Established in 1663, the proprietary colony of Carolina became the state of North Carolina during the American Revolution. In December of 1776, the North Carolina Provincial Congress ratified the state's first constitution, which established three branches of government: a bicameral General Assembly comprising a Senate and a House of Commons; a judiciary; and a weak executive. Representatives to the legislature were chosen by ballot annually, with each county electing one senator and two members to the House of Commons. Landholding, age, and residency restrictions limited the size of the electorate. The legislature appointed supreme court judges and annually elected the governor and representatives to the United States Congress.
Following the Revolution, Federalists and Anti-Federalists fought for control over the state government. This "critical period" laid the foundation for the clash over ratification of the United States Constitution. North Carolina's delegation to the 1787 Constitutional Convention favored strengthening the central government, but not at the expense of individual liberties or their state's sovereignty. Anti-Federalist representatives to the state's 1788 constitutional convention blocked ratification of the Constitution, but Federalists eventually forced the convening of a second convention. On November 21, 1789, North Carolina became the twelfth state to ratify the Constitution. Anti-Federalists chipped away at Federalist dominance during the next decade and, by 1792, secured a majority in the legislature. The efforts of Federalists such as James Iredell and influential easterners allowed the party to continue to elect candidates to the United States Congress and the governorship, but by 1799, distrust of the central government and growing resentment over the Federalist Party's alliance with the state's eastern elite led to the party's demise.
Swept into power by their platform of state hegemony, strict constitutional construction, tax restraint, and the promotion of smallholder interests, Republicans controlled the state's political future. Republicans confronted a series of problems that included currency inflation, unstable banking, Amerindian resistance to western expansion, inadequate internal improvements, educational deficiencies, economic stagnation, and an undemocratic political system. Despite the progressive efforts of Orange County’s Senator Archibald Murphey, resistance from the state's conservatives and easterners derailed proposed reforms. Despite state Republican support for Jefferson's acquisition of Louisiana Territory and for "Mr. Madison's War," North Carolina increasingly found itself isolated from the rest of the nation, earning the moniker the "Rip Van Winkle State."
The 1820s proved to be a transformative period as divisions emerged within the Republican ranks and a wave of democratization swept the state in the wake of Andrew Jackson's rise to prominence. The Missouri Compromise further fractured the Republican Party, and the 1824 presidential election cemented the state's political realignment. Republican leaders nominated William H. Crawford, alienating many Republicans. That decision led to the formation of a splinter party whose "People's Ticket" nominated Jackson for president and John C. Calhoun for vice president. Jackson won the popular vote in North Carolina, but the state's electoral votes went to Crawford. The 1824 election loosened the political grip of the eastern elite, and the continued political democratization propelled Jackson to victory in the 1828 election.
- Broussard, James H.
"The North Carolina Federalists, 1800–1816."North Carolina Historical Review, 55 (1978): 18–41.
- Butler, Lindley S. and Alan D. Watson, eds.
The North Carolina Experience: An Interpretive and Documentary History.Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1984.
- Cavanagh, John C.
Decision at Fayetteville: The North Carolina Ratification Convention and the General Assembly of 1789.Raleigh, NC: Division of Archives and History, 1989.
- Gilpatrick, Delbert H.
Jeffersonian Democracy in North Carolina, 1789–1816.New York: Octagon Books, 1967.
- Jeffrey, Thomas E.
State Parties and National Politics: North Carolina, 1815–1861.Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989.
- Lefler, Hugh Talmage and Albert Ray Newsome.
North Carolina: A History of a Southern State, 3rd ed.Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1973.
- Powell, William S.
North Carolina: Through Four Centuries.Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1989.
- Risjord, Norman K.
Chesapeake Politics, 1781–1800.New York: Columbia University Press, 1978.
- Trenholme, Louise Irby.
The Ratification of the Federal Constitution in North Carolina.New York: Columbia University Press, 1932.
- Wheeler, John Hill.
Historical Sketches of North Carolina: from 1584 to 1851, compiled from original records, official documents and traditional statements ; with biographical sketches of her distinguished statemen, jurists, lawyers, soldiers, divines, etc.Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott, Grambo and Co., 1851.
- North Carolina History Project
- 1776 North Carolina ConstitutionThe Avalon Project at Yale Law School
The Federalist Party
The Federalist Party was dominated by a man who never actually ran for public office in the United States - Alexander Hamilton. "Alexander Hamilton was, writes Marcus Cunliffe, 'the executive head with the most urgent program to implement, with the sharpest ideas of what he meant to do and with the boldest desire to shape the national government accordingly.' In less than two years he presented three reports, defining a federal economic program which forced a major debate not only on the details of the program but on the purpose for which the union has been formed. Hamilton's own sense of purpose was clear; he would count the revolution for independence a success only if it were followed by the creation of a prosperous commerical nation, comparable, perhaps even competitive, in power and in energy, with its European counterparts." (fn: Marcus Cunliffe, The Nation Takes Shape, 1789-1837, (Chicago, 1959), 23.) (Linda K. Kerber, History of U.S. Political Parties Volume I: 1789-1860: From Factions to Parties. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., ed. New York, 1973, Chelsea House Publisher. p. 11)
"Federalists created their political program out of a political vision. They had shared in the revolutionaries' dream of a Republic of Virtue, and they emerged from a successful war against empire to search for guarantees that the republican experiment would not collapse." (Kerber, p. 3)
"The Federalist political demand was for a competent government, one responsible for the destiny of the nation and with the power to direct what that destiny would be. What was missing in postwar America, they repeatedly complained in a large variety of contexts, was order, predictability, stability. A competent government would guarantee the prosperity and external security of the nation; a government of countervailing balances was less likely to be threatened by temporary lapses in civic virtue, while remaining strictly accountable to the public will." (Kerber, p. 4)
"So long as Federalists controlled and staffed the agencies of the national government, the need to formulate alternate mechanisms for party decision making was veiled; with a Federalist in the White House, Federalists in the Cabinet, and Federalist majorities in Congress, the very institutional agencies of the government would themselves be the mechanism of party. Federal patronage could be used to bind party workers to the Federalist 'interest.' 'The reason of allowing Congress to appoint its own officers of the Customs, collectors of the taxes and military officers of every rank,' Hamilton said, 'is to create in the interior of each State, a mass of influence in favor of the Federal Government.' (fn: Alexander Hamilton, 1782, quoted in Lisle A. Rose, Prologue to Democracy: The Federalists in the South, 1789-1800, (Lexington, Kentucky, 1968), 3.) Federalists though of themselves as a government, not as a party; their history in the 1790's would be the history of alignments within the government, rather than of extrernal alignments which sought to influence the machinery of government." (Kerber, p. 10)
"Major national issues invigorated the process of party formation; as state groups came, slowly and hesitantly, to resemble each other. The issues on which pro-administration and anti-administration positions might be assumed increased in number and in obvious significance; the polarity of the parties became clearer." (Kerber, p. 11)
"As Adams' presidential decisions sequentially created a definition of the administration's goals as clear as Hamilton's funding program had once done, the range of political ideology which called itself Federalist simply became too broad to the party successfully to cast over it a unifying umbrella. Federalists were unified in their response to the XYZ Affair, and in their support of the Alien and Sedition Acts, which passed as party measures in the Fifth Congress, but in little else. The distance between Adams and Hamilton - in political philosophy, in willingness to contemplate war with France, in willingness to manipulate public opinion - was unbridgable; Hamilton's ill-tempered anti-Adams pamphlet of 1800 would be confirmation of a long-established distaste." (Kerber, p. 14)
"One result of the war was to add to Federalist strength and party cohesion. There were several varieties of Federalist congressional opinion on the war: most believed that the Republicans had fomented hard feeling with England so that their party could pose as defende of American honor; many believed that in the aftermath of what they were sure to be an unsuccessful war the Republicans would fall from power and Federalists would be returned to office . . . Regardless of the region from which they came, Federalists voted against the war with virtual unanimity." (Kerber, p. 24)
"As an anti-war party, Federalists retained their identity as an opposition well past wartime into a period that is usually known as the Era of Good Feelings and assumed to be the occasion of a one party system. In 1816, Federalists 'controlled the state governments of Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Massachusetts; they cast between forty percent and fifty percent of the popular votes in New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont...Such wide support did not simply vanish...' (fn: Shaw Livermore, Jr. The Twilight of Federalism: The Disintegration of the Federalist Party 1815-1830, (Princeton, 1962), 265.) Rather, that support remained available, and people continued to attempt to make careers as Federalists (though, probably fewer initiated new careers as Federalists). Because men like Rufus King and Harrison Gray Otis retained their partisan identity intact, when real issues surfaced, like the Missouri debates of 1820, a 'formed opposition' still remained to respond to a moral cause and to oppose what they still thought of as a 'Virginia system.' Each of the candidates, including Jackson in the disputed election of 1824 had Federalist supporters, and their presence made a difference; Shaw Livermore argues that the central 'corrupt bargain' was not Adams' with Clay, but Adams' promise of patronage to Federalists which caused Webster to deliver the crucial Federalist votes that swung the election. If the war had increased Federalist strength, it also, paradoxically, had operated to decrease it, for prominent Federalists rallied to a beleaguered government in the name of unity and patriotism. These wartime republicans included no less intense Federalists than Oliver Wolcott of Connecticut and William Plumer of New Hampshire, both of whom went on to become Republican governors of their respective states, and in their careers thus provide emblems for the beginning of a one party period, and the slow breakdown of the first party system." (Kerber, p. 24)
"The dreams of the Revolution had been liberty and order, freedom and power; in seeking to make these dreams permanent, to institutionalize some things means to lose others. The Federalists, the first to be challenged by power, would experience these contradictions most sharply; a party that could include John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Noah Webster, would be its own oxymoron. In the end the party perished out of internal contradiction and external rival, but the individuals who staffed it continued on to staff its succesors." (Kerber, p, 25)
- History of U.S. Political Parties Volume I: 1789-1860: From Factions to Parties. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., ed. New York, 1973, Chelsea House Publisher.
- The Revolution of American Conservatism: The Federalist Party in the Era of Jeffersonian Democracy. David Hackett Fischer. New York, 1965, Harper and Row.
- The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800. Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick. New York, 1993, Oxford University Press.
The Federalists were referred to by many monikers over the years by newspapers.
- In 1809, The Concord Gazette refers to the Federalist Ticket as the American Ticket.
- Beginning in 1810, the Newburyport Herald (MA), began referring to Federalists as the American Party (as opposed to the "French" Party, who were Republicans). This continued in the 1811 elections.
The Aurora, based in Philadelphia, the most well-known Republican newspaper of the era (see American Aurora: A Democratic-Republican Returns by Richard N. Rosenfeld.) in the February 11, 1800 issue referred to Mr. Holmes, the losing candidate for the Special Election for the Philadelphia County seat in the House of Representatives as an "anti-republican".
The October 7, 1799 issue of the Maryland Herald (Easton) referred to the Federalist ticket of Talbot County as Federal Republicans. It would continue to be used intermittently throughout the next 20 years. Newspapers that used this term included the Gazette of the United States (Philadelphia) and Philadelphia Gazette in 1800, the Newport Mercury in 1808, the New Bedford Mercury in 1810, the True American (Philadelphia) in 1812, the Northumberland Republican (Sunbury) in 1815, the United States Gazette (Philadelphia) in 1816 and the Union (Philadelphia) in 1821 and 1822.
Friends of Peace / Peace / Peace Ticket:
Beginning in 1812 ("In laying before our readers the above Canvass of this county, a few remarks become necessary, to refute the Assertion of the war party, that the Friends of Peace are decreasing in this country." Northern Whig (Hudson). May 11, 1812.) and continuing through to 1815 a number of newspapers referred to the Federalists as the Peace Party (or Peacemaker Party, as the Merrimack Intelligencer (Haverhill) of March 19, 1814 used), as the Peace Ticket or as the Friends of Peace due to their opposition of the War of 1812 (many of these same newspapers referred to the Republicans as the War Party). This use occurred all through at least August of 1815, with the Raleigh Minerva of August 18, 1815 referring to the Federalist candidates as Peace candidates.
These newspapers include the Columbian Centinel (Boston), Merrimack Intelligencer (Haverhill), Providence Gazette, the New York Evening Post, the New York Spectator, the Commercial Advertiser (New York), Northern Whig (Hudson), the Broome County Patriot (Chenango Point), the Independent American (Ballston Spa), the Baltimore Patriot, the Alexandria Gazette, Poulson's, Middlesex Gazette (Middletown), the Political and Commercial Register (Philadelphia), Freeman's Journal (Philadelphia), the Carlisle Herald, Northampton Farmer, Intelligencer and Weekly Advertiser (Lancaster), National Intelligencer (Washington), The Federal Republican (New Bern), the Raleigh Minerva, The Star (Raleigh) and Charleston Courier.
The New Hampshire Gazette (Portsmouth) took the opposite side, listing the Federalists in the March 16, 1813 edition as "Advocates of Dishonorable Peace and Submission."
"The Tyranny of Printers": Newspaper Politics in the Early American Republic. Jeffrey L. Pasley. Charlottesville, 2001, University Press of Virginia.
House of Commons
House of Commons: the lower house of the North Carolina State legislature. Derived from the lower house of the British Parliment. It was changed to House of Representatives by the Constitution of 1868. Please also see House of Representatives.
1790 - 1825: North Carolina
Office Scope: State
Role Scope: County / Town / Borough