The Clintonian Platform

Federalist Party Platform of 1812 (Sort of…)

Brews and Peruse: Examination of a historical document while drinking a craft beer. For a more full description, see Brews & Peruse page. Consists of three essential components:

1) The Document: The Clintonian Platform*– Why? It will be fun… trust me. (Indented)

*The Federalist Party Platform of 1812 ( Federalists did not actually nominate their own presidential candidate in 1812, they supported the candidacy of the Federalist leaning DeWitt Clinton. That is why the document is known as the Clintonian Platform.)

2) The Beer: Sam’l Smith Organic, Handcrafted, Raspberry Fruit Ale: Why? You will see. Each sip and my reaction to it are noted in [BRACKETS-].

3) My commentary: A tongue in cheek look at an American political event. My thoughts, no citations. (Italicized)

The Clintonian Platform

  1. Opposition to nominations of chief magistrates by Congressional caucuses, as well because such practices are the exercise of undelegated authority, as of their repugnance to the freedom of elections.

This is the first raspberry (raspberry: the display of a fattened tongue extended beyond the lips; a    juvenile act designed to communicate disagreement with another person’s actions, words, or ideas.) Here the Federalists couched their position in a negative- an opposition to something. What did they oppose? They opposed the nomination of presidential candidates by congressional caucus. OK. Why, and, what did that mean? The founders neglected to provide a mechanism for nominating presidential candidates in the Constitution (this is where Federalists came up with the whole “undelegated authority” bit.) Why did the founders not provide such a mechanism? [DRINK-good. Tart, like raspberries, which I love. Sweet too] The answer is relatively simple, logistics. In the early republic, travel was difficult and congressional sessions constituted one of the few instances where political leaders meet on a national scale, so the practice developed as a matter of convenience. We now know that they opposed this process, so what process did they advocate as an alternative? If they supported a specific plan, they did not place that plan as a plank to their platform. Why you ask? Should they not have anticipated your wildly successful and oligarchy smashing system of party primaries and conventions and adopted our method? [DRINK TWICE-still good, there’s the fruit, getting sweeter, but still enjoyable] We will answer that question when we examine the second raspberry (plank) of the platform.

  1. Opposition to all customs and usages in both the executive and legislative departments which have for their object the maintenance of an official regency to prescribe tenets of political faith, the line of conduct to be deemed fidelity or recreancy to republican principles, and to perpetuate in themselves or families the offices of the Federal Government.

OK… they were opposed to something else. Not really, planks one and two are connected. What the   Federalists were opposed to here is that the party in power (the Democrat-Republicans) had coalesced around a political philosophy. Federalists had not only lost the presidency with the defeat of John Adams, they were also a minority in congress. As a result, the Federalists did not hold key positions in the legislative bodies. Federalists sat and watched as Democrat-Republicans enacted policy. They did complain and protest, but they were powerless to stop it. [DRINK- sweet is coming to the front]Parliamentary procedure allowed them little influence. Only twenty-five percent of Americans supported the Federalists. So… rather than sharpening their message and re-approaching the public, they complained of the system’s unfairness. In a different era, they might have used the courts to implement their policies. This is somewhat funny. Another part of this complaint is the spoils system. It is easy to understand how the spoils system developed. When the country was young, we had few civil servants. Since certified and degreed civil servants did not exist, who could an executive trust? What was the Federalists answer? Again, they did not provide one in their platform. [DRINK- Wow, looking for something salty to cut the sweet]]I do love how early American’s spoke. We do not come close to their level of eloquence. When I wrote this, Word underlined “recreancy” as miss-spelled, I assume because of the word’s lack of use, sad. [DRINK-here is to an extensive vocabulary!]

  1. Opposition to all efforts on the part of particular States to monopolize the principal offices of the Government, as well because of their certainty to destroy the harmony which ought to prevail amongst all the constituent parts of the Union, as of their leanings toward a form of oligarchy entirely at variance with the theory of republican government; and, consequently, particular opposition to continuing a citizen of Virginia in the executive office another term, unless she can show that she enjoys a corresponding monopoly of talents and patriotism, after she has been honored with the Presidency for twenty out of twenty-four years of our Con-stitutional existence, and when it is obvious that the practice has arrayed the agricultural against the commercial interests of the country.

Raspberry (Plank) 3 is yet a continuation of Planks 1 and 2. Background: in 1812, the United States had held six presidential elections. George Washington, a Virginian and a Federalist had won the first two. John Adams, a Bay Stater (I prefer this to a Massachusettsian) and a Federalist won the third. Adams then lost the forth to Democrat-Republican and Virginian, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson won the fifth and James   Madison, a Virginian and Federalist who turned Democrat-Republican won the sixth. As the plank indicates, Virginians held the presidency for 21 of 24 years. Place of origin mattered then. As the plank indicates, policies of a strong central government can affect concerns of regional importance. If one section controlled power, then other regions may suffer under governmental policy. It is hard for us to understand this concern. [DRINK-there, peanuts. I am not a fan of sweet, but when I balance it, it is not over-whelming] Political opportunism and ambiguity of home make it difficult to establish regional (philosophical-economic) sympathies. Barak Obama provides a great example. Although, he was born in Hawaii he has resided in Indonesia, in Illinois, and in Washington, DC. Hillary Clinton provides another example. She was born in Illinois, but has resided in Washington, DC, and Arkansas (wife of Governor Bill Clinton), and in Washington, DC, (wife of President Bill Clinton), and in New York State (U.S. Senator), and in Washington, DC (Secretary of State), and in New York. What possible attachments could they hold? What could possibly lead them to punish a whole region of the country or to punish a particular industry? I am thankful we do not have to worry about the establishment of familial or regional dynasties.  [DRINK- I needed that!] Back to the past, the Federalists lost power and, are here, complaining about the rules. Rules the Federalists established. It was they who sought to amend (actually,   to secretly write a new document that allowed for a greater centralization of political power) the Articles of Confederation. Federalists were surprised when opposition demanded the new Constitution contain a Bill of Rights before most states would ratify the document. Did I mention that the Democrat-Republican nominee in 1812 was James Madison? You know, the aforementioned James Madison, the one-time Federalist largely responsible for the Constitution. [DRINK- here’s to you James Madison]

 

  1. Opposition to continuing public men for long periods in offices of delicate trust and weighty responsibility as the reward of public services, to the detriment of all or any particular interest in, or section of, the country; and, consequently, to the continuance of Mr. Madison in an office which, in view of our pending difficulties with Great Britain, requires an incumbent of greater decision, energy and efficiency.

Wow… the forth raspberry (plank) is merely more of 1, 2, and 3. Let us revisit: 1) We do not like the method for nominating presidents (because they are not our presidents). 2) We do not like how the rules keep people in power (because we are not the ones using that power). 3) We are sick and tired of Virginians (because we are from New England). 4) The Virginian’s (Democrat-Republicans) have been there too long (We have not, remember?) besides, Madison sucks, and you need us to straighten out this mess.  [DRINK- some amount of after-taste, expected of something you have had multiple times]

5. Opposition to the lingering inadequacy of preparations for the war with Great Britain            now about to ensue, and to the measure which allows uninterrupted trade with Spain            and Portugal, which, as it cannot be carried on under our flag, gives to Great Britain                the means of supplying her armies with provisions, of which they would otherwise                be destitute, and thus affording aid and comfort to our enemy.

Raspberry #5: Madison really sucks. Look… what has he done? The crap is ready to hit the fan, and we  are ill-prepared. Our (New England’s) trade relations are a mess, our enemy may benefit from our ineptitude.  [DRINK- not overly carbonated, getting sweeter still]

  1. Averment of the existing necessity for placing the country in a condition for aggressive action for the conquest of the British American Provinces and for the defense of our coasts and exposed frontiers; and of the propriety of such a levy of taxes as will raise the necessary funds for the emergency.

 A positive statement, well, kind of… The Federalists advocated the conquest of British Canada, and the strengthening of coastal and frontier fortifications. All of which would naturally require additional taxes. [DRINK- If like sweet stuff, you will love this]

  1. Advocacy of the election of De Witt Clinton as the surest method of relieving the country from all the evils existing and prospective, for the reason that his great talents and inflexible patriotism guarantee a firm and unyielding maintenance of our national sovereignty, and the protection of those commercial interests which were flagging under the weakness and imbecility of the administration.

Worry not, our fellow citizens! Our savior is here! DeWitt Clinton is our man. He will maintain our   national sovereignty and protect our trade. Clinton and the Federalists will defeat all evils, existing and prospective! Madison and his administration are weak imbeciles. Most of all, remember, we are not them! Good thing we have moved past this rhetoric. These guys were so mean. [DRINK- though I love raspberries, the sweetness of the fruit-though initially enjoyable- becomes    inescapable and unpleasant after repeated experiences. Seriously, the bitterness of beer is what I enjoy. So while this beer is good, it is not for me.]

Post Script

We remember James Madison as a brilliant man and a good president. He was America’s first president to lead the country in a declared war. However, his re-election in 1812 was not a certainty. Many, especially Northeast Federalists, did not support the coming war with England. While the Democrat-Republicans of Madison enjoyed a majority, divisions were evident. Madison could usually depend on the Republican faction; other factions did not always follow his lead. Old Republicans held to the party’s original ideals. The Clintonian’s tried to take the party in a decidedly Federalist direction. The “Invisibles” were adversaries of Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin. The opposition Federalist Party had not recovered from John Adam’s loss to Thomas Jefferson in 1800. Although Federalists existed throughout the country, the party’s greatest area of regional support was in the North. The party did not officially nominate a presidential candidate in 1812; rather they threw their support to Clinton after the New York Democrat-Republican Caucus nominated him. That is how the Federalist Party Platform of 1812 is known as the Clintonian Platfrom. The platform was designed to peel Democrat war-hawks away and ally them with the Federalists in opposition to Madison’s conduct of the war. It was not an official position paper stating Federalist principles. It was political expediency.

ClintonianPlatform

Sources for this article:

1) National Party Platforms of the United States, Presidential Candidates, Electoral and Popular Votes, J.M.H. Frederick (Compiler), (Akron, Oh: 1896) J.M.H. Frederick, GooglePlay. https://play.google.com/books/reader?printsec=frontcover&output=reader&id=4Ig0AAAAIAAJ&pg=GBS.PP7

2) Hickey, Donald R., The War of 1812, (Urbana and Chicago: 1989) University of Illinois Press. pp 29-51

3) Wood, Gordon S., Empire of Liberty, (New York: 2009). Oxford University Press, p 666-673.

4) United States Senate, http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Nominating_presidents.htm

5) Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. “James Madison: Campaigns and Elections.” Accessed August 20, 2016. http://millercenter.org­/president/biography/madison-campaigns-and-elections.

6) Morison, Samuel Eliot, Commager, Leuchtenburg, The Growth of the American Republic. Vol 1, (New York: 1969) Oxford University Press, pp 357-65

Author: historypresent

History Understood in Its Present

9 thoughts on “The Clintonian Platform”

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