why no parties in colonial america?
pfink at albanylaw.edu
Mon Oct 13 17:04:57 PDT 2008
There were some factions -- the Morristes in NY for example; but the politics wer "incomplete" in the sense that the people did not in fact have autonomy; royal governors intervened and manipulated politics. The base for voting was also quite small in many places; Religion, wealth, race all limited voting in many places. If elites run things then the very issues are you are asking about -- self interst -- may be shared by all those in the political process. Thus parties are not needed but factions emerge on particular issues; much of colonial poitics was about the personal, rather than about issues or ideology.
On Oct 13, 2008, at 12:29 PM, Sean Wilson wrote:
> ... anyone have any thoughts about why political parties would not
> have naturally developed in colonial America when colonists were
> voting for their lower house? I'm aware of the sociological and
> cultural reasons against parties in that time period, but what I am
> wondering is -- why did that stuff work? I mean, if there were
> political stakes involved during the era of benign neglect, and if
> rationality (self interest) is what it is, why wouldn't the colonial
> political marketplace have organized itself around forces that
> competed for selfishness?
> The only thing I can think of is that American political psychology
> at that time inherited its party id from England, and that everyone
> would have been considered Whig. This, along with the stuffy social
> stratification and the classical education, made any further
> specification of parties disfavored. And so instead of a party-
> centric politics, you have only an "issue specific" kind of politics
> develop. That is, the colonists would frequently petition their
> lower house for redress of a particular issue. (Or riot if the taxes
> were too much).
> But I still wonder why in any particular colony there would not
> have naturally developed men of clientele A versus men of clientele
> B when trying to get into the lower house. Is it because voting
> prior to 1776 was not that widespread? I have assumed it was equal
> to what it was in England after the glorious revolution (roughly 1/4
> to 1/5th of the adult male population). Surely this would support a
> party dynamic
> Of course, now I wonder: is my premise wrong? Were there loose
> political societies that performed the party (yin-yang) function?
> Did fraternities like the Masons perform some of these functions
> (compared to other groups)?
> yours confused and appreciative.
> Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
> Assistant Professor
> Wright State University
> New Website: http://seanwilson.org
> SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
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pfink at albanylaw.edu
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