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History of the Indiana democracy, 1816-1916 online

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3 1833 02141 9996

Gc 977.2 St6hi
Stoll, John B., 1843-1926,
History of the Indiana
democracy, 1816-1916

^Thomas Jefferson filAVANDREW Jackson f


g, I Samuel J Tilden_














N I N E T E E N . S E V E N T E E N



URING the three years that I was engaged in writing this book,
the early history of Indiana naturally often became the sub-
ject of conversation in mingling with educators, legislators,
politicians, editors and men engaged in professional and busi-
ness pursuits. In all these talks but one individual revealed
knowledge of the fact that under the first constitution, in force
from 1816 to 1851, the people of the commonwealth were per-
mitted to vote for and elect only two State officers — Governor
and Lieutenant-Governor. Other State officers were elected
by the General Assembly. Judges were appointed by the Governor.

Among all those with whom I conversed relative to these matters, there
,was not a single one cognizant of the fact that the first constitution of In-
diana never was submitted to popular vote for adoption or rejection, but
became the supreme law of the State as drafted by the constitutional con-
vention, whose members had been chosen by the voters of the territory.

The idea of a responsible leadership and belief in the efficacy of a rep-
resentative government were far more strongly intrenched in the public
mind than may be said to have been the case when in later years popular
delusion gave emphasis to the theory that ability and power to lead meant
curtailment of the right of the people to rule.

Thoughtful perusal of this book will make clear what sort of govern-
ment the founders of the Republic had in mind when they established the
United States of North America. A clear understanding can be gathered
of the principles applied in the formation of this government by closely fol-
lowing the historical recital in the opening chapters. No one can intelli-
gently peruse the pages of this book without becoming greatly enriched in
information that will be found of incalculable value in the exercise of the
prerogatives of citizenship and the performance of duty devolving upon an
alert and patriotic electorate.

[Chapter I.]





pMINALLY, the Democratic
party, whose history in Indiana
it is the purpose of this volume
to narrate, is younger by a
dozen years than the State
itself; but in its principles, al-
though not in its name, it
traces its lineage to Thomas Jefferson,
the author of the Declaration of Inde-
pendence, and in that sense is as old as
the Nation. The State of Indiana, and
the country in which it is an important
commonwealth, have never been without
a political party. Wherever the active
life of the people has been developed, po-
litical parties have always sprung into
existence. An absence of political parties
would be an indication of passive indiffer-
ence to their true interests on the part of
the people, or of tyrannical repression on
the part of their rulers.

The freest and most gifted nations have
the most sharply defined political partisan-
ship. It is not a commendable virtue for
a citizen to stand aloof from political
activity, and it should be a shame rather
than a boast for any intelligent person to
declare that he does not affiliate with or
"belong" to a political party.

Edmund Burke defined a political party
as "a body of men united in promoting, by
their joint endeavors, the national inter-
est in some particular policy or movement
in which they are all agreed." The very
name "party" indicates that each such
body of men represents but a part of the
citizens. Therefore, a party possesses the
consciousness of only one part of the Na-

tion and has no right to attempt to identi-
fy itself with the whole and arrogate to
itself all the virtues and patriotism of the
people. Convinced that its principles are
for the best interests of the public, it may
rightfully combat for them and seek to
have them prevail, but it has no right to
ignore the views of those who differ from
it or to seek the utter destruction of other
parties. In fact, the experience of popu-
lar governments demonstrates that the
public interest is best promoted by the ex-
istence of two nearly equally balanced po-
litical parties.

During the Revolutionary War, which
resulted in the establishment of this Na-
tion, there were but two parties — those
favoring continued allegiance to Great
Britain, and those supporting the move-
ment for independence. The latter called
themselves Patriots, and the others
Tories ; while the former designated them-
selves as Loyalists and their opponents as
Rebels. Doubtless both were sincere, and
high authority has defined a patriot revo-
lutionist as a "simply successful rebel."

The Confederation in which the Colonies
had united to achieve their independence
was soon found inadequate to meet the
exigencies of an independent Nation. So
a convention was called to amend the Arti-
cles of Confederation. At once two par-
ties appeared. One, including Washing-
ton, Hamilton, Franklin and Pinckney, be-
lieved a strong central government neces-
.sary. The other, including Thomas Jeffer-
.son, Patrick Henrj', Samuel Adams,
George Clinton and James Monroe, feared



that the central government, if too power-
ful, would infringe upon the liberty of the
people. The former party was called Fed-
eralist, and the latter Anti-Federalist.
The Federal Constitution, as finally
adopted, was a compromise, providing an
instrument capable of a double interpreta-
tion on the disputed point, and the two
parties continued under the new govern-
ment. The Federalists gave the Constitu-
tion a broad construction with large pow-
ers to the Nation, while the Anti-Federal-
ists gave a strict construction, which made
the States the paramount authority except
in specially defined cases. Alexander
Hamilton was from the first the leader of
the former party, and Thomas Jefferson
was soon recognized as the head of the
latter. Both men were members of Presi-
dent Washington's cabinet. But the Pres-
ident's firm conviction of the necessity for
a strong central government enabled the
Federalists to control the policy of Con-
gress during the first twelve years — the
formative period of the new government.
Besides, through the life tenure of the
members of the Supreme Court, Federal-
ist views on the construction of the Con-
stitution prevailed for many years in the
judicial branch of the government.

Jefl'erson's political sagacity led him
early to perceive that an "anti" party
would not successfully appeal to the peo-
ple, so he sought a party name that should
stand for something affirmative. His own
idealism in connection with a residence in
France made him an admirer of the prin-
ciples set forth by the French in establish-
ing their Republic. Moreover, there pul-
sated throughout this country a feeling of
grateful sympathy for France because of
the assistance she had rendered us in our
war for independence. With shrewd po-
litical wisdom Jefferson appropriated this
sympathy by using the term which the
French had employed and named his party
"Republican." The Anti-Federalists had
already accused Hamilton of influencing

Washington to favor a government mod-
eled after that of England, which, under
popular forms, would, they asserted,
actually establish monarchical or, at best,
aristocratic rule. In fact, in the political
bitterness of the times, the Federalists
were often by their opponents called mon-

The formal beginning of this Repub-
lican party dates from May 13, 1792,
when JeflFerson, still a member of the
Cabinet, addressed a letter to President
Washington in which he said: "The Re-
publican party, who wish to preserve the
government in its present form, are fewer
in numbers than the Monarchical Federal-
ists. They are fewer, even when joined
by the two or three, or half a dozen Anti-
Federalists, who, though they dare not
avow it, are still opposed to any general
government; but being less so to a Re-
publican than to a monarchical one, they
naturally side with those whom they think
pursuing the lesser evil."

This may be taken as the platform of
the Jeffersonian Republican party; and
no political pronouncement was ever more
adroitly worded to appeal to all the dis-
satisfied elements of the people. Its as-
sumption that the Federalists were pre-
paring the way for a monarchy; its ap-
parent solicitude for the preservation of
the Constitution, and its repudiation of
the views of the extreme States' Rights
partisan, were calculated to attract not
only the actual opponents of the adminis-
tration, but the conservative supporters
of the new form of government.

Washington's proclamation of neutrali-
ty in the war between France and Eng-
land brought into prominence a class of
active politicians among the sympathizers
with the former country. They assumed
the name "Democrat" and formed a circle
of societies patterned after the Jacobin
Clubs of Paris. One of them, indeed, the
Charleston Society, actually affiliated with
the Paris Clubs. Their prime instigator


1 9 1

was the French ambassador, Genet. These
societies became quite numerous in the
central and southern states. For a time
they were very active and extremely vin-
dictive in language, branding all who did
not agree with them as enemies of "the
people." They humored the whims and
passions of the more ignorant masses, as-
sumed eccentricities of dress and lan-
guage, and expressed contempt for all
constituted authority. With the natural
instinct of their class to be "agin' the gov-
ernment," they sided with the party of
Jefferson and called themselves, political-
ly, "Democratic-Republicans," and were
particularly vicious in abuse of Washing-
ton. The Federalists were horrified and
the Republican leaders disgusted with
their antics ; nevertheless, the latter were
naturally not averse to receiving the aid
of their votes.

With the same spirit which during the
Civil War led the two political parties at
the North to dub their opponents respect-
ively as "Abolitionists" and "Copper-
heads," the Republicans in those days had
called the Federalists "Monarchists," and
now the Federalists retorted by terming
the Republicans "Democrats."
® These "Democratic-Republicans," how-
05 ever, were not the progenitors of the
^ Democratic party whose illustrious lead-
? ers later helped to build the greatness of
o Indiana. Their societies were regarded in
M those days very much as is the I. W. W.
00 organization at present. A prominent
„ member of the Jeffersonian party, Hon.
Edward Livingston, speaking years after
of the conditions at that time, stated that
gross as were the attacks upon Washing-
ton, they came from Bache, Leib and
Duane, and the noisy and frequently silly
leaders of the professed Democrats; and
it is greatly creditable to the Republicans
proper that their opposition to Washing-
ton's administration was legitimate, and
their public utterances were decorous and
affectionate toward the President per-

Although later writers have applied the
names "Democrat," "Republican," and
"Democratic-Republican" interchangeably
to the party of Jefferson, there is
abundant evidence that for a quarter of
a century the party leaders avoided the
name assumed by the imitators of the
Jacobin Clubs of Paris, and it is said that
Andrew Jackson in those early years de-
nounced the appellation "Democrat" as a
political slander. At any rate, when Jef-
ferson, in his first inaugural, appealing
for the support of the entire American
people, declared "We are all Federalists,
we are all Republicans," he did not men-
tion any Democrats. The fact is that the
suppression of the whisky insurrection,
which those societies were charged with
having incited, and, a little later, the
threatened war with France, virtually
drove them out of existence. It was not
until the odium created by the folly and
extravagancies of their promoters had
been forgotten in the lapse of years, that
the term Democratic in its true sense of
"rule by the demos" — all the people — was
revived in its old glorious Grecian mean-
ing and accepted by a political party in
this country. And that occurred when
the State of Indiana was twelve years

The Federalist party, of which Alex-
ander Hamilton was the acknowledged
leader, had two objectives : First, to form
a government strong enough to make and
hold a place among the nations of the
earth; and, secondly, to create a central
authority sufficiently powerful to coalesce
the diverse and often conflicting interests
of the various states into one general wel-
fare. In pursuit of the first objective
James Madison was in hearty and active
accord with Hamilton, and they worked
together effectively, through the framing
and adoption of the Federal Constitution,
and the first two years of Washington's
administration — the vital period in the
organization of the government. To Madi-


-19 1

son was due very largely the framing of
the "Compromises of the Constitution" —
those phrases on which differing construc-
tions could be and have been placed. It
was as to the meaning of these phrases
that the distinction of "Strict Construc-
tionist" and "Broad Constructionist"
arose. Jefferson, whose absence from the
country as Minister to France from 1785
had prevented him from taking part in
the framing or adoption of the Constitu-
tion, became, on his return in 1789, the
leader of the Strict Constructionists, and
on matters of internal policy he was
joined by Madison. There were, however,
able and patriotic men on both sides of
the question — said question being funda-
mentally", whether the Federal govern-
ment has only limited, strictly defined
powers, leaving the States supreme within
their respective borders, and, in conse-
quence, whether the primary allegiance
of the citizen is due to his State or to the
Nation. This question was not finally set-
tled until it was decided by the arbitra-
ment of arms in the Civil War.

It is interesting to note, however, that
whatever may have been their theory as
to the construction of the Constitution,
the six most noted Presidents have not
hesitated to exercise the broadest govern-
mental and executive authority when, in
their judgment, the "general welfare" de-
manded it. Washington did this in the
whisky insurrection and in his proclama-
tion of neutrality in the war between
France and England; Jefferson did it in
the purchase of Louisiana, and in laying
the embargo; Jackson did it in removing
the bank deposits, and in suppressing
nullification; Lincoln did it in suspending
the writ of habeas corpus and in issuing
the emancipation proclamation; Cleveland
did it in the Chicago strike, and in his
notice to England in the Venezuela mat-
ter, and Roosevelt did it in the anthracite
troubles and in acquiring the Panama
canal zone.

The first popular test between the Fed-
eralist and Republican parties came in the
presidential election of 1796. There were
no formal nominations, but a general as-
sent that the Federalist candidate for
President should be Washington's asso-
ciate as Vice-President, John Adams, and
that the Republican candidate should be
Thomas Jefferson. The electors at that
time voted for two candidates. The one
having the highest vote became President
and the one with the next highest, Vice-
President. As to their second choice, the
Republicans were divided between Aaron
Burr and Samuel Adams — Burr receiving
30 votes and Adams 15. The Federalists
were likewise divided — Thomas Pinckney
of South Carolina having 59, and Oliver
Ellsworth of Connecticut, 11. There were
also a number of scattering votes, Wash-
ington himself receiving one. Of the two
chief candidates, Adams received 71 votes
and Jefferson 68. Thus Adams became
President and Jefferson Vice-President.
A. K. McClure, in his book, "Our Presi-
dents and How We Make Them," says of
this election: "In no modern national
campaign have the candidates been so ma-
liciously defamed as were those in this
contest of the fathers of the republic.
Jefferson was denounced as an unscrupu-
lous demagogue, and Adams was de-
nounced as a kingly despot without
sympathy for the people and opposed to
every principle of popular government."

The alien and sedition laws enacted dur-
ing Adams' administration were an ex-
treme exercise of centralized power. They
were aimed at the practices of the Demo-
cratic societies, but were opposed by
Hamilton as uncalled for, unwise, and a
fatal political blunder. They tended, as
he foresaw, to make the Federalist ad-
ministration obnoxious to the people.
Washington died during the last days of
the year 1799, and the campaign of 1800
was a repetition of that of four years
previous, both in the personality of the



18 16-191

candidates and the virulence of the oppos-
ing sides. This time each party voted
unitedly for its two candidates, giving the
opportunity for a tie. The Republicans
had 73 electoral votes for Jefferson and
Burr, and the Federalists 65 for Adams
and Pinckney. As the vote was a tie be-
tween Jefferson and Burr, and as each had
a majority of the electoral college, the
House of Representatives, under the Con-
stitution, had to elect one of the two as
President, whereupon the other would be-
come Vice-President. As the Federalists
were "out of it" so far as a candidate of
their own was concerned, their Represen-
tatives in Congress either abstained from
voting, or voted as personal or partisan
motives influenced them. The voting was
by States, and the contest continued seven
days. Hamilton, regarding Jefferson as
much the safer man for President, cast
his influence in his favor and he finally
received the votes of ten States to four
for Burr and two blank.

This action of Hamilton aroused the un-
dying hatred of Aaron Burr, and was the
underlying cause of the challenge to a
duel, which the "code of honor" of that
day compelled Hamilton to accept, and in
which he was killed. Before his death,
however, Hamilton had warmly sustained
the action of Jefferson in the acquisition
of Louisiana, although most of the Fed-
eralists, for partisan reasons, denounced
the purchase as bitterly as latter-day anti-
imperialists have denounced the acquisi-
tion of Porto Rico and the Philippines.
Indeed, such is the course of politics that
had Hamilton lived it is not a violent pre-
sumption that he and Jefferson would have
been actively co-operating for the good
of the country.

Adams took his defeat hard. He packed
his goods and left the White House at
midnight of March 3. Still time tempers
even the asperities of politics. Adams
lived to see his son hold important offices
under Jefferson and his successors, and

even to be a Republican President. There
was, moreover, friendly correspondence
between Jefferson and Adams, and both
died on the Fourth of July, 1826 — the
fiftieth anniversary of the day made
memorably glorious by their mutual
action in the Continental Congress.

Burr resigned the Vice-Presidency, bade
farewell to the Senate in a speech that
moved even his enemies to tears, em-
barked upon a scheme to wrest Mexico
from the Spaniards and establish either
an independent republic or an empire, was
tried for treason on the charge that he
intended to seize part of Louisiana in the
scheme, and, though acquitted, was thor-
oughly discredited, and died in poverty
and obscurity.*

The experience at this election led to
an amendment of the Constitution estab-
lishing the present system of electing the
President and Vice-President by separate
votes of the electors.

In the administration of his office Jef-
ferson practiced the democratic simplicity
of manners which he professed. He
avoided all pomp and ceremony. The
stories of his hitching his horse to the
fence on the occasion of his inauguration,
and of his receiving foreign ministers in
dressing-gown and slippers, are probably
as mythical as the tale of Washington and
the cherry tree, or of Jackson's smoking

*The retirement of Aaron Burr from the Vice-
Presidency before the expiration of his term has
been variously treated by historians. Some have
entirely ignored it, and some have called it "resig-
nation." Parton says he "took leave of the Sen-
ate," and gives a dramatic account of the scene
when the Senators, moved to tears by Burr's elo-
quence, unanimously adopted resolutions extolling
his fairness as presiding officer, and proceeded to
elect one of their number as president pro-tem to
succeed him. The event occurred during execu-
tive session March 2, 1805. Burr's motive can
only be surmised. He himself quietly attributed
it to "indisposition," which might refer to physical
illness and might mean that he was "indisposed"
to participation in the installation of his hated
enemy, George Clinton, the vice-president elect.
Possibly he desired the spectacular effect actually
produced. But, whatever his motive, or by what-
ever name the act be designated, Aaron Burr abso-
lutely relinquished the Vice-Presidency two days
before his term of office expired.




a corn-cob pipe while transacting business
with representatives of other nations.
But, instead of delivering his inaugural
address in person, as Washington and
Adams had done, after the manner of the
King of England to Parliament, he sent in
a written message to be read by the clerk,
thus establishing a precedent that was fol-
lowed by all of his successors until the
time of Woodrow Wilson, who returned
to the practice of Washington.

For the elections of 1804, formal nomi-
nations were for the first time made. The
Republican members of Congress met in
caucus and renominated Jefferson for
President, at the same time nominating
George Clinton of New York for Vice-
President. This was the beginning of the
Congressional caucus nominations which
continued until the time of Jackson. It
was, however, but the nationalizing of a
practice that had grown up in several
States, by which the members of the
Legislatures in their respective party cau-
cuses had named candidates for State
offices and Congressmen, and sometimes
indicated the choice of the State for Presi-
dent. The Federalists made no open nomi-
nations, but their leaders united on
Charles C. Pinckney of South Carolina for
President and Rufus King of New York
for Vice-President. The election showed
the complete collapse of the Federalist
party. Jefferson and Clinton had 162
electoral votes, while Pinckney and King
had but 14.

The early custom had been for the Vice-
President to follow as President. Adams
had been Vice-President under Washing-
ton, and Jefferson under Adams. But as
Jefferson's second term approached its
close there were indications that he pre-
ferred his Secretary of State, James Madi-
son, for his successor. There was some
demurring in Virginia where the friends
of James Monroe, feeling that he had not
been treated fairly, urged him for the
presidency. The Congressional caucus,

however, was controlled by the friends of
Madison, and nominated him for Presi-
dent, re-nominating George Clinton for
Vice-President. There was considerable
ill feeling, especially in Virginia, where
the "Quids," led by John Randolph of
Roanoke, for a time threatened a serious
defection. The trouble, however, was al-
layed by the influence of Jefferson, who
arranged that Monroe should enter the
Cabinet as Secretary of State, and thus
be in line as Madison's successor, accord-
ing to the new order of promotion. The
Federalists again informally accepted
Pinckney and King as candidates without
nomination, and made a desperate rally
to regain power. The result was a slight

Online LibraryJohn B. StollHistory of the Indiana democracy, 1816-1916 → online text (page 1 of 168)