Monday, March 4, 2013

Day 37, March 4

I had always thought mudslinging in politics as a fairly modern phenoomenon.  My reading shows that that is far from the truth.  A bitter election occurred as early as 1800.

To understand that election, we need to look at what was happening not only in the infant United States but in the world as well.

Only a quarter of a century after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the first election of the new 19th century was carried out in an  atmosphere of  a people deeply divided over the scope of the government’s authority. (Does this sound familiar?)  But it was the French Revolution that had  brought about a truly polarizing effect.

That revolution, which had begun in 1789 and did not run its course until 1815, deeply divided Americans. Horrified by the violence of the revolution, Conservatives applauded Great Britain’s efforts to stop it. The most conservative Americans, largely Federalists, were in favor of an alliance with London that would restore the ties between America and Britain.

Jeffersonian Republicans, on the other hand, insisted that these radical conservatives wanted to turn back the clock to reinstitute what they had fought against in the War of Independence.

A few weeks before Adams’ inauguration in 1796, France had decreed that it would not permit America to trade with Great Britain. The French Navy soon swept American ships from the seas,  plunging the economy toward depression. When Adams sought to negotiate a settlement, Paris ignored his envoys.







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