By Richard Buel
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Extra resources for America on the Brink: How the Political Struggle Over the War of 1812 Almost Destroyed the Young Republic
Despite occasional dips in tax revenues, the treasury experienced no difficulty in paying interest on the funded debt and even retired some of its principal. qxd 2/11/04 1:03 PM Page 21 The Combustibles 21 Federalist leaders neither expected nor welcomed these economic developments. They had been more interested in using the debt for state than capital formation. Perhaps they feared that an expanding economy would benefit their adversaries more than it would them. Though many New Englanders among their ranks would become industrial innovators, the Federalists thought of themselves as merchants engaged in commerce and referred to those of their opponents, who were not southern slaveholding aristocrats, as manufacturers.
Parson William Bentley’s diary details a turnpike and bridge boom, financed by the returns the region’s commerce brought in from around the world. 45 Boston seized upon the occasion to beautify itself under the architectural guidance of Charles Bulfinch, an endeavor that brought a flood of artisans into the metropolis. 47 But the Federalists held more of the wealth in the other large towns of the state—and deployed it lavishly for political ends. New England’s Congregational establishment constituted an even more significant asset for the Federalist elite.
27 The only development that corresponded to Federalist trepidations was the transformation of the French republic into a military dictatorship disguised as a monarchy. ” Two years later he arranged for a plebiscite that proclaimed him first consul for life, and in 1804 he crowned himself emperor. The Federalists should have derived reassurance from such a transformation since France under an upstart monarch was far less able to manipulate the American people than she was as a republic. But Federalist leaders took little comfort in what had happened because they construed France’s history since 1793 as the trajectory all republics were inclined to follow.
America on the Brink: How the Political Struggle Over the War of 1812 Almost Destroyed the Young Republic by Richard Buel