's visit:  "I have no idea of abandoning old friends for new."[67]  Apparently, Jefferson expected Davis to have faith in his leader's gratitude despite his apparent snubs.

When the young printer finally revealed his business, Jefferson said only that nothing would be decided in the case until the Cabinet could meet in Washington.[68]  Many years later, New York politicians told an anecdote concerning Davis and Jefferson's conversation that well captured its tenor.  According to this story, Davis was telling Jefferson of the important role that New York had played in his election, when the philosopher-president suddenly reached out his hand and caught a large fly.  Holding the wriggling insect between the presidential fingers, Jefferson remarked to Davis on the great and disproportionate size of its head in relation to its body.  Unsure whether the fly was meant to symbolize New York or himself, but suspecting the latter, Davis immediately left off pressing his case and soon after began his long journey home.[69]

  Needless to say, Davis's visit to Monticello was a terrible mistake.  None of the many other office seekers of 1801 dared to bring the scramble for office into Jefferson’s own home.  The visit had only confirmed Jefferson’s impressions that Davis lacked breeding and that Burr and his followers carried partisanship to distasteful extremes.[70]  Whatever the disjunc­tions between his ideas and behavior, Jefferson truly believed the office should seek the man, but in this case, the man traveled 300 miles uninvited to seek the office.  Could a virtuous republican be capable of such unseemly avidity for a government salary?  Jefferson apparently thought not, and Matthew Livingston Davis would have to wait until the Zachary Taylor administration to get his federal appointment.[71]

Jefferson's “declaration of war” on Burr allowed his New York enemies to quickly close in for the kill.  After his return from Virginia, Davis was warned by James Cheetham, editor of the American Citizen (the city’s only Republican daily newspaper) that a major attack on Burr was planned.  For 1,500 to 2,000 dollars, Cheetham offered to defend Burr and turn his paper against Jefferson, the Clintons, and the Living­stons.  To his everlasting regret, Davis rejected the proposition, and Cheetham enlisted with the Vice President's enemies. “If Cheetham had been purchased,” Davis sighed later in his notebook.  “I have no doubt the future destiny of Mr. Burr would have been different, through life.”[72]  Cheetham launched the opening salvos in a pamphlet war that would last almost two years and reduce Burr's reputation, as Davis put it, "from the proud eminence he once enjoyed to a condition more mortifying and more prostrate than any distinguished man has ever experienced in the United States."[73]  The attacks revolved around Burr's alleged collusion with the Federalists, beginning with the charge that he had suppressed a book because it was too critical of John Adams (in reality Burr found the work so inaccurate and scurrilous that it would backfire on the Republicans) and escalating to fabricated specifics about Burr's behavior during the electoral tie of 1801.  Davis and the other Burrites fought back, but to little avail.[74]  Burr's political standing was mortally wounded by the controversy.  Politically isolated and increasingly desperate, the Vice President stumbled into the well-known misadven­tures that destroyed him forever.



Perhaps more than any single incident, Davis's Monticello trip and the events surrounding it encapsulate the wide divergence in political values that had emerged between men at different levels of the early party conflict and in different regions of the country.  Davis’s notebook makes it clear that he never grasped the nature of the faux pas he had com­mitted or what the basis of Jefferson's distrust might have been, other than malevolence and his apparent hypocrisy with regard to partisanship and his own political ambitions.

With the hindsight provided by historians espousing the "republican synthesis," we can see that many of the Jefferson statements and actions that puzzled Davis merely reflected the conventional political values of Jefferson’s class, era, and region. In the genteel Virginia political culture in which Jefferson came of age, a prospective officeholder was expected to declare his lack of ambition for office, and an artful two-facedness regarding one’s own fortunes was almost a requirement for political success.  The planter who aspired to office was expected to play the role of disinterested statesman and lord of the manor, emerging from his agricultural seclusion only when duty irresistibly called.  Yet at the same time, few aspirants could win office without engaging in many activities that today would be labeled campaigning:  riding the countryside to visit neighbors, consorting familiarly with men of all classes on "court day," and hosting lavish barbecues for the voters.  The successful Virginia office-seeker had to strike a delicate balance between rhetorical complacency and strenuous activity in his own cause.  It helped to have friends or followers who could campaign on his behalf while insulating the candidate from the appearance of unseemly partisanship and ambition.  In just this way, Aaron Burr, Matthew Davis and countless others were highly useful to Jefferson.[75]

Yet while the Virginia political tradition may have allowed some competition among individuals and some campaign-like activities, it was still deeply committed to classical republican values.  Campaigning became very threatening in the context of permanently organized, continually competing parties, groups devoted to their own interests rather than the good of the community.  The planter gentry strongly valued consensus on all fundamental matters and considered any sustained dissent from that consensus dangerous.[76]  Jefferson's parti­sanship during the 1790s was rooted in the idea that the Federa­lists were an illegitimate "faction" that had happened to take control of the government.  Convinced that this faction was bent on recon­structing the American political economy along British lines, Jefferson was willing to pursue extraordinary means to stop it, but even in this extreme case,  Jefferson tolerated partisan political behavior only so long as it did not involve a partisan's personal fortunes and so long as the party did not become an end in itself.  This idea can be discerned in what was arguably the strongest pro-party statement Jefferson ever made, penned in 1795: “Were parties to be divided merely by greediness for office, as in England, to take part in either would be unworthy of a reasonable or a moral man, but where the principle of dif­ference is as substantial and as strongly pronounced as that between the republicans & the Monocrats of our country, I hold it as honorable to take a firm & decided part, and as immoral to pursue a middle line, as between the parties of Honest men, & Rogues, into which every country is divided.”[77]  Jefferson's attitudes were widely shared -- and practiced -- by his fellow gentlemen leaders, especially those from the South and New England.[78] 

From Matthew Livingston Davis’s point of view,  Jefferson’s classical republican approach to party and political ambition seemed both mystifying and dishonorable.  Other New Yorkers agreed.  In his notes, Davis approvingly recalled George Clinton's reaction when Burr and friends asked him to stand for the legislature in support of Jefferson in 1800.  Pressed for an answer, the blunt old governor became "violently enraged."  Clinton had thrown his forces behind Jefferson in 1796 but had been deeply offended by the candidate's apparent ingratitude and lack of devotion to the party after the election.  "`If you, Sir, was the candidate for President, I would serve with pleasure," Clinton had fumed to Burr, "but to promote the election of Mr. Jefferson, I will not. . . ."  The source of Clinton’s irritation was Jefferson's post-election support for the victor John Adams, whom Republicans far and wide had castigated in the campaign as a bloated monarchist and worse: “We were unsuccessful [in 1796], but [Jefferson] was elected Vice President.  What he did do?  His first act in the Senate was, to make a  damned time serving trimming speech, in which he declared, that it was a great pleasure to him, to have an opportunity of serving his country under such a tried patriot as John Adams, which was saying to his friends, ` -- I'm in; kiss my          and go to H ll.’”[79]

While classical republican rhetoric and concerns were by no means absent from the Middle States, or from the strata of lower-middle-class political activists in which Davis traveled, they were clearly subordinate to a decidedly liberal pattern of political thought and, especially, behavior.  Republicanism described the world accurately only in political societies that were less heterogeneous and chaotic than those of the Middle States.  There were simply too many conflicting interests and diverse social groups in New York and Pennsylvania for a single, virtuous course of action ever to be clear.  Republicanism was also a discourse that favored upper-class political leadership.  Only the wealthy and prominent possessed the material independence and public prestige to exercise virtue and disinterestedness;  only those without a need for money or social mobility could be immune to the attraction of public honors and public salaries.  On neither count did Matthew Davis and his fellow campaigners have much use for classical republican political culture.  They could not afford the luxury of holding themselves “above party.”[80]

Ironically, Jefferson’s refusal to give Davis an appointment -- out of a desire to keep the  corruption of  partisan politics out of  his administration -- forced the former printer into money-making activities that were much more corrupt.  Davis spent much of the rest of his life trading on his political connections and on inside knowledge gained from politics.  Following Burr's example, he involved himself in a number of political banking schemes, speculating in bank stock and working behind the scenes to have new banks chartered.  During the War of 1812, he set up a lucrative military contracting business, and, thanks to friendship with the shady but Republican financier Jacob Barker, became a broker in government bonds.  After the war, Barker secured him a position as secretary of an insurance company that failed in 1826 amid charges that Barker, Davis, and others connected with Tammany Hall had conspired to siphon millions out of the company.[81]

Matthew Livingston Davis misunderstood much of what he read in Jefferson’s letters, and filled his notebooks with bitter and semi-accurate diatribes.  Yet the misunderstandings between Jefferson and the New Yorkers -- which were matched by similar misunderstandings between Jefferson and Pennsylvania Republican activists such as John Beckley and William Duane -- stemmed from a very important aspect of Jeffersonian politics that historians of the Early Republic’s political culture have often missed.  Thomas Jefferson and other high leaders from the South and New England, whose statements are used to diminish the significance of parties in the early national period and to proclaim the hegemony of classical republicanism, operated according to political values and customs completely different from those observed by their erstwhile allies in other regions and at other levels of the political system.  Jefferson’s attempt at rebuilding a patriotic consensus in 1801 was seen by many of his allies and followers as a cowardly act of betrayal.  It was inevitable that the diverging values within the Republican party would come into conflict with each other at some point, and Davis and Burr became two of the early casualties.  Historians of early American political culture should take into account the views of the losers as well as the winners of the Republican struggles after 1800.[82]

[1] Matthew Livingston Davis to Aaron Burr, Albany, 18 March 1830, Political Correspondence and Public Papers of Aaron Burr, ed. Mary-Jo Kline (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983), 2:1200-1202; Matthew L. Davis, Memoirs of Aaron Burr, with Miscellaneous Selections from His Correspondence (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1837), 1: iii; and Harriet A. Weed, ed., Autobiography of Thurlow Weed  (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1884), 415.

The only secondary account of Davis is Jerome Mushkat, "Matthew Livingston Davis and the Political Legacy of Aaron Burr," New-York Historical Society Quarterly 59 (April 1975): 123-148.  See also the references to Davis's political activities in Jerome Mushkat, Tammany: The Evolution of a Political Machine, 1789-1865 (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1971), 22-45, 49, 54, 69, 81, 107, 122, 125-126, 142-143, 150, 175, 223, 374-375; Howard B. Rock, Artisans of the New Republic: The Tradesmen of New York City in the Age of Jefferson (New York: New York University Press, 1979), 31, 66-67, 127-129, 166; and Alfred F. Young, The Democratic Republicans of New York: The Origins, 1763-1797 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1967), 431, 472.

[2] Davis, Memoirs of Burr, 2:139, 1: iii-vi.  Davis's notes can be found in Volume 57 of the Rufus King Papers, New-York Historical Society.

[3] Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., The Jeffersonian Republicans: The Formation of Party Organization, 1789-1801 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1957), 176-185, 198-199; and Milton Lomask, Aaron Burr: The Years from Princeton to Vice President, 1756-1805 (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux), 231-267.

[4] See ibid.; and Milton Lomask, Aaron Burr: The Conspiracy and the Years of Exile, 1805-1836 (New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 1982).

[5] Merrill D. Peterson, The Jefferson Image in the American Mind (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960), 3-17, 67-161.

[6] Among other works, see Ralph Ketcham, Presidents Above Party: The First American Presidency, 1789-1829 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984); Ronald P. Formisano, "Deferential-Participant Politics: The Early Republic's Political Culture, 1789-1840," American Political Science Review 68 (June 1974): 473-487; idem, The Transformation of Political Culture: Mas­sachusetts Parties, 1790s-1850s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983), 3-148; and 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), 56-89.

[7] Mary-Jo Kline, "Aaron Burr as a Symbol of Corruption in the New Republic," in Before Water­gate: Problems of Corruption in American Society, ed. Abraham S. Eisenstadt et al (Brooklyn: Brooklyn College Press, 1978), 69-77.

[8] These arguments are fully documented in Jeffrey L. Pasley, "`Artful and Designing Men': Political Professionalism in the Early American Republic, 1775-1820"  (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1993).

[9] On Bowers, Charles Beard, and other early twentieth-century historians, see Peterson, Jefferson Image, 309-314, 347-376.  For more recent examples of a similar interpretation, see Merrill Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation: A Biography  (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970), 569-570, 574-575, 625-651; and Stephen G. Kurtz, The Presidency of John Adams: The Collapse of Federalism, 1795-1800 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1957), 359-367, 395-402.  Partial exceptions include Noble Cunningham, Jeffersonian Republicans; and Dumas Malone, Thomas Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty (Boston: Little Brown, 1962), especially xvii-xx.  In his very detailed account of practical Republican politics, Cunningham recounts many of the Republican political underground’s efforts, but also makes the questionable argument that James Madison, an even more inveterate loather of party politics than Jefferson, was the real Republican commander  Two other older works that give some attention to the political underground are Joseph Charles, The Origins of the American Party System (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1956); and William Nisbet Chambers,  Political Parties in a New Nation: The American Experience, 1776-1809 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963).  These works seem to have had little impact on recent syntheses of this period (see note 10 below).  One of the very few recent works told from the perspective of the political underground is Michael Durey, "With the Hammer of Truth": James Thomson Callender and America's Early National Heroes (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1990).  For works that acknowledge the political underground, but see its denizens as corrupt “hacks,” see Moisei Ostrogorski, Democracy and the Organization of Political Parties, trans. Frederick Clarke (New York: Macmillan Co., 1902), 2:39-79; and Joyce Appleby, Capitalism and a New Social Order: The Republican Vision of the 1790s (New York: New York University Press, 1984), 77.

Nearly all writers on the election of 1800 have acknowledged the influence of  newspaper editors at some level.  One of the few really perceptive accounts of the subject can be found in William David Sloan's articles  "The Early Party Press: The Newspaper Role in American Politics, 1789-1812," Journalism History  9 (Spring 1982): 18-24; and "`Purse and Pen:' Party-Press Relationships, 1789-1816," American Jour­nalism 6 (1989): 103-127.  The best single work on a Republican newspaper editor is Kim Tousley Phillips, "William Duane, Revolutionary Editor" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1968).

[10] See the literature reviewed in Robert E. Shalhope, "Toward a Republican Synthesis: The Emergence of an Understanding of Republicanism in American Historiography," William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser. 29 (1972): 49‑80; and idem, "Republicanism and Early American Historiography, William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser. 39 (April 1982): 334-356.  Works that apply the "republican synthesis" to the early republic include Hofstadter, Idea of a Party System; Ralph Ketcham, Presidents Above Party; Robert E. Shalhope, The Roots of Democracy: American Thought and Culture, 1760-1800 (Boston: Twayne, 1990); Lance Banning, The Jeffersonian Persuasion: Evolution of a Party Ideology  (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1978); Daniel Sisson, The American Revolution of 1800  (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1974); and Linda K. Kerber, Federalists in Dissent: Imagery and Ideology in Jeffersonian America, 2d ed. (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1980).

For extreme versions of the view that the "first party system" did not exist, see Robert E. Shalhope, "Southern Federalists and the First Party Syndrome." Reviews in American History  8 (March 1980): 45-51; Ronald P. Formisano, "Federalists and Republicans: Parties, Yes ‑‑ System, No," in Paul Kleppner, et al, The Evolution of American Electoral Systems (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1981), 33‑76; and  Joel H. Silbey, The American Political Nation, 1838-1893 (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1991), 10‑26.  Formisano and Silbey utilized the republican synthesis, but their perspective was somewhat different from early Americanists such as Goodman, Ketcham, and Shalhope.  As quantitative historians whose work focused on the mid-19th century, they measured the early parties according to the standards of the 1840s and 1850s, when party politics had become routine and election campaigns a highly participatory form of popular entertainment.  Formisano concluded that while the Republicans and Federalists may have been parties, they did not compete in a fully developed party system.  This semantic but accurate distinction would have been unobjectionable if not for its impact on the field: since the early 1970s (excepting the early chapters of Formisano’s Transformation of Political Culture) political historians and political scientists have mostly abandoned study of party politics before 1828, treating the early period as a confusing and uninteresting prelude to later eras when party politics came in more familiar -- and more easily quantifiable -- packages.  In contrast to Formisano and Silbey, the older quantitative historian Richard P. McCormick gave the early period its due, providing statistical evidence that voter turnout and other indices of party development were actually quite high in most locales before 1824.  See Richard P. McCormick, "New Perspectives on Jacksonian Politics," American Historical Review  65 (1960): 288-301; and idem,  The Second American Party System: Party Formation in the Jacksonian Era (New York: Norton, 1973), 3-31.

A highly influential attack on the significance of early American politics, from yet another angle, was James Sterling Young,  The Washington Community, 1800-1828 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1966).  For a systematic demolition of Young’s central contention that congressmen voted according to boardinghouse group rather than partisan affiliation, see Allan G. Bogue and Mark Paul Marlaire, "Of Mess and Men: The Boardinghouse and Congressional Voting, 1821-1842," American Journal of Political Science  19 (1975): 207-238.  For a recent refutation of Young’s larger theme that no truly national political arena existed in the Early Republic, see Donald J. Ratcliffe, "Antimasonry and Partisanship in Greater New England, 1826-1836," Journal of the Early Republic 15 (1995): 199-239.  Many aspects of Young’s interpretation are effectively challenged in Noble E. Cunningham, Jr. The Process of Government Under Jefferson (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1978).

One of the few efforts to reassert the significance of early party politics as the republican synthesis was forming was Kim T. Phillips, "William Duane, Philadelphia's Democratic Republicans, and the Origins of Modern Politics," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 101 (1977): 365-387.  Phillips was a voice crying in the wilderness, but very recently, there have been signs that the chill may be thawing.  Three recent works that take early national politics somewhat more seriously while paying very little attention to the work of low-level campaigners like Davis are Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick, The Age of Federalism (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993); James Roger Sharp,  American Politics in the Early Republic: The New Nation in Crisis (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993); and Andrew R. L. Cayton,  The Frontier Republic: Ideology and Politics in the Ohio Country, 1780-1825 (Kent, Oh.: Kent State University Press, 1986).  A recent study that does look into the minutiae of early practical politics, and finds activities contradicting the republican synthesis, is Alan Taylor, "'The Art of Hook and Snivey': Political Culture in Upstate New York During the 1790s," Journal of American History 79 (1993): 1371-1396.

[11] Quotation from Littell's Living Age 26 (3 August 1850): 217-218. On Davis as a Washington raconteur, see Henry van der Lyn, Sr., to Henry van der Lyn, Jr., Washington, 6, 11 December 1836, Henry van der Lyn Papers, New-York Historical Society.  Davis’s fun was facilitated by his employment as a paid Washington correspondent for the New York Courier and Enquirer and the London Times during the 1830s, under the pseudonyms “The Spy in Washington” and “A Genevese Traveller.”  Though written from an anti-Jacksonian perspective, Davis’s columns were generally dispassionate, and received wide praise for the volume of inside information and accurate analysis that they contained.  The Matthew Livingston Davis Papers in the New-York Historical Society contain a scrapbook filled with clippings of Davis’s columns and published comments on them.  See also,  New York Herald, 23 June 1850.

[12] Alan Tully, Forming American Politics: Ideals, Interests, and Institutions in Colonial New York and Pennsylvania (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994), especially 390-430; Patricia Bonomi, A Factious People: Politics and Society in Colonial New York (New York: Columbia University Press, 1971); and Milton M. Klein, The Politics of Diversity: Essays in the History of Colonial New York (Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1974).  Edward Countryman, A People in Revolution: The American Revolution and Political Society in New York, 1760-1790, paperback ed. (New York: Norton, 1989), 191-279, argues that New York’s “partisan culture” came to maturity only under Governor George Clinton’s regime during and after the Revolution.  Even in this version, New Yorkers in 1800 would have regarded partisanship as the norm.

[13] An example of a politician who violently espoused both liberalism and republicanism was John Beckley, a former indentured servant who became the first Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.  Like Davis, Beckley was a denizen of the political underground and  a tireless, self-appointed Republican campaigner who was snubbed by Jefferson after the election of 1800.  See Jeffrey L. Pasley, “ ‘A Journeyman, Either in Law or Politics’: John Beckley and the Social Origins of Political Campaigning,” Journal of the Early Republic, forthcoming.  For a full biography of Beckley, see Edmund Berkeley and Dorothy Smith Berkeley, John Beckley: Zealous Partisan in a Nation Divided (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1973).

[14] Two famous break-ups of former allies occurred between Jefferson and John Adams on the one hand, and James Madison and Alexander Hamilton on other.  In both cases, close allies became bitter opponents within a matter of a few years.  An influential article that attributes the explosiveness of politics in the Early Republic to classical republicanism is John R. Howe, “Republican Thought and the Political Violence of the 1790s,” American Quarterly 19 (1967): 147-165.

[15] J[ohn] Swartwout to Albert Gallatin, New York, 1 Sept. 1801, David Gelston to Gallatin, New York, 4 September 1801, and Gallatin to Thomas Jefferson, [21 May 1801], both in Matthew L. Davis file, Letters of Application and Recommen­dation During the Administration of Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809, Record Group 59, General Records of the Department of State, National Archives (hereafter cited as Letters of Application 1801-1809, National Archives); and Matthew Livingston Davis to Chancellor [Robert R.] Livingston, New York, 21 August 1801, Robert R. Livingston Papers, New-York Historical Society. On the protests of the 1760s and the impact of the Revolution on New York artisans, see Countryman, A People in Revolution, 36-160.

[16] David C. Franks, The New-York Directory  (New York: For the editor, 1787), 12;  The New-York Directory and Register for the Year 1789 (New-York:  Hodge, Allen & Campbell, 1789), 26; and Thomas E.V. Smith, The City of New York in the Year of Washington's Inauguration, 1789 (Riverside, Conn.: Chatham Press, 1972), 34.  Davis may have spent his childhood in an even more disreputable establishment may well been much more disreputable than I have indicated here. Timothy J. Gilfoyle (in City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 1790-1820 [New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1994], 45) has discovered that Davis, like many other prominent New Yorkers, was an investor in brothels during the early 19th century.  It seems possible that his mother’s establishment provided more extensive services than food and lodging.  At any rate, Davis was certainly no stranger to the underside of urban life.

[17] Clarence S. Brigham,  History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820 (Worcester, Mass.: American Antiquarian Society, 1947), 630; Mushkat, Tammany, 35, 20-24; New-York Evening Post, 8 December 1794, 2, 14, 23, 26 January, 4, 6 February, 8, 16 March 1795; Philip S. Foner, ed., The Democratic-Republican Societies, 1790-1800: A Documentary Sourcebook of Constitutions, Declarations, Addresses, Resolutions, and Toasts (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1976), 204-219; and Mushkat, "Davis and the Legacy of Burr," 125.  For Levi Wayland's publishing activities, see Charles Evans and Clifford Shipton, American Bibliography (Vols. 1-12, Chicago: By the author, 1903-1934; Vols. 13-14, Worcester, Mass.: American Antiquarian Society, 1955-1959), entries 26931, 26954, 27408, 27523, 28155, 28483, 28484, 28507, 28597, 29520, 29521, 29929, 31078.

[18] For documentation of this trend, see Pasley, “Artful and Designing Men,” Chapters Four and Five.  On the increasingly close connection between the press and the parties in the 1790s, see ibid.;  Donald H. Stewart, The Opposition Press of the Federalist Period (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1969), 3-32; Sloan, "The Early Party Press,”; and idem, "`Purse and Pen:' Party-Press Relationships, 1789-1816."­

[19] Davis, Memoirs of Burr, 1:328ff.; and Lomask, Burr, 1:173-184.

[20] Davis, Memoirs of Burr, 2:55-56.

[21] Matthew Livingston Davis, A Brief Account of the Epidemical Fever which Lately Prevailed in the City of New York (New York: M. L. Davis, 1795), 6-7, 18, 66.  In the late 1790s, Davis edited another short-lived political newspaper, the New York Time Piece, and also published a number of political books and pamphlets, including an edition of Jefferson's Notes on Virginia. For the Davises' publications, see Evans, American Bibliography, entries 38162,  35118,  35278,  35279,  33522,  37295, 38334,  38335,  37485,  35694, 37749, 37825, 38006, 36081, 38235, 36202, 36266,  31078; and Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps.,  American Bibliography. [1801-1819]  (New York: Scarecrow Press, 1958‑1966), entries 722 and 2883.  On the edition of the Notes on Virginia, see Matthew L. & William A. Davis to Thomas Jefferson, New York, 19 October 1800, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress.

[22] New York Herald, 23 June 1850; and Davis to Gallatin, 21 April 1798, Gallatin Papers, N-YHS.

[23] Davis to Gallatin, 21, 26 April 1798, Gallatin Papers, N-YHS;  New York Time Piece, 21 February, 12, 19, 21, 26 March, 2, 23 April, 2 May 1798; Mushkat, "Davis and the Legacy of Burr," 126.

[24] Peter Augustus Jay to John Jay, New York, 26 April 1798,  The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, ed. Henry P. Johnston (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1890), 4:238-240.

[25] "A well wisher to the Institution,"  New York Time Piece, 26 March 1798.

[26] Anthony Lispenard to Thomas Jefferson, New York, 7 September 1801, M.L. Davis file, Letters of Application 1801-1809, National Archives (quoted);  Davis to Gallatin, 14 May 1798, Gallatin Papers, N-YHS; New York Time Piece, 30 April 1798; Mushkat, "Davis and the Legacy of Burr," 125-127; Greenleaf’s New York Journal and Patriotic Register, 7 July 1798, typescript in Edwin Patrick Kilroe Collection, Box 26, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University; M[atthew] L[ivingston] Davis, Oration, Delivered in St. Paul's Church, on the Fourth of July, 1800 (New-York: W.A. Davis, 1800); and Tammany Society or Columbian Order in the City of New York,  "Membership List (1789-1924); List of Officers; List of Stockholders (1809-1819)," Kilroe Collection, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia.

[27] Henry Remsen to Thomas Jefferson, New York, 25 August 1801, and David Gelston to Albert Gallatin, New York, 4 September 1801, M.L. Davis file, Letters of Application 1801-1809, National Archives.

[28] Stuart M. Blumin, The Emergence of the Middle Class: Social Experience in the American City, 1760-1900  (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 17-107.

[29] The post-Burr career of the Burrites is detailed in Mushkat, "Davis and the Legacy of Burr," 131-148.

[30] Though he has been excoriated by historians for his ill-handling of Burr's papers, this was a rather noble act on Davis's part.  Financially prostrate at the time, he refused a number of lucrative offers (especially from his fellow editor-politician Mordecai M. Noah) to publish the letters.  Strict in his personal if not always his political morality, Davis was ashamed of this "strong and revolting trait" in his friend, and denounced it at length (but without specifics) in his edition of Burr's letters.  See Davis, Memoirs of Burr, 1: iv-vi, 86-92; and Harriet Weed, ed., Autobiography of Thurlow Weed, 416.

[31] Matthew Livingston Davis Memorandum Book, Rufus King Papers, Vol. 57, N-YHS, 31-32.  Jerome Mushkat’s charge that the Burrites failed because they “lacked a central core of moral commitment” and because their “primary goal . . . was power” (“Davis and the Legacy of Burr,” 127) overlooks the possibility that the democratization of political life could itself be a moral commitment.  Davis had a keen understanding of the vulnerability of those fundamentally excluded from political power.  In his bitter account of the New York yellow-fever epidemic of 1795, Davis pointed out the disproportionately heavy toll that the epidemic took on New York’s poorer citizens, and put the blame partly on the aristocratic cast of the city’s political and social life.  “Luxury and pride . . . splendor, pomp and dissipation, were at a shameful height,” he wrote, while people of moderate means struggled to support their families, and poor immigrants crowded into cellars (Brief Account of the Epidemical Fever, 6-7).

[32] Davis, Memoirs of Burr, 1:433-435, 2:55-60; and Matthew L. Davis to Albert Gallatin, New York, 29 March, 15 April, 1, 5 May 1800, Albert Gallatin Papers, New-York Historical Society. 

Among secondary accounts of the 1800 New York legislative campaign, the best are Cunningham, Jeffersonian Republicans, 176-185; and Editorial Note, "The New York Elections of 1800," in Kline, ed., Papers of Burr, 1:419-425.

[33] This paragraph reflects Matthew Davis's personal view of these matters (as presented in Memoirs of Burr), not necessarily that of the author or any other historian.

[34] For Jefferson's first bid for Burr's support, see Jefferson to Burr, Philadelphia, 17 June 1797, Kline, ed., Correspondence of Burr, 1:298-300.

[35] Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, N-YHS, 17-18, 7-8.

[36] Matthew Livingston Davis to John Michael O’Connor, Albany, 16, 27 February, 2 , 3 November 1824, John Michael O’Connor Papers, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan; Davis to N.G. Ingraham, Albany, 2,3 November 1824, Miscellaneous Papers, New York Public Library; Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, N-YHS, 3-5, 18, 46-48; Mushkat, "Davis and the Legacy of Burr," 142-147; Harriet Weed, ed., Autobiography of Thurlow Weed, 33, 413-415.  See also the numerous references to Davis in various volumes of James F. Hopkins, et al, eds. The Papers of Henry Clay (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1959‑1992).

On the Jeffersonianism of the Whigs, see Peterson, Jefferson Image, 99-104; and Daniel Walker Howe, The Political Culture of the American Whigs (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 90-91, 290-291. For the career of another Jeffersonian Republican editor who came to oppose Andrew Jackson (and to be a close friend of Matthew Davis), see Glyndon G. Van Deusen, Thurlow Weed: Wizard of the Lobby  (Boston: Little Brown, 1947), 3-102. On Clay as the “real republican candidate,” see Ralph Lockwood to Josiah Johnston, New York, 21 September 1824, Josiah Johnston Papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.  I am not arguing the Whigs were necessarily right to claim Jefferson as their own, only that they did indeed do so.  On Clay’s Virginia background and early enthusiasm for Jefferson, see Robert V. Remini,  Henry Clay: Statesmen for the Union (New York: Norton, 1991), 1-31; and Clement Eaton, Henry Clay and the Art of American Politics (Boston: Little Brown, 1957), 3-16.

[37] Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, N-YHS, 8-9.

[38] Thomas Jefferson to John Randolph, Monticello, 25 August 1775, in Randolph, ed., Memoir of Jefferson, 1:150; Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, N-YHS, 9.  In discussing Davis's extracts, I will be citing Jefferson's letters from the source that Davis used.  However, I have also checked the texts he copied against the following modern editions:  Julian P. Boyd, et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950-), for letters up to 1793; and Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, The Knickerbocker Press, 1892-1899), for letters after 1793.

[39] Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, Annapolis, 16 April 1784, in Randolph, ed., Memoir of Jefferson, 1:226; Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, N-YHS, 9.

[40] Ibid., 19-20. Here Davis was subtly contrasting Jefferson’s supposed cowardice with Aaron Burr’s well-known physical courage, the trait that allowed him to coolly shoot down Alexander Hamilton.

[41] Ibid., 23; Jefferson to Volney, 8 January 1797, in Randolph, ed., Memoir of Jefferson, 3:343.

[42] Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, N-YHS, 8, 29.

[43] Ibid., 23.  The letter described is Thomas Jefferson to Aaron Burr, Philadel­phia, 17 June 1797, Kline, ed., Correspondence of Burr, 1:298-301.  On Burr as Jefferson’s running mate in 1796, see  Cunningham, Jeffersonian Republicans, 91-92; “Editorial Note: The 1796 Presidential Election,” Kline, ed., Correspondence of Burr, 1: 266-270; and Lomask, Aaron Burr, 1: 186-190.

[44] Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, N-YHS, 26-27; Thomas Jefferson to Aaron Burr, Washington, 15 December 1800, Kline, ed., Correspondence of Burr, 1:469-470.

[45] Lomask, Aaron Burr, 1:270-275; Burr to Jefferson, New York, 23 December 1800, Kline, ed., Correspondence of Burr, 1:473-474.

[46] Davis, Memoirs of Burr, 2:139-140; Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, N-YHS, 23; Randolph, ed., Memoir of Jefferson, 4:520­.  Jefferson's latter-day revision of his relationship with Burr is not (at least as far as any "habitual" warnings to Madison) borne out by any other of Jefferson's writings.

[47] Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, N-YHS, 29-30.

[48] Matthew Livingston Davis to William Peter Van Ness, New York, 15 August 1805, Matthew Livingston Davis Papers, N-YHS.  For complete evidence on this point, see  Pasley, “Artful and Designing Men,” 410-445.  On the similar convictions prevalent among the Federalists of the period, see David Hackett Fischer, The Revolution of American Conservatism: The Federalist Party in the Era of Jeffersonian Democracy (New York: Harper and Row, 1965), 133-149.

[49] Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, N-YHS, 25-26.  Two letters highlighted by Davis are: Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 3 April 1797 & 5  February 1799, in Randolph, ed., Memoir of Jefferson, 364 & 416.  A convenient summary of Jefferson's many entanglements with the press can be found in Frank Luther Mott, Jefferson and the Press (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1943).

[50] Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, 17.

[51] Ibid., 17-18; Thomas Jefferson to Francis Hopkinson, Paris, 13 March 1789, Randolph, ed., Memoir of Jefferson, 2: 438-439.

[52] Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, 17-18.  Historians have generally agreed with Davis's interpretation of Jefferson's relationship with Con­gress.  Two judicious examples are Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., The Jeffersonian Republicans in Power: Party Operations, 1801-1809 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1963), 71-100; and idem, The Process of Government Under Jeffer­son (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1978), 41-44, 188-213.  Ralph Ketcham has recently argued that the President's motive in enforcing such unity was maintaining support for his programs, rather than the organiza­tional strength of the party per se. (Presidents Above Party, 110-111)  If it existed at all, this distinction was  imperceptible to a veteran partisan like Davis.

[53] Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, N-YHS, 7-8.  While I know of no historian who has used Davis's notebook on Jefferson or placed Davis in exactly the context I do here, and while only Jerome Mushkat has treated Davis himself in any detail, Davis's 1801 bid for a patronage appointment has often been portrayed as a key moment in the Jefferson-Burr split.  The best treatments of this incident are: Mary-Jo Kline, et al, "Editorial Note: Burr and Jeffersonian Patronage," in Correspondence of Burr, 1:532-536, along with the relevant letters in the same collection;  Noble Cunningham, Jr., The Jeffersonian Republicans in Power: Party Operations, 1801-1809 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1963), 38-43; and Lomask, Aaron Burr, 1:299-303.

[54] Albert Gallatin to Thomas Jefferson, Washington, 12 September 1801, Henry Adams, ed., The Writings of Albert Gallatin (Orig. ed., 1879; reprint ed., New York: Antiquarian Press, 1960), 1:47-48 (quoted); Lomask, Aaron Burr, 1:298-299; Kline, "Burr and Jeffersonian Patronage."

[55] Lomask, Aaron Burr, 1:299; Matthew L. Davis to Albert Gallatin, New York, 22 December 1801, Gallatin Papers, N-YHS.

[56] Aaron Burr to Albert Gallatin, N[ew]York, 21 April 1801, Kline, ed., Correspondence of Burr, 1:566 (quoted).  See also, Ibid. 1:530-545, 548, 550-554, 558-560, 566-571, 587-592.

[57] Isaac Ledyard to Jefferson, 7 September 1801, Lispenard to Jeffer­son, 7 September 1801, Swartwout to Gallatin, 1 September 1801, all in M.L. Davis file, Letters of Application 1801-1809, National Archives.

[58] Ezekiel Robins to Albert Gallatin, New York, 6 September 1801, M.L. Davis file, Letters of Application 1801-1809, National Archives.

[59]Aaron Burr to Albert Gallatin, New York, 28 June 1801, Kline, ed., Correspondence of Burr, 2:602-603; John Swartwout to Gallatin, 1 Sept. 1801, M.L. Davis file, Letters of Application 1801-1809, National Archives.

[60] Leonard D. White, The Jeffersonians: A Study in Ad­ministrative History, 1801-1829 (New York: Macmillan, 1951), 345-364, quotations on 348, 356; see also, Dumas Malone, Jefferson the President: First Term, 1801-1805 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1970), 85-88; and Sidney H. Aronson, Status and Kinship in the Higher Civil Service: Standards of Selection in the Administrations of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1964), 7-14.

[61] Thomas Jefferson to George Clinton, Washington, 17 May 1801, Ford, ed., Writings of Jefferson, 8:53.

[62] Gallatin to Jefferson, [21 May 1801], M.L. Davis file, Letters of Application 1801-1809,  National Archives.

[63] Kline, "Burr as a Symbol of Corruption"; idem, "Burr and Jeffersonian Patronage";  Kline, ed., Correspondence of Burr, 1:541, 559, 566-567, 582, 2:602-603, 619-621, 701; Cunningham, Republicans in Power, 39-41; Gallatin to Jefferson, 14 September 1801, Adams, ed., Writings of Gallatin, 1:50-53; Jefferson to George Clinton, 17 May 1801, Ford, ed., Writings of Jefferson, 8:53.  Though Davis never fully grasped the reasons for Jefferson's hostility, he was quite correct about the role of the great Republican families in his and his mentor's downfall.  See Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, N-YHS, 31-32.

[64] Aaron Burr to Albert Gallatin, N[ew]York, 28 June 1801, Kline, ed., Correspondence of Burr, 2:602; Gallatin to Jefferson, 14 September 1801, Adams, ed., Writings of Gallatin, 1:50-53.

[65] Gallatin to Jefferson, 12 September 1801, ibid., 1:47-49.

[66] Gallatin to Jefferson, 14 September 1801, ibid., 1:53.

[67] Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, N-YHS, 7-8.

[68] Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, Monticello, 18 September 1801, Adams, ed., Writings of Gallatin, 1:54; Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, N-YHS, 7-8.

[69] New York Herald, 23 June 1850.

[70] Peterson, Jefferson and the New Nation, 671.

[71] New York Herald, 23 June 1850.

[72] Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, N-YHS, 34.

[73] Ibid.; and Davis, Memoirs of Burr, 2:99.

[74] The anti-Burr "pamphlet war" is discussed in, among other sources, Mary-Jo Kline, "The Suppression of John Wood's His­tory," and "The Pamphlet War," in Correspondence of Burr, 2:641-646, 724-728; Davis, Memoirs of Burr, 2:75-100; Mushkat, "Davis and the Legacy of Burr," 130-131; and Lomask, Aaron Burr , 314-323. Strangely, Davis does not seem to have published the story of Cheetham's requested bribe, a curious omission given the viciousness of the "pamphlet war."  However, since Davis wrote in a private notebook about events in which he was personally involved, there is no reason to discredit his account.

[75] Charles S. Sydnor, Gentlemen Freeholders: Political Practices in Washington's Virginia (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1952); Rhys Isaac, The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1982), 88-138; and Paul K. Longmore, The Invention of George Washington (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), 56-67.

[76] Ketcham, Presidents Above Party, 100-113; Hofstad­ter, The Idea of a Party System­, 122-128; and Daniel P. Jordan,  Political Leadership in Jefferson's Virginia (Charlottes­ville: University Press of Virginia, 1983).

[77] Thomas Jefferson to William Branch Giles, Monticello, 31 December 1795, Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 7:43.

[78] These antipartisan political values held wide sway throughout the South, and one place where they were especially strong was South Carolina, the state that supplanted Virginia during the 19th century as the opinion leader for the region as a whole.  See Robert M. Weir, “ ‘The Harmony We Were Famous For’:  An Interpretation of Pre-Revolutionary South Carolina Politics,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3d ser., 26 (1969): 473-501; Jean H. Baker, Affairs of Party: The Political Culture of Northern Democrats in the Mid-Nineteenth Century (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1983), 10; and George C. Rable, The Confederate Republic: A Revolution against Politics (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994), 6-19.  Rable argues that secession and the nature of the Confederate government can be attributed to the strong and enduring strain of classical republican antipartyism in Southern political culture. 

For typicality of classical republican antipartisanship in New England, see Formisano, Transformation of Political Culture, especially the chapter on "The Politics of the Revolutionary Center," 57-83.  For additional material on the extreme antipartyism of the New England Federalists, see Peter Shaw, The Character of John Adams (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1976); Elkins and McKitrick,  The Age of Federalism; Linda K. Kerber,  Federalists in Dissent: Imagery and Ideology in Jeffersonian America (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1970); and the sections on John and John Quincy Adams in Ketcham, Presidents Above Party.  Campaigning was even less acceptable in many parts of New England than it was in the South.  Connecticut Federalist Zephaniah Swift boasted that no candidate in his state had ever publicly solicited votes (A System of the Laws of the State of Connecticut [Windham: John Byrne, 1795], 67-68).  For corroboration of Swift’s view, see Richard J. Purcell, Connecticut in Transition (Washington, D.C.: American Historical Association, 1918).

[79] Davis Memorandum Book, King Papers, N-YHS, 10-11.

[80] This paragraph is most influenced by Tully, Forming American Politics; and Appleby, Capitalism and a New Social Order.

[81] Mushkat, "Davis and the Legacy of Burr," 140-141; Hugh Maxwell, comp., Trial of Jacob Barker, Thomas Vermilya, and Matthew L. Davis for Alleged Conspiracy (New-York: Coke Law-Press, 1827), 25, 31-44, 141-154, 170ff; and Nathaniel B. Blunt, ed., The Speech of Matthew L. Davis, on His Trial for a Conspiracy (New York: William A. Davis, 1827).

[82] For examples of this conflict, see Pasley, “A Journeyman, Either in Law or Politics,” and idem, “‘Artful and Designing Men’,” 410-537.  For other accounts of the conflict, viewed from somewhat different angles, see Phillips, "William Duane, Revolutionary Editor”; and Richard E. Ellis, The Jeffersonian Crisis: Courts and Politics in the Young Republic  (New York: W.W. Norton & Co. , 1974).