The Philadelphia Congressional Election Of 1794 Essay

The Philadelphia Congressional Election Of 1794 Essay

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The First American Party System: The Philadelphia Congressional Election of 1794 Why was one candidate more appealing to the majority of Philadelphia voters? In order to answer the above question, there are many things things that you have to look at. You need to look at the candidates them-selves and the people who voted for them. What were the current issues, and where did the candidates stand on the issues. How the candidates relate to the public is a big issue. First we should separately look at each of the candidates so we can understand where they come from and what the people liked about them. Thomas Fitzsimons (1741-1811) was born in Ireland and moved to the colonies sometime before the revolution. He quickly entered into the business scene and also quickly rose in business. He served as a captain in the Pennsylvania militia during the Revolution, and later was a member of the Continental Congress in 1782 and 83. He was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1786 and 87. After that he had the privilege of going to the Constitutional Convention and was a signer of the Constitution. He later went on to be a major player in the political circles of Philadelphia. He was also a Roman Catholic. John Swanwick (1740-1798) came from that horrible country of England. He and his family came to the colonies in the early 1770 s. His dad was a wagon master and a minor British government official. His father was exiled as a Troy during the Revolution. John however stayed and joined the Patriot cause. In 1777 was hired into a merchant firm as a clerk. He became an # invaluable asset because of his ability to speak French and German. He as well quickly rose up in business and was soon a partner in the ownership of the firm he was working for. He later went on to hold a number of minor offices. He was a supporter of Federalism and Hamilton's early financial policies. Swanwick also held office in the state legislature. He later moved from Federalism to Democratic-Republicanism. He soon became an officer of the party, and was opposed to the excise tax. He wrote poetry and never actually admitted to the political circle of Philadelphia s elite. He was a member of the Protestant Episcopal church. O.K., so what does this mean? Well, Mr. Fitzsimons certainly has some more impressive credentials than his opponent. Fitzsimons went to the Constitution Convention and was a signer of the constitution. How could Swanwick possibly compete with something like that? Well the thing is that all of that was the past. Sure he signed the constitution, but what is he going to do for us now? That s what the question is. Lets take a look at some other factors in this election. Now lets look at the different parties of the two gentlemen. The best way to compare the the parties is to look at where they stand on the issues of the time. The best issue to look at for this period (and because it was one of the only one in the book) is the excise tax. This tax caused the Whiskey Rebellion, quite a large subject for the people. The Federalist were the ones who supported the excise tax. In an article that the book includes the Federalist chastise those who rebelled against it (Whiskey Rebellion). The article basically says that because they (the people) rebelled against the tax, they rebelled against the government itself. This is one strike against Fitzsimons. He stands on the wrong side of the fence on this issue. So you can be sure that the people were thinking about this at the ballots. Democratic-Republicans were on the right side of the fence on this one. They were the ones who strongly opposed the tax. This was the view point of the common people. The workers, laborers, and the merchants too. The merchants were effected because if the tax was too # much for the people, they weren't buying. And that meant bad news for the merchants. With all of the people on the opposing side of the tax, it was good to be a Republican at this time. Next thing to consider is what the good Lord had placed down upon the people of the colonies. The Yellow Fever struck Philadelphia in July of 1793. It made it s first appearance in the lodging house in North Water Street. Even though this epidemic took place before the elections and was not during them, it still had a great effect on the voters. A Dr. Benjamin Rush left a good account of the disease through his letters to his wife. Dr. Rush had opted to stay in Philadelphia during the Epidemic to help the people. O.K. great, you say, but how does that relate to the election. Well you see, Dr. Rush did a very brave and noble thing by staying in Philadelphia. And the only people who were really left in the city were those who could not afford to leave. They were the masses, and a good percentage of the voter. And just so you know, Dr. Rush was a prominent Democratic-Republican. Go team right, what is good for one of the party is good for the whole of the party. So here we have yet another positive note for Mr. Swanwick. To add to the effect that the Yellow fever had on the community lets look at the board. Yes these people formed a committee, the Citizens Committee on the Fever. This committee was made up of 18 people. Lets look at how this committee broke down. Of the 18 people on the board, 9 were of the Democratic-Republican party. Only one member was an avowed Federalists, the rest I don't know, but they weren t Federalists. So here we have another example where the Federalist seem to step, or rather run, from this plague which is effecting so many people. Well, if we look at how the sections of the city voted we can really understand how seriously this effected the race. The area s with the most deaths, North and South Mulberry, both had an overwhelming vote for Mr. Swanwick. North and South Mulberry were also heavy # as far as the artisan and laborer occupations were concerned. This relates to the fact that Swanwick got the majority of the votes from that area. This supports that Swanwick was a candidate of the people. So here we go. We already know that Mr. Swanwick won the election, but why. Lets look again at the evidence I presented and boil over it for a bit. First off, Mr. Fitzsimons was a Federalist, and the Federalist party was not doing to well at the time because of it s association with the excise tax. This tax was not popular with the people at all, and in fact caused the Whiskey Rebellion. So this is a strike against Mr. Fitzsimons. Next the Federalist tended to be of the richer persuasion and when the Yellow fever hit, they were the first to flea. And actually they were probably the only ones who could leave. Most others could not afford the cost of leaving so they were forced to stay and take there chances with the disease. This does not paint a good picture for those of the Federalist party. And if we look at who was on the Citizen s Committee of the Fever, we see only one avowed Federalist. Now lets take a look at our winner, Mr. Swanwick. Mr. Swanwick was a Democratic-Republican. This party seemed to me to be more of one of the people than the Federalists. They were the ones who did oppose the excise tax, and they were accused of being involved in the Whiskey rebellion by George Washington. I m not sure as to whether Mr. Swanwick was directly involved with the rebellion. But, none the less, he was a member of the Democratic-Republican party and they stood strongly behind him. And now we should look at the Yellow Fever as we did with the Federalists and Mr. Fitzsimons. The Yellow Fever had a big enemy and it was Dr. Rush. Dr. Rush had the courage to stay behind and try to fight this illness that took over the city and effected so many people. And Dr. Bush was a very prominent Democratic-Republican. So hey, here we go another great plus for Mr. Swanwick s party. And if we look at # the Citizen s Committee on the Fever, we will see that it had a strong showing of 9 members who were of the Democratic-Republican persuasion. If you were to ask me, I would have to say that the outcome of this election relied heavily on party association. And unfortunately for Mr. Fitzsimons his party didn t seem to be doing to well with the fair people of Philadelphia. On the other hand, Mr. Swanwick was on the right train for this election. His party had the support of the people, and Mr. Swanwick had the support of the party. So that s it, that s the big secret as to how a man with very impressive credentials such as Mr. Fitzsimons can be beaten out by a man whose history is quite as impressive. But as they always say ;no excuses, just results.

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