350 DYING FEDERALISM, 1800-1801 [ 422
The Federalists justified the bill flimsily by urging the need of the
separate circuit courts to protect the "overworked" Supreme Court
Justices. But, in plain fact, the Supreme Court had never been over
worked. It had then only ten cases before it, and, in the preceding ten
years of its life, it had had fewer cases than are customary in one year
now. The weakness of the Federalist argument appears in the fact that
the bill ivas repealed at once ( 447) and the old order was restored and
maintained seventy years longer.
422. Adams was not able to make his last appointments
under the new law until late on the last evening of his term of
office ; and the judges so appointed have gone in history by the
name of "the Midnight Judges." One of the worst features of
a thoroughly bad business was that these appointments were used
to take care of Federalist politicians now thrown out of any other
job. The Constitution prevented the appointment of members
of the expiring Congress to any of the new judgeships just
created by them (Art. I, sec. 6) ; but this provision was evaded
with as little compunction as went to thwarting the will of the
people. Former District judges were promoted to the new
Circuit judgeships, and their former places were filled by
" retired " Federalist congressmen. The Federalists, exclaimed
John Eandolph, had turned the judiciary into " a hospital for
The people at the polls had repudiated certain men for government
positions ; but President Adams, the people's representative, thought it
proper to place those men in more important government positions for life,
where the people could not touch them. This sad abuse of the Presiden
tial power has had much later imitation. Such a practice is repugnant
to every principle of representative government
423. The desperate Federalists tried also to rob the majority
of its choice for the Presidency. This led almost to civil war.
Jefferson and Burr had received the same electoral vote.
Every Kepublican had intended Jefferson for President and
Burr for second place ; but, under the clumsy provision of the
Constitution ( 390) the election between these two was now left
425] ELECTION OF JEFFERSON 351
to the old House of Representatives, in which the Federalists
had their expiring war majority. 1
The Federalists planned to create a deadlock and prevent
any election until after March 4. Then they could declare
government at a standstill and elect the presiding officer of
the old Senate as President of the country. Jefferson wrote
at the time that they were kept from this attempt only by
definite threats that it would be the signal for the Middle States
to arm and call a convention to revise the Constitution.
424. The Federalists then tried another trick which would
equally have cheated the nation of its will. The House of
Representatives had the legal right to choose Burr for President,
instead of Jefferson. It seemed bent upon doing so ; but Hamil
ton rendered his last great service to his country by opposing and
preventing such action. 2 So, after a delay of five weeks, and
thirty-six ballotings, the House chose Jefferson President. Early
in the next Congress the Twelfth amendment was proposed and
ratified, for naming separately President and Vice President
on the electoral ballots.
425. The fatal fault of the Federalist leaders was their funda
mental disbelief in popular government. After Jefferson's
victory, in 1800, this feeling found violent expression. Fisher
Ames, a Boston idol, declared : " Our country is too big for
union, too sordid for patriotism, too democratic for liberty. . . .
Its vice will govern it. ... This is ordained for democ
racies." Cabot, another Massachusetts leader, affirmed, "We
are democratic altogether, and I hold democracy, in its natural
operation, to be the government of the worst." And Hamilton
is reported to have exclaimed, pounding the table with
clenched fist : " The people, sir ! Your people is a great
1 The new House, elected some months before, but not to meet for nearly a
year longer, was overwhelmingly Republican ; but, by our awkward arrange
ment, the repudiated party remained in control at a critical moment.
2 Hamilton does not seem to have felt the enormity of the proposed viola
tion of the nation's will ; but he knew Burr to be a reckless political adventurer,
and thought his election more dangerous to the country than even the dreaded
election of Jefferson.
352 DYING FEDERALISM, 1800-1801 [ 426
beast." Dennie's Portfolio, the chief literary publication of
the time, railed at greater length :
"Democracy . . . is on trial here, and the issue will be civil war,
desolation, and anarchy. No wise man but discerns its imperfections ;
no good man but shudders at its miseries ; no honest man but proclaims
its fraud ; and no brave man but draws his sword against its force."
And Theodore Dwight of Connecticut (brother of the Presi
dent of Yale College), in a Fourth of July oration, asserted :
"The great object of Jacobinism 1 ... is to destroy every trace of
civilization in the world, and force mankind back into a savage state.
. . . We have a country governed by blockheads and knaves ; the ties
of marriage are severed and destroyed; our wives and daughters are
thrown into the stews; our children are cast into the world from the
breast and forgotten ; filial piety is extinguished ; and our surnames, the
only mark of distinction among families, are abolished. Can the imagi
nation paint anything more dreadful on this side hell ? "
It was but a step from such twaddle to suspect Jefferson of
designs upon the property or the life of Federalist leaders.
Gouverneur Morris 7 diary for 1804 contains the passage :
"Wednesday, January 18, I dined at [Eufus] King's with
General Hamilton. . . . They were both alarmed at the con
duct of our rulers, and think the Constitution about to be
overthrown : I think it already overthrown. They apprehend
a bloody anarchy : I apprehend an anarchy in which property,
not lives, will be sacrificed." And Fisher Ames wrote : " My
health is good for nothing, but ... if the Jacobins make
haste, I may yet live to be hanged." In 1804, in a Connecticut
town, an applauded Fourth of July toast to the " President of
the United States " ran " Thomas Jefferson : may he receive
from his fellow citizens the reward of his merit a halter ! "
426. These faults must not obscure the vast service the
Federalists had rendered. Alexander Hamilton is the hero of the
twelve-year Federalist period. He should be judged in the main
by his work in the years 1789-1793. During that critical era,
1 A term borrowed from the French Revolution, and applied to the Repub
licans by their opponents.
lie stood forth as no other man of the day could have done
as statesman-general in the conflict between order and anarchy,
union and disunion. His constructive work and his genius
for organization were
then as indispensable
to his country as
faith and inspiration
were to be later. Ex
cept for Hamilton,
there would hardly
have been a Nation
for Jefferson to Ameri
canize. We may re
joice that Hamilton
did not have his whole
will ; but we must rec
ognize that the forces
he set in motion made
the Union none too
strong to withstand
the trials of the years ALEXANDER HAMILTON. From the painting by
that followed. Trumbull in the School of Fine Arts at Yale.
Those centralizing forces may be summarized concisely. The tre
mendous support of capital was secured for almost any claim the govern
ment might make to doubtful powers. Congress set the example of
exercising doubtful and unenumerated powers; and a cover was devised for
such practice in the doctrine of implied powers. The appellate jurisdiction
conferred on the Supreme Court was to enable it to defend and extend
this doctrine. Congress began to add new States with greater depend
ence of feeling upon the National government. And the people at
large began to feel a new dignity and many material gains from a strong
JEFFEESONIAN REPUBLICANISM, 1800-1830
AMERICA IN 1800
427. From Jefferson to Lincoln, six great lines of growth mark
our history : our territory expanded tremendously ; we won our
intellectual independence from Old World opinion ; democracy
spread and deepened ; our industrial system grew vastly com
plex; slavery was abolished; and Nationalism triumphed over
428. Territorial expansion was the warp through which ran
the other threads of growth. The expansion of civilization
into waste spaces marked world history in the nineteenth cen
tury. England and Russia led in the movement ; but not
even for them was this growth so much the soul of things as
it was for us.
It made us truly American. Our tidewater communities re
mained " colonial " in feeling long after they became inde
pendent politically, still hanging timorously on Old-World
approval. Only when our people had climbed the mountain
crests and turned their faces in earnest to the great West, did
they cease to look to Europe for standards of thought.
It made us democratic. The communities progressive in
politics have always been the frontier parts of the country,
first the western sections of the original States, and then suc
cessive layers of new States.
It created our complex industrialism, with the dependence of
429] EXPANSION : ITS MEANING 355
one section upon another ; and so it bf ought on our conflict be
tween slave and free labor.
It fostered nationality. The original thirteen States, scat
tered amid the forests and marshes of the Atlantic slope, long
clung to their jealous, separatist tendencies. But expansion
into the Mississippi valley, wrought out by nature for the
home of one mighty industrial empire, transformed that hand
ful of jangling communities into a continental nation.
Europe is " convex " toward the sky. Mountains and seas form many
walls and moats, and rivers disperse from the center toward the extremi
ties. And so ten nations there divide an area smaller than the Missis
sippi valley. America is a "vast concave." Its mountains guard the
frontiers only. Its streams concentrate, and so tend to unity industrial
429. Throughout the nineteenth century, Americans exulted in
their country's growth. Sometimes, it is true, this exultation
expressed itself clumsily, as cheap spread-eagleism or insolent
jingoism ; and well-meaning critics, more refined than robust,
saw in the buoyant self-confidence of the people only vulgar
and grotesque boastfulness about material bigness. But the
plain people felt a truth that the cultured critic missed.
They knew that this growth was not mere growth. The
sinewy, saturnine frontiersman, winning a home for his chil
dren in the wilderness with his long rifle and light axe, was
building also the home needful for the true life of the nation.
The Titanic struggle with a savage continent was the great
American epic; and it fired the heart and imagination of a
hardy race. First among American writers, Lowell fixed that
poem in words, and happily in the dialect of the original
" O strange New World ! That never yit wast young ;
Whose youth from thee by grippin' need was wrung ;
Brown foundlin' o' the woods, whose baby-bed
Was prowled roun' by the Injun's cracklin' tread,
And who grewst strong thru shifts, and wants, and pains,
Nursed by stern men with empires in their brains,
356 AMERICA IN 1800 [ 430
Who saw in vision their young Ishmael strain
In each hard hand a vassal Ocean's mane !
Thou taught by freedom, and by great events,
To pitch new States as old- World men pitch tents ! "
430. This larger America had marvelous physical advantages.
For communication with the outside world, the two oceans and
the Gulf give to the United States a coast line equaled only
by Europe's. Rivers and the shore of the Great Lakes add
19,000 miles of navigable interior .waterways, a condition
absolutely beyond parallel in any other equal portion of the
globe. More than four fifths of these water roads are grouped
in the Lake system and the Mississippi system. These are
virtually one vast system, opening on the sea on two sides
and draining more than a million square miles of territory.
This gives to cities a thousand miles inland the advantages
of seacoast ports, and binds together, for instance, Pittsburg
and Kansas City, on opposite slopes of the great valley a
thousand miles across.
Above the limit of navigation, these streams, and others,
furnish an unrivaled water power. Many years ago, Professor
Shaler estimated that the energy already derived from the
streams of this country exceeded that from the streams of all
the rest of the world. This power was of particular impor
tance in colonial days. Then, for a hundred years, it lost
value, relatively, after the invention of steam. But now,
with new devices to turn it into electric power, it looms again
a chief factor in future wealth.
The Appalachian system contains rich deposits of coal and
iron in close neighborhood ; while the Great Lakes make com
munication easy between Appalachian coal and Lake Superior
iron. Other mineral deposits needful in industry exist in
abundance, well distributed over the country, copper, lead,
zinc, building stone, gold and silver, salt, phosphates, clays,
cements, graphite, grindstones, and a small amount of alumi
num. In 1800, great forests still stretched from the Atlantic
to Illinois, Western Kentucky, and Northern Minnesota ; and
AMERICA IN 1800
the vast woods of the Pacific slope became ours at a later
431. The population in 1800 counted 5,308,483, of whom a
fifth were slaves. 1 Two thirds of the Whites were north of
Mason and Dixon's line ( 171) and nine tenths of the whole
population dwelt east of the mountains. The land was untamed,
forests hardly touched, and minerals undisturbed. Even in
the coast district, settlement had only spotted the primeval
wilderness ; and rough fishing hamlets marked havens where
now bristle innumerable masts and smokestacks.
432. The great bulk of the people lived in little agricultural
villages or in the outlying cabin farms. Less than one twentieth
MOVEMENT OF CENTERS OF POPULATION (0) AND MANUFACTURES (+).
The Census Bureau did not determine the center of manufactures for 1 ( J10.
were " urban." By the first census (1790), only six towns had
six thousand people : Philadelphia, 42,500 ; New York, 32,000 ;
Boston, 18,000; Charleston, 16,000; Baltimore, 14,000; and
Providence, 6000. By 1800 these figures had risen to 70,000,
60,000, 24,000, 20,000, 26,000, and 8000. The first three cities
had begun to pave their streets with cobblestones, to light
them with dimly flaring lamps, and to bring in wholesome
drinking water in wooden pipes ; but police systems and fire
protection hardly existed, and the complete absence of sewers
resulted in incessant fevers and plagues.
1 Population had more than doubled since Lexington. Cf. 200.
1791 Vermont admitted as a Free State
1792 Kentucky admitted as * Slave State
1796 Tennessee admitted as a Slave State
1799 Indiana Territory organiie3
434] ROADS AND TRAVEL 359
433. The westward march of our population had barely begun.
In 1800 the " center of population " was eighteen miles west of
Baltimore. Ten years before, it had been forty-one miles far
ther east. The-half million people west of the mountains dwelt
still in four or five isolated groups, all included in a broad, ir
regular wedge of territory with its apex reaching not quite to
the Mississippi (map, facing p. 269). The greater part of our
own half of the great valley was yet unknown even to the
frontiersman. In his inaugural, Jefferson, enthusiast that he
was regarding his country's future, asserted that we then had
" room enough for our descendants to the hundredth and even
thousandth generation." Before his next inaugural, he was to
double that territory.
434. Communication remained much as before the Revolution.
The States had little more intercourse with one another, as yet,
than the colonies had enjoyed. The lowest letter postage was
eight cents : from New York to Boston it was twenty cents.
In 1790 there were only 75 post offices in the country * for
a territory and population which under modern conditions
would have some 6000. A traveler could jolt by clumsy and
cramped stagecoach, at four miles an hour, from Boston to New
York in three days, and on to Philadelphia in two days more
longer than it now takes to go from Boston to San Francisco.
Such travel, too, cost from three to four times as much as
modern travel by rail. South of the Potomac, traveling was
possible only on horseback with frequent embarrassments
from absence of bridges or ferries. Between 1790 and 1800, a
few canals were constructed, and attention was turning to the
possibilities in that means of communication. Freights by
land averaged, it is computed, ten cents a mile per ton, even in
the settled areas, or ten times the rates our railroads charge.
Merely to move sugar from the coast to any point 300 miles
inland cost more than sugar sells for to-day anywhere in the
1 This was three times the number at the opening of the Revolution. Eng
land had introduced a postal system into the colonies, but it was very crude.
LIFE IN 1800
435. Occupations had changed little since 1775 ( 203 ff.).
The year after the peace with England saw the first American
voyage to China ; and shipmasters began at once to reach out
for the attractive profits of that Oriental trade. . The European
wars were favoring our carrying trade with the Old World. John
Jacob Astor was organizing the great American Fur Company,
to follow the furs into the far Northwest. Manufactures were
making a little progress. A few iron mills were at work ; and,
between 1790 and 1812, some of the machinery recently in
vented in England for spinning and weaving cotton was intro
duced. In England, by 1800, such machinery had worked an
AN EARLY COTTON GIN. By the courtesy of the Library of Congress.
" Industrial Eevolution " ; l but it did not come into use exten
sively here until nearly 1830 (528 ff.).
436. Eor America the chief result of the Industrial Revolu
tion at this time was England 1 s increased demand for raw cotton
for her new factories. Cotton had been costly because the seed
had always had to be separated from the fiber by hand. But
1 Modern World, chs. xlii-xliv.
WAGES AND FRUGALITY
in 1793 Eli Whitney, a Connecticut schoolmaster in Georgia,
invented an " engine " for this work. This cotton gin was
simple enough to be run by a slave ; and with it one man could
" clean " as much cotton as 300 men could by hand. Southern
planters at once gave their attention to meeting the new English
demand. In 1791 we exported only 200,000 pounds : in 1800
the amount was 100 times that; and this was doubled the third
year after. Soon the South could boast, " Cotton is King."
437. Farming tools and methods had improved little in four
thousand years. The American farmer with strenuous toil
FARM TOOLS. The wagon is the only machinery not here included.
scratched the soil with a clumsy wooden homemade bull plow.
He had no other machines for horses to draw, except a rude
harrow and a cart. He sowed his grain by hand, cut it with
the sickle of primitive times, and thrashed it out on the barn
floor with the flail older than history if he did not
tread it out by cattle, as the ancient Egyptians did. The first
threshing machine had been invented in 1785, but it had not
yet come into use. The cradle-scythe a hand tool, but a vast
improvement over the old sickle was patented in 1803. The
first improvements on the plow date from experiments on
362 LIFE IN 1800 [ 438
different shapes of mold boards by Thomas Jefferson. Soon
after 1800 appeared the cast-iron wheeled plow. This was soon
to work a revolution permitting deeper and more rapid tillage ;
but for some years farmers refused to use it, asserting that the
iron " poisoned " the ground. Drills, seeders, mowers, reapers,
binders, were still in the future.
438. In the cities a small class of merchants imitated in a
quiet way the luxury of the corresponding class in England,
with spacious homes, silver-laden tables, and, on occasion,
crimson-velvet attire. The great planters of the South, too,
lived in open-handed wastefulness, though with little real
comfort. Otherwise American society was simple and frugal,
with a standard of living far below that of to-day. Necessities
of life cost more (so far as they were not produced in the home),
and wages were lower. Hodcarrier and skilled mason received
about half the wage ( in purchasing value ) paid for corresponding
labor to-day, and for a labor day lasting from sunrise to sunset. 1
The unskilled laborers who toiled on the public buildings and
streets of Washington from 1793 to 1800 received seventy
dollars a year " and found " which did not include clothing.
And the income of the professional classes was insignificant by
Says Henry Adams (I, 21) : " Many a country clergyman, eminent for
piety and even for hospitality, brought up a family and laid aside some
savings on a salary of five hundred dollars a year. President Dwight [of
Yale] . . . eulogizing the life of Abijah Weld, pastor of Attleborough,
declared that on a salary of $ 250 Mr. Weld brought up eleven children,
besides keeping a hospitable house and maintaining charity to the poor."
Such ministers usually eked out their salaries by tilling small farms with
their own hands.
The homes of farmers and mechanics found clean sand a sub
stitute for carpets, and pewter or wooden dishes sufficient for
tableware. There was no linen on the table ; nor prints on the
1 These wages were fifty per cent better than before the Revolution, so that
John Jay, high-minded gentleman that he was, complains bitterly about the
"exorbitant" wages demanded by artisans, much as John Winthrop did in
439] FOOD AND CLOTHING 363
walls ; nor many books, nor any periodicals, to be seen (un
less perhaps a small weekly paper). No woman had ever
cooked by a stove. Household lights were dim, ill-smelling
candles, molded in the home, or smoky wicks in whale-oil lamps.
If a householder let his fire " go out," he borrowed live coals
from a neighbor or struck sparks into tinder with flint and steel.
If man or child had to have an arm amputated, or broken bones
set, the pain had to be borne without the merciful aid of
The village shop made and sold shoes and hats. All the
other clothing of the ordinary family was homemade, and from
homespun cloth. The awkward shapes of coat and trousers
that resulted from such tailoring long remained marked features
in Yankee caricature. And says Professor McMaster,
" Many a well-to-do father of a family of to-day expends each year on
coats and frocks and finery a sum sufficient a hundred years ago to have
defrayed the public expenses of a flourishing village, schoolmaster, con
stable, and highways included.''
Farmer, mechanic, and " storekeeper " all had plain food in
abundance, but in little variety. Breakfast, "dinner," and
" supper " saw much the same combinations of salt pork, salt
fish, potatoes and turnips, rye bread, and dried apples, with
fresh meat for the town mechanic perhaps once a week. Among
vegetables not yet known were cauliflower, sweet corn, lettuce,
cantaloupes, rhubarb, and tomatoes ; while tropical fruits, like
oranges and bananas, were the rare luxuries of the rich. Even
the rich could not have ice in summer.
In all externals, life was to change more in the next hundred
years than it had changed in the past thousand.
439. Political standards were low, as we have seen. Says
Professor McMaster (With the Fathers, 71): "In all the
frauds and tricks that go to make up the worst form of
' practical politics ' the men who founded our State and
National governments were always our equals and often our
364 LIFE IN 1800 [ 440
To be sure there was less bribery than in more recent times.
The great corporations, railways, municipal lighting com
panies, and so on, which, in their contest for special privi
leges, were to become the chief source of corrupting later
legislatures and city councils, had not yet appeared. Public
servants had infinitely less temptation to betray their trust for