AP - C7 Notes _3 - Gatesville High School

January 5, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: History, US History, The Civil War And Reconstruction (1850-1880), Civil War
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Chapter 7: Democracy in Distress

Popular Political Culture • partisan – partial to a specific party or purpose • even though members of Congress were voting as Republicans or Federalists they condemned the partisan spirit as a threat to the stability of the United States – viewed a “party” with “faction” and “faction” with “conspiracy to overthrow legitimate authority”

• created an atmosphere that bred suspicion

Partisan Newspapers and Political Clubs • more than any other element, newspapers transformed the political culture • Americans were voracious readers • John Fenno – Gazette of the United States • Philip Freneau – National Gazette – tone of the two publications was quite different, they were fiercely partisan journals presenting rumor and opinion as fact • some of the precursor to ‘yellow journalism’

• Noah Webster – spent the 1790s editing a Federalist journal called the American Minerva – would later publish An American Dictionary of the English Language

• during this time you also had the birth of political clubs “Democratic” or “Republican” associations

Whiskey Rebellion Linked to Republican Conspiracy • the Federalists convinced themselves that the Republicans were prepared to use violence against the U.S. government • farmers in Pennsylvania protested an excise tax on distilled whiskey passed by Congress in 1791 – excise – an internal tax or duty on certain commodities, levied on the manufacture, sale, or consumption of the product

• were making good money distilling their grain into whiskey and didn’t want the excise to put them out of business

• the insurrection represented a direct political challenge • President Washington called out 15,000 militiamen and marched against the rebels – expedition was an embarrassing fiasco resulting in minimum violence as the distillers disappeared

• victory in the rebellion and the rebellion itself intensified the split between the two parties

Washington’s Farewell • in September 1796, Washington published his Farewell Address declaring his intention to retire from the presidency – set the precedent for presidents to serve 2 terms

• in the address, Washington warned against all political factions, counseled the US to avoid any permanent alliances – would become the basis for American neutrality and isolationist sentiment for many years

The Adams Presidency • Federalists agreed that John Adams should stand against the Republican Thomas Jefferson – Hamilton feared thought that an independentminded Adams would be difficult to manipulate

• each elector cast 2 ballots and the person who gained the most votes became president • runner-up, regardless of party affiliation became vice-president

The Election of 1796 Candidate


Electoral Vote

J. Adams






T. Pinckney






• Hamilton secretly urged southern Federalists to support only Pinckney, even if that meant throwing away their second vote • when New Englanders heard of Hamilton’s plan, they dropped Pinckney and voted only for Adams – this would heighten tensions within the Federalist party

• Adams was saddled with the members of Washington’s old cabinet – a group that would regularly consult Hamilton behind Adams’s back – but, if Adams had dismissed them and called his own cabinet he would have called Washington’s judgment into question and Adams would not take that highly public risk John Adams – Second President

• Adams also had to work with a Republican vicepresident

The XYZ Affair and Domestic Politics • French government regarded Jay’s Treaty (with Great Britain) as an affront – allowing Great Britain to define the conditions for neutrality, the US had sided with them against France

• in 1797, French privateers began seizing American ships – neither the US or France officially declared war, and this became known as the Quasi-War

• Adams did not want to escalate the conflict – he dispatched a special commission in a final attempt to solve the problem

• negotiating team was made up of Charles Pinckney, John Marshall, and Elbridge Gerry – were instructed to obtain compensation for the ships seized as well as release from the treaties of 1778 – the group would also offer France the same commercial privileges as Great Britain

• while the diplomats negotiated in France, Adams talked of strengthening American defenses to placate the more militant members of his own party

• when the commission arrived in France, instead of dealing with Talleyrand (the minister of foreign relations), they met with obscure intermediaries who demanded huge bribes – Talleyrand would not open negotiations unless he was given $250,000 – the French government also expected a “loan” of millions of dollars

• the American negotiators refused to play along – “Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute.”

French Minister Talleyrand

• when Adams presented the official correspondence from the negotiations, the names of Talleyrand’s lackeys was changed to X, Y, and Z

A 1798 political cartoon, depicting America – the young maiden, being plundered by five Frenchmen who represent the five directors of the French government.

Crushing Political Dissent • Federalists assumed that Adams would be asking Congress for a formal declaration of war • began pushing for a general rearmament – new fighting ships – additional harbor fortifications – greatly expanded U.S. Army

• Adams remained skeptical and saw no likelihood of French invasion

• the army was not necessarily to stop French aggression, but to stop internal opposition • in the summer of 1798, a provisional army was created under the leadership of George Washington

Alexander Hamilton

– who agreed to take the position if Hamilton was appointed his second in command – Hamilton wanted military glory for himself, but continued to treat the president with contempt

• Hamilton could make no move without presidential cooperation – Adams was in fact the Commander in Chief – whenever questions about the army came up, Adams was nowhere to be found

• he supported the navy and pushed Congress to establish the Navy Department – selecting Benjamin Stoddert for this new cabinet position – a person who did not take orders from Hamilton

• Adams refused to ask Congress for a formal declaration of war • the American people increasingly regarded the idle army as an expensive extravagance

Silencing Political Opposition: the Alien and Sedition Acts • group of bills known as the Alien and Sedition Acts authorized the use of federal courts and the powers of the presidency to silence the Republicans • were born of fear and vindictiveness and would become the nation’s first major crisis over civil liberties

Alien Acts • 1. Alien Enemies Law – gave the president extraordinary wartime powers – could detain or deport citizens of nations which the US was at war and who behaved in a suspicious manner

• 2. Alien Law – empowered the president to expel any foreigner from the US simply by executive decree – was limited to two years, but the mere threat of arrest caused some Frenchmen to flee the country

• 3. Naturalization Law – established a fourteen year probationary period before foreigners could apply for full US citizenship – designed to keep “hordes of wild Irishmen” away from the polls as long as possible

Sedition Act

Cutout of a newspaper broadside on the trial of Thomas Cooper, a lawyer and newspaper editor who was indicted, prosecuted, and convicted of violating the Sedition Act.

• defined criticism of the U.S. government as criminal libel and citizens found guilty by a jury were subject to fines and imprisonment – many Republicans were concerned that the Sedition Law undermined rights guaranteed in the First Amendment – were also worried about the federal judiciary’s expanded role in punishing sedition • believed such matters were best left to state officials

• Matthew Lyon – Republican congressman who publicly accused Adams and his administration of mishandling the Quasi-War

• was known as the “Spitting Lyon” after who spat in the eye of a Federalist congressman – also took part in a fistfight on the floor of Congress

• Federalist court was happy to have the opportunity to convict him of libel – but while he sat in jail, his constituents re-elected him

• federal courts had become political tools • the efforts at enforcing the Sedition Law did not silence opposition – they actually sparked more criticism and created martyrs • Republicans feared that the survival of free government was at stake

Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions

James Madison

• Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were convinced that the Federalists wanted the creation of a police state • some extreme republicans like John Taylor of Virginia recommended secession from the Union • others supported armed resistance • Jefferson counseled against extreme measures

• Jefferson and Madison would draft separate protests known as the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions – vigorously defended the right of individual state assemblies to interpret the constitutionality of federal law – Jefferson would flirt with the doctrine of nullification • a concept as dangerous to the survival of the U.S. as anything advanced by Hamilton or the High Federalists

• Kentucky Resolution (Thomas Jefferson) – described the federal union as a compact – states did give the national government explicit powers, but rights not specifically mentioned in the Constitution belonged to the states – the “general welfare” clause – Kentucky legislators believed that the Alien and Sedition Acts were unconstitutional and ought to be repealed

• Virginia Resolution (James Madison) – took a more temperate stand – urged the states to defend the rights of the American people – resisted the notion that a single state legislature could or should have the authority to overthrow federal law

15 Star 15 Stripe Flag used after Vermont and Kentucky joined the Union in 1791 and 1792.

• the resolutions were not intended as statements of abstract principles and most certainly not a justification for southern secession • showed American voters that the Republicans offered a clear alternative to Federalist rule

Adam’s Finest Hour • President Adams declared his independence from the Hamiltonian wing of the Federalist party, he had little enthusiasm for war • after the XYZ Affair, Adams received reports that Talleyrand had changed his tune – the bribery episode had been an unfortunate misunderstanding and if the US sent new representatives, he was prepared to negotiate in good faith

• with peace in the future, American taxpayers complained more and more about the cost of maintaining an army – the president was only too happy to dismantle Hamilton’s dream

• William Vans Murray, Oliver Ellsworth, and William Davie arrived in France November of 1799 and found a new government in power, led by Napoleon Bonaparte

• Convention of Morfontaine – French refused to compensate the Americans for vessels taken during the Quasi War – did declare the treaties of 1778 null and void – removed annoying French restrictions on U.S. commerce – Adams efforts would also create an atmosphere of mutual trust that paved the way for the purchase of the Louisiana Territory

The Peaceful Revolution: The Election of 1800 • on the eve of election, the Federalists were divided – Adams enjoyed popularity among the everyday Federalist – party leaders like Hamilton wanted to punish him for his betrayal of their militant policies

• Hamilton attempted to rig the election again so that the Federalist party vice-presidential candidate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney would receive more ballots than Adams and save America from Jefferson

The Election of 1800 Candidate


Electoral Vote







J. Adams



C. Pinckney



• things did not go as Hamilton had planned – Jefferson and his running mate Aaron Burr tied

• the election then went to the House of Representatives, a lame-duck body still controlled by members of the Federalist party • each state delegation cast a single vote, with nine votes needed for election

• after dozens of ballots the House had still not selected a president and the drama dragged on for days – Burr refused to withdraw

• leading Federalists decided that Jefferson would make a more responsible President and James Bayard of Delaware switched his vote giving Jefferson the election • Twelfth Amendment – ratified in 1804, saved America from repeating the election of 1800 – the electoral college would now cast separate ballots for president and vice-president

Aaron Burr

• in the final days of his presidency, Adams appointed as many Federalists as possible to the federal bench the “midnight judges” – one of these, John Marshall, would become chief justice of the United States

• Adams never forgave Hamilton for his actions during Adams term of office

Chief Justice John Marshall

Danger of Political Extremism • the election of 1800 needs to be remembered for what did not occur: – no riots in the streets – no attempted military coup – no secession from the Union – nothing but the peaceful transfer of power from one political party to an opposition party

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