The Federalists Yesterday, the Tea Party Today

  • There is an interesting Op-Ed piece in The New York Times (7-Aug-2013), by James Traub, that compares the modern Tea Party and its crusade to prevent illegal immigrants from gaining a path to citizenship with the Federalist Party of the nascent U.S. Because the Federalists culturally identified with New England and the mid-Atlantic, the Louisiana Purchase (1803) — which more than doubled the size of the country — threatened to marginalize them. Every Federalist in Congress save John Quincy Adams voted against the Louisiana Purchase, says Traub. In addition, fearing that immigrants would vote for the Republican Party of Jefferson and Madison, they also sought to restrict newcomers from holding office.

     

    Of course the Federalist Party collapsed because it could not — or would not — adapt to demographic realities. And the Tea Party?

JDN | 7-Aug-2013

More than any other figure who strode across the revolutionary stage, [Joseph] Warren gave his devotion to the American cause simply because he believed in it. Others believed as passionately, of course; but for Samuel Adams political agitation was a profession which had rescued him from a debtors’ prison; James Otis had deep grievances against the royal government because of their mistreatment of his father; John Hancock was a millionaire merchant who made much of his money from smuggling and owed the British Revenue Service over £100,000 in fines; as a lawyer, John Adams was naturally drawn into the political arena. Warren, as a doctor could have remained aloof, as many of his fellow physicians in Boston did. They were the only class in Massachusetts who were not pressured to join the cause.

Thomas Fleming
Now We Are Enemies: The Story of Bunker Hill (1960; reissued 2010)