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The Old Dominion and the New Nation

The Old Dominion and the New Nation: 1788--1801

Copyright Date: 1972
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    The Old Dominion and the New Nation
    Book Description:

    This comprehensive study -- an honorable mention in the 1971 Frederick Jackson Turner Award competition -- traces the emergence and development of the Republican and Federalist party organizations in Virginia and shows how the old oligarchic system based on wealth, influence, and social prestige remained strong in that state after the formation of the new nation. The book covers details of the Virginia Antifederalists' continuing hostility to the federal Constitution, James Madison's switch from the Federalist party to the emerging Republican party, Madison's and Jefferson's attempts to coordinate Republican opposition to Federalist foreign policy, and the Republicans' successful campaign in 1800 to replace President John Adams with a Virginian.

    Richard R. Beeman's central concern is the style of political life in Virginia and the effect of that style on national party alignments, and his findings demonstrate that the mode of political conduct displayed by Virginia's leaders proved increasingly self-indulgent and dysfunctional by 1800.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-6204-1
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. CHAPTER ONE Union or No Union
    (pp. 1-27)

    The first day of June 1788 had been unseasonably hot in Richmond, Virginia, but it was no warmer than the debate and speculation that filled the air. The convention to consider ratification of the federal Constitution was to convene the next day; no one could be sure of the outcome. Some Federalists were so confident as to expect a majority of twenty or more, but few shared their optimism. James Madison, the most active in organizing support for the Constitution, admitted that “the business is in the most ticklish state that can be imagined. The majority will certainly be very...

  5. CHAPTER TWO The Continuity of Political Life
    (pp. 28-55)

    The reluctance of so many of Virginia’s state-oriented politicians to yield power to a new federal government is hardly surprising. For those same men had successfully resisted any changes in their own state government which threatened to diminish their political power. Even the Revolution, although it succeeded in eliminating royal authority, left the structure of provincial politics intact. The Virginia constitution of 1776 merely legitimized the destruction of royal power and strengthened the grasp of the provincial oligarchy on the politics of the state. That constitution, although hardly advancing the already-slow process of democratization in Virginia, was nevertheless wholly in...

  6. CHAPTER THREE Antifederalist Fears Confirmed
    (pp. 56-89)

    It was not until the First Congress of the United States had convened that Virginians faced the full consequences of their decision to join the union. All the charges and countercharges over the nature of the general government had been, up to that date, pure conjecture. But when the new government actually commenced operation, the Antifederalists faced the unhappy prospect of seeing all their dire predictions come true.

    The months following adjournment of the state legislature in November 1788 had not been particularly encouraging for the Antifederalists. The attempt to call a second convention had proved abortive. Virginia and New...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR Federal Policy and Domestic Affairs
    (pp. 90-118)

    A coalition of Antifederalists and disenchanted Federalists, which, by 1791, would assume the name of the “republican interest,” had dominated the Virginia legislature in 1790 and had passed overwhelmingly theAddress to Congress, a memorial critical of the federal government. In so doing, the members of Virginia’s ruling elite had expressed decisively their fears of consolidated government. Despite this heavy preponderance of leaders opposing the policies of the new government, there remained in the legislature a small band of Federalists, who though personally uncertain of the wisdom of government policy, nevertheless voted consistently against their republican opponents in the General...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE Federal Policy and Foreign Affairs: I
    (pp. 119-158)

    While Republicans in Congress were trying unsuccessfully to mobilize opposition to the Bank of the United States, other issues began to occupy the public mind. The judgment of the Federalist administration in foreign affairs was to be challenged at every level of political life—in Congress, in the state legislatures, and in the counties. As the Anglo-French rivalry in Europe intensified, the Republican and Federalist factions took sides in the contest, with the Federalists becoming aligned with Great Britain, the Republicans with France. In only a few cases were these attachments determined by the interests of the members of either...

  9. CHAPTER SIX Federal Policy and Foreign Affairs: II
    (pp. 159-183)

    The intense debate over the Jay Treaty and the impending retirement of President Washington combined to make the 1796 presidential election the most bitterly contested in the nation’s brief history. For the Republicans, it was a matter of reversing the dangerous trends toward consolidation and alliance with Great Britain; for the Federalists, it was a means of vindicating Washington and putting a halt to the attempts by the opposition to bring about anarchy and disunion.

    In Virginia, preparations for the election began much earlier than usual. As early as May 1796, four months before Washington had officially announced his intention...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN Party Politics and Political Theory
    (pp. 184-220)

    In the summer of 1798 the Federalist majority in Congress enacted measures to organize a provisional army, to suspend trade with France, to capture and punish French privateers, to regulate the activities of aliens, and to punish anyone guilty of seditious writings against the federal government.¹ The citizens of Virginia were enraged—not since the Revolution had the actions of the central government so threatened their liberties. The establishment of a sizable peace-time army—which many Virginians feared would be used to crush domestic opposition to administration policy—and passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts raised new questions regarding...

  11. CHAPTER EIGHT Triumph of Agrarian Republicanism
    (pp. 221-236)

    The Republicans were the first to take advantage of the new presidential elector law. On January 21, 1800, the very day after the general ticket proposal had become law, ninety-three members of the legislature and a number of other persons met to lay plans for an efficient party organization for the election. It had long since been decided that Jefferson and Aaron Burr would be Republican candidates for president and vice president, so the first task was to nominate a slate of electors pledged to these two candidates. They succeeded in enlisting the aid of nearly every prominent Republican in...

  12. CHAPTER NINE Virginia and the Revolution of 1800
    (pp. 237-248)

    Jefferson and Republicanism had triumphed. Joseph C. Cabell commented: “It is the triumph of principles & not the triumph of men which now causes the heart to vibrate with joy & the eye to swim in tears of delight.… The men who would make this country a scene of tyranny and ruin are now giving place to those who wish to keep us in peace to share our treasure & to administer our government upon the purest principles of republican liberty.”¹ But what did this triumph mean for Virginians and how was it to affect their state’s internal polity and its relations with...

  13. APPENDIX ONE Leadership of the House of Delegates, 1788–1800
    (pp. 249-252)
  14. APPENDIX TWO Party Divisions in the House of Delegates
    (pp. 253-267)
  15. APPENDIX THREE Local Interest Groups in the House of Delegates, 1788–1790
    (pp. 268-269)
  16. Bibliographical Note
    (pp. 270-274)
  17. Index
    (pp. 275-282)