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Political life in the 19th century


Battle of Saratoga
Battle of Saratoga

Two political parties vied for power in early New York State. The Federalist Party, led by Hamilton, favored a strong federal government that would be controlled mostly by wealthy commercial interests. The Federalists held power in New York from 1795 to 1800, while John Jay served as governor. Then their power dwindled, and by 1815 they were no longer a major party. After 1800 leadership of the state passed to the quarreling factions of the Anti-Federalists. They considered themselves followers of Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican Party, which advocated states’ and individual rights and appealed to the nation’s farmers. They were led by four men who each had a popular following and high ambitions: George Clinton, his nephew De Witt Clinton, Daniel D. Tompkins, and Aaron Burr. Of the four, all but Burr served terms as governor, and George Clinton, Tompkins, and Burr all served as vice presidents of the United States.

In 1798 Burr gained control of the patriotic and charitable organization called the Tammany Society, organizing it as a personal political machine that helped elect Jefferson president and Burr vice president in 1800. But Burr failed to win renomination as vice president in 1804 and also failed to win the governorship because of forceful opposition by Hamilton, his bitter rival. Burr’s political career came to an end in 1804, when he challenged and killed Hamilton in a duel. While the other Anti-Federalist leaders served in national offices, De Witt Clinton became the most important man in state politics. From 1803 to 1815, except for two years, he was mayor of New York City. In 1812 he ran unsuccessfully for president, although he carried many Northern states. From 1817 to 1828, except for one term, he was governor of the state and won fame for promoting construction of the Erie Canal. "New York" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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