A Factious People

A Factious People: Politics and Society in Colonial New York

Patricia U. Bonomi
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7591/j.ctt1287fbx
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  • Book Info
    A Factious People
    Book Description:

    First published in 1971 and long out of print, this classic account of Colonial-era New York chronicles how the state was buffeted by political and sectional rivalries and by conflict arising from a wide diversity of ethnic and religious identities. New York's highly volatile and contentious political life, Patricia U. Bonomi shows, gave rise to a number of interest groups for whose support political leaders had to compete, resulting in new levels of democratic participation.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-5534-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. vii-x)
    Patricia Updegraff Bonomi
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  4. I SOME PROBLEMS IN COLONIAL NEW YORK HISTORY
    (pp. 1-16)

    If one were to sketch the “character” of the modern State of New York, certain outstanding qualities would come immediately to mind. The people of New York are drawn from a remarkably rich mixture of races, religions, and cultures. The State’s economy is a varied one, encompassing the Wall Street financial community, industrial and commercial centers, and important farming and dairy enterprises. Strong sectional feelings are reflected in an upstate-downstate rivalry that has had both political and economic consequences. All of these find expression in New York’s politics, which are known to be raucous and schismatic, if always colorful. The...

  5. II SETTLEMENT AND EXPANSION
    (pp. 17-55)

    In 1776 john adams, exasperated by the divided and sluggish response of New York to the Revolutionary crisis, wondered whether there might have been something in the very “air or soil of New York” that could explain the peculiar political behavior of its people.¹ Actually, there was. In New York, perhaps to a greater degree than in most other colonies, such primary factors as geography and climate had an important influence on the way people adapted to the land and, in turn, to each other. Patterns of settlement, economic developments, political relationships, and cultural forms were all strongly affected at...

  6. III ECONOMIC INTERESTS AND POLITICAL CONTENTIONS
    (pp. 56-102)

    One of the most observable characteristics of New York Colony was the dual nature of its economy. With commerce and agriculture of nearly equal importance to the colony’s prosperity, New York developed both a thriving merchant community and an influential body of wealthy landholders. Contemporaries took cognizance of this duality by frequent references to the “merchant interest” and the “landed” or “country interest,” ¹ and it is apparent from such references that the two groups sometimes found themselves in competition for political and economic advantage.

    New York was the only colony where these two interests grew up side by side...

  7. IV THE MORRIS-COSBY DISPUTE: A POLITICAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS
    (pp. 103-139)

    An earlier generation of scholars has salted the literature of American history, at times almost imperceptibly, with hundreds of character analyses and minor interpretations which continue to exert a subtle influence today. This is true even in the relatively circumscribed realm of New York history. The process may certainly be seen in various treatments of the character and motives of Lewis Morris—particularly in relation to the part Morris played in the political crisis of the 1730’s, the subject of this chapter. To some of the earlier writers, Morris’s motives and actions during those years when he led a vigorous...

  8. V JAMES DELANCEY, ANGLO-AMERICAN: THE POLITICS OF NEW YORK AT MID-CENTURY
    (pp. 140-178)

    Efforts to discern the patterns and purposes of New York political affairs in the mid-eighteenth century have always been impeded by the need to account for a number of abrupt shifts of allegiance by certain major political figures of the time. The most notable case is that of Chief Justice James DeLancey, whose erratic path was marked by sudden transpositions from avowed “courtier” in the 1730’s to opposition leaderpar excellencein the 1740’s, and thence back to royal spokesman in the 1750’s, when he became lieutenant-governor and then acting governor. Another look at this particular case—that of the...

  9. VI NEW YORK’S LAND SYSTEM: PROBLEMS AND OPPORTUNITIES
    (pp. 179-228)

    New york’s early history was profoundly influenced by the patterns of landholding that were set in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In New York, as in the other northern colonies, small farms dotted the countryside and constituted the most typical form of land ownership. But the colony did contain a number of huge patents which were under the exclusive control of a few families. So much more extensive than the largest southern plantations as almost to defy comparison, the greatest of the New York patents each encompassed several hundred thousand acres of the choicest land in the colony.¹...

  10. VII POLITICS, THE “UNIVERSAL TOPICK”: 1765-1770
    (pp. 229-278)

    “Our Politicks are dirty and too low to stoop to,” declared Robert Watts of New York in January, 1776: “They are such a compound of Malice, Dissimulation & Jealousy that my Soul abhors them.” ¹ Though Watts’s Loyalist sentiments may have had something to do with this outburst, the frenzied quality of party conflict in the decade or so before the Revolution could hardly be questioned. The exceptional frequency of Assembly elections—three were held within eight years during the 1760’s—was in itself a factor in the heightening of tensions. Another, of course, was the clamor raised, especially in New...

  11. VIII IDEOLOGY AND POLITICS: A CONCLUDING NOTE
    (pp. 279-286)

    The recent resurgence of interest in ideology that has been generated by the work of Bernard Bailyn, Gordon Wood, and others has added new and greatly broadened horizons to our understanding of the Revolutionary Era. This is an indispensable element, and fully worthy of the attention it has received. The reader will have noticed, however, that this ideological element has not been taken up in these pages except by occasional and indirect reference. There is a reason for this, and it is not owing to any lack of appreciation for the subject’s vast importance.

    By the time of the Revolution...

  12. APPENDIX A: GENEALOGIES
    (pp. 288-292)
  13. APPENDIX B: ENGLISH GOVERNORS OF NEW YORK
    (pp. 293-294)
  14. APPENDIX C: REPRESENTATIVES IN THE COLONIAL ASSEMBLY
    (pp. 295-311)
  15. APPENDIX D: COUNCIL OF THE COLONY OF NEW YORK
    (pp. 312-316)
  16. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 317-330)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 331-342)