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The Ohio State University Bulletin

Volume XXII August, 1917 Number 3

Contributions in History and Political Science Number 4

Western Influences on Political
Parties to 1825 •




Professor of AmerHcan History in
The Ohio State University




In Acknowledgment of a Debt which but Increases with the

Lapse of Years



This study was begun in a search for the key to the political his-
tory of Monroe's presidency, so long superficially known as the Era
of Good Feeling. The quest for the unifying principle of this con-
fused period revealed, however, that it could not be separated from
the events which marked the earlier history of parties, and that it
would be necessary to treat the whole question of the rise and de-
cline of the first pair of parties in the United States — Federalism
and Jeffersonian Republicanism, Due regard for the threads of con-
tinuity in this larger topic required that the operation of forma-
tive influences be traced from about the middle of the eighteenth
century to the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth. The study
has thus become a sketch of our party evolution down to 1825, so
far as that evolution was influenced by new forces and issues re-
leased or raised by the development of new western areas.

It is hoped that the essay may be sufficiently successful to war-
rant a continuation of this type of study for the period since 1825.


August 12, 1916




1. Colonial Antecedents 9

2. The Revolutionary Period 22

3. Rise of the Federalist and Republican Parties 27





1. The Era op Nationalism 81

2. Development of Economic Life and Thought of the West. . 91

3. Divergence of West and South 112






1. Colonial Antecedents

In Europe political parties have divided in the main along
lines of social stratification ; in the United States the lines of cleav-
age have tended to be geographical. The reason for this difference
is that the parties of modern Europe have developed within coun-
tries occupying definitely fixed territories, while in the United
States settlement has expanded over a continent many times out-
measuring the region which it occupied at the beginning of our
national history. The origin of our parties is therefore to be sought
in the variation of social types incident to the westward move-
ment of population from the Atlantic coast, and our party history
is closely connected at every epoch with the changes resulting from
each stage of the westward advance. It was the development of a
group of inland settlements differing in important ways from the
coast communities which first gave rise to those conflicting eco-
nomic interests and social ideals which have furnished the causes
of party groupings throughout our history.^

The forces of social selection began very early in colonial days
to produce differences between the older settlements and the new.

1 "We may trace the contest between the capitalist and the democratic pioneer from the
earliest colonial days." — Frederick J. Turner, in the Aynerican Historical Review, XVI, 227.
The idea of social differentiation as a result of the westward movement was first set forth
clearly by Professor Turner in the essay on "The Significance of the Frontier in American
History," in the American Historical Association Report for 1893.

During the past two decades several writers working independently have produced mono-
graphs dealing with the social development and sectional struggles in so many of the colonies
that it is now possible, by putting together the facts revealed by their researches, to obtain a
fairly comprehensive understanding of the evolution of this group of inland settlements and
of the reasons why they came into conflict with the older communities. The more important
of these monographs are :

Ambler, C. H., Sectionalism in Virginia.

Bassett, J. S., "The Regulators of North Carolina," in Amer. Hist. Assn. Report for 1894.

Becker, C. L., The History of Political Parties in the Province of New York, 1760-1776
(University of Wisconsin Bulletin, History Series, II, No. 1).

Lincoln, C. H., The Revolutionary Movement in Pennsylvania.

Schaper, W. A., "Sectionalism and Representation in South Cai-olina," in Amer. Hist.
Assn. Report for 1900, I.

The whole subject of the foi-mation of the social order of the interior east of the Alle-
ghanies has been summarized by Professor Turner in "The Old West," State Historical Society
of Wisconsin Proceedings for 1908.



The first colonists were frontiersmen, wielding the axe and build-
ing their cabins and rude blockhouses in the forest clearings.
Wilderness conditions gave way with surprising rapidity, however,
to those of settled life, and the frontier line began its westward
march towards the setting sun. Long before it crossed the Alle-
ghanies, the dominant members of the communities first settled
had worked out a measurably satisfactory adjustment between their
ideals and environment, and had set up ecclesiastical, political, and
economic systems which they desired to perpetuate. The hunters,
fur traders, and farmers upon whom fell the chief task of settling
the interior came, on the other hand, from those elements of the
population which were more or less in ill-adjustment with the coast-
al order. Thus it came to pass by the middle of the eighteenth
century that two contrasting societies dwelt between the moun-
tains and the sea, the one occupying the coast lands, the other the
"back country," and thus was prepared the stage for the first party

In the Old Dominion, during the rise of tobacco planting, men
of small means were unable to maintain themselves as land holders
in the fertile valleys of the tidewater, in competition with the
wealthy,^ and found it necessary to retreat either to the more
barren upland between the river courses, or towards their sources,
for on the outskirts of settlement lands were to be had as bounties
for defence of the frontier.^ A distinct sectionalism appeared with-
in the colony even before the close of the seventeenth century, and
furnishes the true clue to Bacon's Rebellion.* A few men of the
upper social class, like Captain William Byrd, of more adventur-
ous nature than most of their kind, interested themselves in fron-
tier lands, but the great majority of the inhabitants of the back
settlements were poor men struggling to gain a foothold by dint
of their own labor. Throughout the colonial period, in fact, most
of Virginia's brilliant society, as well as her wealth and politi-
cal power, centered in the slaveholding plantations of the tide-

- See Bruce, P. A., Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century, I, 527 et seq.,
on the tendency towards large holidngs. We can only conjecture the process by which en-
grossment affected the small farmers, but cf. the displacement, two centuries later, of the
small farmer in the Gulf region by the cotton planter: Phillips, U. B., "Origin and Growth of
the Southern Black Belts," in Amer. Hist. Rev., XI, 798-816. See also helow, 114 and /. n. 101.

' Bruce, Economic History, I, 610 et seq. The practice of "squatting" must have ap-
peared early also. See Ford, A., Colonial Precedents of our National Land System, 113.

* OsKOod, H. A., The American Coloniea in the Seventeenth Century, III, 243-247.


water.^ The Anglican establishment, like the economic system,
tended to drive certain elements of the population from the coast
regions. In the days of intolerance, the exclusion of non-Anglicans
resulted in an overland migration from the James River to Albe-
marle Sound, making North Carolina for a time virtually a frontier
of Virginia, but the tempered ecclesiasticism of the eighteenth
century permitted the settlement of dissenters in the interior, thus
adding another element of contrast with the coast. Although some-
what later in making themselves felt, similar forces came into play
in North Carolina with the rise of the plantation system there,
and with similar results.®

As the social order of the coast plain crystallized, the outlet
to the frontier for those whom the system hampered impeded the
formation of social strata, but stratification after the European
fashion proceeded apace wherever the outlet was stopped. Such
was the case for a time in South Carolina, where access to the in-
terior was difficult because of the broad belt of "pine barrens,"
which ran parallel with the coast and isolated the piedmont. Sub-
stantially all of the good lands lying east of this barrier had been
engrossed by the planters before population began to move into
the district in its rear. Hemmed in on the coast the whites tended
to divide into two classes: the planters and merchants who com-
posed the aristocracy and were bent on such an organization of
industry and government as would promote their own interests,
and a proletariat which would probably have become a negligible
political force. Foreign commerce, the professions, and planting
were considered to be the only respectable vocations, and there
was little room in the economy of the plantation save for the planter
and the slave.^ Farther north. New York affords another example
of the tendency to stratification. Here expansion was retarded by
the Catskills and the Iroquois Confederacy of the Mohawk Valley,
while the system of large land grants in vogue from the days of
the Dutch patroons enabled the landlords to lay claim to available
lands far in advance of settlement. A legal system of small grants
gave a measure of protection to poor settlers who would fight for
their rights, but under the circumstances many preferred lands in

^ Speculative land owning in the Virginia piedmont became common in the eighteenth
century, but most of the population continued to consist of poor fanners with small holdings.
Cf. Turner, "Old West," 205.

•/bid., 207-209.

"< Schaper, "Sectionalism," 274, 804.


other colonies where fee simple titles could be had more easily and
safely. Vast tracts claimed by proprietors therefore remained un-
occupied, while to a greater extent than in any other colony white
cultivators of the soil sank to the status of semi-feudal tenants.^

The rise of an interest strong enough to compete with the
coastal aristocracy was due to the settlement of the interior, and
its story is a part of the history of the coming of the German and
Scotch-Irish immigrants.^ Into New York came, about 1710, Ger-
mans whom Governor Hunter planned to colonize in Livingston
Manor. Dissatisfied with their treatment, the colonists "trekked"
to the valley of the Schoharie, only to find that the lands on which
they had settled were claimed by the avaricious landlords. Once
more, therefore, they dispersed, many going northward to the
Mohawk, where they formed pioneer communities of independent,
democratic farmer folk." Pennsylvania, however, received the
chief influx of foreign immigrants, and from there they spread to
the colonies farther south. By 1725 thousands of German redemp-
tioners and Scotch-Irish were pouring into the colony every year.
The search for unappropriated lands carried them into the interior,
where some of them bought while the rest "squatted," declaring
that "it was against the laws of God and nature that so much land
should lie idle while so many christians wanted it to work on and
to raise their bread."^^ Encountering the mountain ranges, the
later comers, each wave advancing beyond its predecessors, turned
southward, crossed Maryland, invaded Virginia on both sides of
the Blue Ridge, and occupied the piedmont of the Carolinas by the
middle of the century. Swelled in volume by streams entering by
way of Baltimore and the coast of Virginia and the Carolinas, this
German and Scotch-Irish population with a minority of English
intermingled placed itself in possession of the belt of country be-
tween the fall line and the Alleghanies, from the Mohawk to the
Savannah, by the time of the outbreak of the French and Indian

* Turner, "Old West," 195-196; Ballagh, J. C, "The Land System in the South," in
Amer. Hist. Assn. Report for 1897, 110.

^ Germans from the Rhine Valley had played a considerable part in the colonization of
Pennsylvania in the early days of Penn's experiment, but the similarity between their religious
views and those of the Quakers, together with the broad tolerance of the proprietor's govern-
ment, had made for a ready assimilation. Faust, A. B., German Element in the United States,
I, 30-52.

1" Ibid.. I, 73 et seq.

11 Ballagh, "Land System in the South," 112; Turner, "Old West," 216.


War.^- Throughout this region the mean annual temperature is
about the same, owing to the increasing elevation as one goes south-
ward. Soil conditions are also similar, so that the whole belt con-
stitutes a single physiographic province suitable throughout for
grain farming and stock raising." Here the settlers formed a
primitive agricultural society, whose isolated farmers cultivated
small tracts instead of plantations, aided by their sons and women
folk instead of slaves, with subsistence in view at first rather than
production for a market."

Of all the colonies those in New England felt these differenti-
ating influences least. Apart from a few Scotch-Irish settlers the
non-English immigration touched this section but slightly, and the
supervision of town planting by the theocratic governments car-
ried along the Puritan social organization with the expanding
population in a greater degree than was true of the coastal insti-
tutions of any of the colonies south of the Hudson. ^^ Yet the regu-
lations which the Massachusetts Bay Company found necessary
in 1631, governing the admission of freemen with the right of vot-
ing, give evidence that from the very beginning of that colony
there were among the immigrants many discordant spirits whose
presence furnished the elements of social cleavage.^^ As in the
case of Virginia, the story of the expansion of New England is the
story of the geographical segregation of these inharmonious ele-
ments. The exodus to the Connecticut Valley was the first fruit of
dissatisfaction with the Massachusetts order. In this case, because
of the minor character of the differences, the migration merely di-
vided the Puritan population into parts which remained essentially
alike. But the religious controversies which led to the expulsion
of Williams and Hutchinson gave birth to a community on Narra-
gansett Bay of so different a type from those of Boston and Hart-
ford as to cause its exclusion from the New England Confedera-

1- Faust, German Element, I, chaps. 5-8; Hanna, C. A., The Scotch-Irish, II, 60 et seq.:
Greene, S. W., "Scotch-Irish in America," in American Antiquarian Society Proceedings, X,
32-70 ; Kercheval, S., A History of the Valley of Virginia, 45-B5 ; Ford, H. J., The Scotch-Irish
in America, 378-400.

13 Merriam, Life Zones and Crop Zones of the United States, United States Dept. of Agri-
culture, Division of Biological Survey, Bulletin No. 10, 20-24, 30-86.

1* For a fuller description of life in the back settlements, see Schaper, "Sectionalism,"
317 et seq.; Bassett, "Regulators," 144-148; Roosevelt, Th., Winning of the West, I, 101-133;
Ambler, Sectionalism, 13-16.

IB Osgood, American Colonies, I, 429. Cf. regulation of parish organization in South
Carolina, below, 19.

»8 Ibid., I, 153-155.


tion." Even with the more discordant elements driven beyond her
bounds, Massachusetts exhibited a movement parallel to that in
Virginia, by which the frontier became the goal of that part of
her people who found themselves to be out of adjustment with the
life of the older parts. In a general way the impelling forces be-
hind the movement are discernible. The relative difficulty of ob-
taining land, the disfranchisement of the man without property
after the abolition of the religious test, and the privileged position
of the Congregational Church, alike invited the ambitious and ag-
grieved to try their fortunes on a stage where the action was
freer.^^ Especially was this true after the General Court, in the
second quarter of the eighteenth century, relaxed its supervision
over the establishment of new towns, and even offered lands for sale
to the highest bidder instead of restricting grants to groups of ap-
proved character, as in the earlier days. By these processes New
England, like the southern colonies, was slowly divided into two
parts, "the one coastal, and dominated by commercial interests and
the established Congregational churches ; the other a primitive agri-
cultural area, democratic in principle, and with various sects." "

Antagonism was the natural result of the existence side by
side of two societies so diverse as those the formation of which has
been described.^" There were marked differences between the Puri-
tan commonwealths of New England and the "Cavalier" society

1' Admission of the Ehode Island settlements was refused in 1644 and again in 1648 un-
less they would consent to annexation by Massachusetts or Pljrmouth. It would seem that the
ground on which Maine was excluded was equally applicable to the settlements on Narragansett
Bay — "because they ran a different course from us both in their ministry and civil adminis-
tration." Ibid., I, 399. Khode Island was thus a part of the Massachusetts frontier, holding
much the same relation to the Bay Colony that early North Carolina held to Virginia. In the
matter of religious toleration Rhode Island remained essentially "frontier," but in time it de-
veloped a commercial aristocracy, while its political system imposed the usual disabilities upon
the masses, besides some which were not to be found elsewhere. In short, Rhode Island de-
veloped a social class corresponding to the dominant class in other coast regions. But its demo-
cratic element remained strong and active, as is shown by the paper money legislation of the
Confederation. Dorr's Rebellion of 1842 was due to the determination of the people to endure
the remnants of the old aristocratic order no longer.

^* Ibid., 1, 464-466. The struggles of commoners and non-commoners over undivided town
lands seem to be connected with the planting of new towns on the frontier by the discontented.
Cf. Turner, "Old West," 191-192.

1" Ibid., 194.

*° "In general this took these forms: contests between the property-holding class of the
coast and the debtor class of the interior, where specie was lacking, and where paper money
and a readjustment of the basis of taxation were demanded ; contests over defective or unjust
local government in the administration of taxes, fees, lands, and the courts ; contests over un-
fair apportionment in the legislature, whereby the coast was able to dominate, even when its
population was in the minority ; contests to secure the complete separation of church and state ;
and, later, contests over slavery, internal improvements, and party politics in general." Ibid.,


of Old Virginia and her neighbors ; and these differences have be-
come the commonplaces of historians. But it is doubtful whether
the contrast between the maritime and planting colonies is any
sharper than that which distinguished the seaboard from Maine
to Georgia from the interior along the whole frontier line. In Eng-
land Congregationalism and Episcopacy had represented polities
sufficiently diverse to cause civil war ; yet they had this in common
in America, that both embodied the principle of union of church
and state. In the interior, on the other hand, scores of sects flour-
ished side by side on a plane of equality, tolerating one another if
for no other reason than that they could not do otherwise, but
making common cause against the establishments." Between the
Anglican and Congregational colonies moreover there was a posi-
tive economic bond, for planting and maritime commerce were
natural allies. The New England skippers found no inconsiderable
portion of their cargoes in the staples of the South, dependent as
the latter were upon the European market. The alliance of these
interests dates back at least to the Navigation Acts of the Restora-
tion era, and appears in many a political contest down to the period
of tariff controversy in the nineteenth century." The tendency of
both ship-owners and planters was to depend upon foreign sources
for supplies, devoting their energies to the production and market-
ing of the great staple crops. The joint interest of these coastal
groups was quite different from that of the interior population. As
the output of the farms increased beyond the needs of the occupants,
the tendency was to convert the surplus into forms which could be
readily marketed nearby, rather than to seek the foreign market
required by the large-scale operations of the planter. So the back-
country settlers became "manufacturers" in the contemporary
sense of the word, supplying the coast towns with homespun cloth,
smoked meats, and other products of household industry to such
an extent as to affect the carrying trade. The imports of the in-
terior were slight, while in South Carolina, for illustration, the do-

°i The struggle for separation of church and state lasted about half a century, beginning
in Virginia on the eve of the Revolution and culminating in Connecticut in 1818. On Virginia
see James, C. F., Documentary History of the Struggle for Religious Liberty in Virginia. The
struggle in Connecticut is an excellent illustration of the alliance of sects for the common
purpose. There the Episcopalians, Baptists, and others united in the Democratic party, demand-
ing a new constitution and complete equality of denominations. Johnston, Alexander, Connecti-
cut, 352-355 ; Hart, Samuel, et al., eds., Connecticut as a Colony and as a State, 105-119.

^- Cf. votes on tariff bills in 1820 and 1824, on which the representatives of the plant-
ing and commercial regions joined in voting nay.


mestic supply of bread-stuffs and meat afforded by the opening
of the piedmont farms relieved the colony of dependence upon ex-
ternal trade with a consequent decline in its volume and injury
to the shipping interest.-^

The lack of sympathy between the coast and interior is well
shown by the history of currency legislation. The interior where
specie was scarce had much more need of a paper circulation on a
credit basis than was felt by the more developed coast region, but
the legislation of the latter showed little regard for the views and
needs of the frontier. During the French and Indian Wars the
legislatures provided for paper issues to be retired later. The con-
traction of the volume of the circulating medium which accom-
panied retirement was distasteful to the remote part of the popu-
lation, as it interfered with the course of trade and affected the
debtor class adversely.^* Throughout the second half of the eigh-
teenth century, the pioneer belt was the region of paper money
agitation, and Shay*s' Rebellion is the classic illustration of the
explosive quality of the discontent engendered by the denial of re-
lief legislation.25 To the distress which contraction caused in itself
was sometimes added injustice in the means employed in redeem-
ing the issues and in the collection of taxes. Thus in North Caro-
lina the wealthy planters who controlled law-making threw an
unfair burden in the retirement of the issues of 1760 and 1761 upon
the poor farmers by laying a poll tax for the purpose.-^ Other
taxes were payable in specie, which the back settlers could not ob-
tain without delays which enabled grasping officials to distrain
on property and sell it for personal gain, through collusion with

The system of government everywhere was such as to keep the
interior democracies in subordination to the coastal minorities.

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