Party Spirit in a Frontier Republic: Democratic Politics in Ohio, 1793-1821

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9780814207765: Party Spirit in a Frontier Republic: Democratic Politics in Ohio, 1793-1821

The formative years of the early republic are commonly seen as a period of general aversion to organized political parties, especially in frontier areas, where politics were dominated by an elite of land speculators, merchants, and office holders. In this close study of Ohio's experience at the state and local levels, Donald J. Ratcliffe presents an alternative view. Ratcliffe argues that although the traditional picture accurately represents politics under the territorial regime, the statehood movement roused popular participation on an unprecedented scale and brought about a democratic revolution in Ohio in 1802. Thereafter men of means still dominated public office, but only if they could prove to their constituents that popular concerns were being adequately met. The frontier republic had not only provided an experience of democratic politics but also created lasting partisan loyalties among the electorate and laid down lines of partisan cleavages that would never quite disappear.

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Ratcliffe teaches American history at the University of Durham in England.

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