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Clintonian

The followers of DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828, Governor of New York 1817-1822, 1825-1828), the Clintonians had a life that outlived any other "candidate party" other than the "Jeffersonians" (Republicans) and "Jacksonians" (Democrats). The term first came to use in the 1806 State Assembly elections in New York. "Within New York Republicanism, factional battles developed - first between the Clintonians and Burrites, and then between the Clintonians and Lewisites. In each struggle, Clinton's foes allied with Federalists, and in each the banking power of the Clintonians, exercised through the Manhattan Company, appeared critical to success, emphasizing the ties between Clinton and 'opulent men.' In 1807, Clinton compensated for his increasing distance from the farmers and mechanics who made up the mass of New York voters by backing Daniel D. Tompkins, 'the farmer's boy,' for governor. This step created a Republican alternative to which New York City mechanics and upstate farmers might look for Republican leadership - and an alternative with whom Southerners might ally." (De Witt Clinton and the Rise of the People's Men. Craig Hanyan with Mary L. Hanyan. Montreal, 1996, McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 8) The term found widespread use outside of New York state during the presidential election of 1812 as Clinton became a fusion candidate, running against James Madison with the support of dissident Republicans and Federalists who had no firm candidate of their own. Clinton, after being forced from any political office in 1815, maintained a considerable amount of political power as the primary supporter of the Erie Canal. In 1824, "heading the ticket offered by the People's Movement, he won in an electoral triumph that captured the governorship and almost two-thirds of the state assembly . . . The People's men of New York State launched the earliest broad-based reform movement of the new republic and won control of a state that had one-sixth of the United States' male population. Beginning their effort soon after the introduction of a new state constitution in 1822, the reformers came to power pledged to democratize New York's political process. They accomplished their ends after administering a sharp defeat to the regular Republicans of the State." (Hanyan, p. 4).

"During the campaign [of 1812], Clinton won support from Federalists who were discontented with the Madison administration's entry into a war with Britain that was bound to have devastating effects on the commerce of the United States; the country ought to have peace of adequate protection of its maritime trade." (Hanyan, p 9)

"The Clinton-[New York Chief Justice]-Spencer alliance held together, but over the next three years the tenuous peace within the New York Republican Party dissolved. Two elements fully emerged, each hoping to dominate the politics of New York in the name of true republicanism. Martin Van Buren stood out as the leader of a "Bucktail" opposition that increasingly emphasized the virtue of party regularity, while the Clintonians increasingly emphasized the iniquity of party as a potential vessel of conspiracy and oppression that would enhance the power of government at the expense of social harmony. (fn: Richard Hofstadter, The Idea of a Party System: The Rise of Legitimate Opposition in the United States, 1780-1850, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1969, 219-23)" (Hanyan, p 10)

Additional Sources:

  • The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy: New York as a Test Case. Lee Benson. Atheneum. New York. 1967.
  • De Witt Clinton and the Rise of the People's Men. Craig Hanyan with Mary L. Hanyan. McGill-Queen's University Press. Montreal and Kingston. 1996.
  • The Birth of Empire: DeWitt Clinton and the American Experience, 1769-1828. Evan Cornog. New York, Oxford University Press, 1998.

Bucktail

Also referred to as the Anti-Clintonians, the Bucktails, lead by Martin Van Buren, became a potent political force in New York arising in the Hudson River Valley in the late 1810's and early 1820's. The Bucktails would coalesce around the candidacy of William Crawford as a presidential candidate in 1824.

"The Clinton-[New York Chief Justice]-Spencer alliance held together, but over the next three years the tenuous peace within the New York Republican Party dissolved. Two elements fully emerged, each hoping to dominate the politics of New York in the name of true republicanism. Martin Van Buren stood out as the leader of a "Bucktail" opposition that increasingly emphasized the virtue of party regularity, while the Clintonians increasingly emphasized the iniquity of party as a potential vessel of conspiracy and oppression that would enhance the power of government at the expense of social harmony. (fn: Richard Hofstadter, The Idea of a Party System: The Rise of Legitimate Opposition in the United States, 1780-1850, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1969, 219-23).

Against the Bolingbrokean essence of Clintonianism, which centred on the magistrate as the artificer of social and political harmony and of prosperity, the regulars pitted the notion of harmonious party order. The Van Burenite regulars, the organizing force within Bucktailisim worked to articulate systematic party processes that reached out from three engines of power: the legislative caucus, the junto of managers that became known as the Albany Regency, and the Albany Argus, the newspaper that stood at the centre of an extensive press network. Commending 'regular nominations' and defining which local nominations were regular, the Bucktail press eroded Clinton's Republican following and ultimately his hold on patronage, including the many judicial office holders whom Ambrose Spencer oversaw." (Hanyan, p 10-11)

Additional Sources:

  • The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy: New York as a Test Case. Lee Benson. Atheneum. New York. 1967.
  • De Witt Clinton and the Rise of the People's Men. Craig Hanyan with Mary L. Hanyan. McGill-Queen's University Press. Montreal and Kingston. 1996.