Map of Indiana

Indiana was originally part of the Northwest Territory, established under the Ordinance of 1787. In the earliest stage of the Northwest Territory, most of the European Americans in what would become Indiana were the French inhabitants of Vincennes, and they were ruled by a governor, Arthur St. Clair; a secretary; and three judges, all appointed by the president with the consent of the Senate. The governor and judges had the power to pass all necessary laws by adopting laws from the already established states; the governor also had the power to appoint all civil officers at the county level. In 1798 the Northwest Territory entered into its second stage, permitting the establishment of a bicameral General Assembly, which, meeting in joint session, would select a nonvoting delegate to the U.S. Congress. One half of the General Assembly was a House of Representatives, made up of men who were elected for two-year terms by all free men over twenty-one holding fifty or more acres of land. The second half was a Legislative Council, whose membership was selected as follows: The House would draw up a list of ten candidates, from whom the resident would select five. In this second stage, the governor retained the right to select county officials, but the General Assembly defined the powers of these offices. For most of modern Indiana, this second stage of self-government was short-lived; in 1800, the Indiana Territory, which included present-day Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, and the western half of Michigan, most of the state was split from the Northwest Territory. Because few European Americans lived in this new territory, it was organized once again without representative government, with William Henry Harrison appointed governor (1800–1813) and governing much as the Northwest Territory had been governed in its first stage. In 1803 the state of Ohio was formed from the Northwest Territory, and a small "gore" east of the Greenville Treaty line was added to Indiana Territory, together with the eastern half of present-day Michigan.

The 1800 act establishing Indiana Territory provided for the residents of Indiana to move to the second stage of territorial government without regard to population, if the move was the will of the people. In 1804, in an election in which only 400 hundred votes were cast, Indiana residents signaled their desire to move into the second stage, and in 1805, Governor Harrison set into motion the creation of a General Assembly with seven members in the House of Representatives. In the midst of moving to the second stage, Michigan was established as a separate territory by Congress in 1805. In accommodating the desires of European American residents, Harrison showed greater wisdom than Arthur St. Clair, who had attempted to slow the progression of the Northwest Territory into statehood until two Federalist states could be created. Harrison, though initially appointed by Federalist Adams, won the favor of Jeffersonian Republicans and was reappointed by both Jefferson and Madison. Despite his ability to navigate national politics, Harrison was unable to avoid the distrust of his executive power that lay at the heart of the earlier conflicts with St. Clair; much of this suspicion revolved around the issue of the introduction of slavery into the territory. Even before Harrison's arrival in Indiana, some in the territory had sought to repeal the Ordinance of 1787's ban on slavery in the territory, and Harrison allied himself with the effort to repeal. Congress was deaf to these petitions, but in both the first and the second stage, Harrison and his allies passed laws that introduced African American servitude. As the territory became more settled, a regional split appeared; those living in southeastern and south central Indiana tended to oppose slavery, whereas those living in the Wabash Valley and the Illinois country tended to support slavery. Eventually, the supporters of slavery themselves were split: Illinois country supporters believed that being a separate territory, and ultimately a separate state, would best bring slavery to their communities. Thus Harrison and his Wabash Valley allies were left in a minority in Indiana Territory when Illinois Territory was created in 1809, leaving Indiana with approximately its modern boundaries, plus a segment of the Upper Peninsula of modern Michigan. The easterner-versus-westerner split in Indiana politics would remain evident for some time.

Indianans repeatedly petitioned the U.S. Congress for a more democratic territorial government. In 1808 Congress extended the suffrage to those owning town lots and those in the act of purchasing public lands, but the act specifically excluded nonwhites. In 1809 Congress provided for the direct election of the Legislative Council and of the nonvoting delegate to the Congress. In 1811 Congress further extended the suffrage to all white men over twenty-one who had paid a local tax and who had resided in the territory for one year. In 1811 the territorial General Assembly changed the method of voting from viva voce to ballot. About this time, Harrison, who had been accused abusing his power over local officials, acceded to popular will and began holding extralegal elections for sheriff when vacancies occurred, appointing the winners. Harrison resigned in the midst of the War of 1812, and Madison appointed Thomas Posey governor (1813–1816); Virginian Posey reassured Indianans that he opposed slavery. The forces that had opposed slavery in Indiana Territory had already begun to drive toward statehood, coalescing behind congressional delegate (1809–1816) Jonathan Jennings. As early as 1811, Indiana petitioned to become a state, which in the minds of many residents would assure them of their full rights as citizens of a democratic republic.

In 1816 Congress authorized Indiana to write a state constitution. Responding to the belief that the territorial governors exercised excessive powers, the framers of this constitution provided for a weak governor, one whose vetoes could be overridden by a simple majority in both houses of the state legislature, which was a General Assembly composed of a Senate, one-third of whose members were elected each year, and a House of Representatives, whose members were elected annually. The governor was also elected for a three-year term, and there was a separate elected office of lieutenant governor. The other executive officers (secretary of state, auditor, and treasurer and the presiding judges of the circuit courts were elected by joint ballot of both houses of the legislature. The governor did appoint, with the consent of the Senate, the three justices on the state supreme court. County officials, including the associate judges for each county, were popularly elected. The suffrage was further extended to all white men over twenty-one who had lived in the state for one year, and all voting was to take place by ballot. (The state constitution gave the 1821 legislature the one-time option of changing the voting to viva voce; that option was not exercised.)

Rewarded for his shepherding in Congress of Indiana's democratic desires, Jonathan Jennings was elected the new state's first governor. By his second term, concerns about his improper exercise of executive power began to coalesce. Jennings was closely allied with the State Bank created in 1816, and concerns over its failure in the wake of the Panic of 1819 raised concerns about Jennings as well. He nevertheless was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1822, taking the place of Williams Hendricks, who had resigned the congressional seat to become governor (1822–1825). Jennings was concurrently elected to one of the three new congressional seats established after the 1820 census redistricting. This horse-trading of offices, combined with the bank’s failure and the use of patronage by both Hendricks and Jennings, stirred dissatisfaction among an unorganized cohort of Indiana voters. Such dissatisfaction began to coalesce around the presidential candidacy of Andrew Jackson, and in 1824, the voters in Indiana had their first opportunity to vote for presidential electors (the legislature had picked Indiana's Monroe electors in 1816 and 1824), and Jackson captured 47 percent of the vote. Despite supporting either Clay or Adams, men such as Jennings, Hendricks, and James Noble (U.S. Senator, 1816–1831) retained sufficient popular appeal because of their role in leading Indiana to statehood.


  • Barnhart, John D. and Dorothy Riker. Indiana to 1816: The Colonial Period. Volume 1 of The History of Indiana. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1971.
  • Carmony, Donald F. Indiana, 1816–1850: The Pioneer Era. Volume 2 of The History of Indiana. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Bureau and Indiana Historical Society, 1998.
  • Mills, Randy Keith. Jonathan Jennings: Indiana's First Governor. Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 2005.
  • "Indiana Documents Leading to Statehood." Indiana Historical Bureau.
  • "Road to Indiana Statehood." The Digital Collections of IUPUI Library.
  • Nation, Richard F. At Home in the Hoosier Hills: Agriculture, Politics, and Religion in Southern Indiana, 1810–1870. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.


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)

Additional Sources:

  • 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.

American Party:

  • 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".

Federal 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."

Additional Sources:

"The Tyranny of Printers": Newspaper Politics in the Early American Republic. Jeffrey L. Pasley. Charlottesville, 2001, University Press of Virginia.