Front Page Titles (by Subject) A BAD BEGINNING - Democratick Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy
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A BAD BEGINNING - William Leggett, Democratick Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy 
Democratic Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy, Foreword by Lawrence H. White (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1984).
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A BAD BEGINNING
March 18, 1837.
Text abridged and extract deleted so as to omit references to political personalities of the day.
The first number of a weekly newspaper, just established at Oswego, called the Commercial Herald, has been sent to us. Amongst leading articles there is one entitled Loco Focos, which professes to give an account of the principles and objects of the political party known by that name. It says—
Their ideas of politicks and morals are drawn from the most beautiful theories that human genius has invented, and from propositions, true in themselves, but susceptible of no practical results. Hence, their tenets are founded in the false premises of a perfectibility in human nature that dispenses with all the restraints of law, and all the obligations of religion. The sweeping nature of their doctrines has brought them in contract with our whole system of legislation, and indeed with all laws human and divine. Hostile to every species of monopoly, even to the institution of marriage, they have in some respects exercised a wholesome and salutary influence upon the course of legislation.
The same paper names Shelley as “among the authordox writers” from whom the Loco Focos derive their creed, and cites a passage from the notes to Queen Mab as illustrative of the views of the Loco Focos on the subject of marriage. . . .1
We cannot augur favourably of a newspaper which is guilty of such sheer and coarse misrepresentation at its very outset. There is not one word of truth in these statements; they are unmitigated, unqualified slanders. We do not belong to the party, the principles of which are thus traduced, and we have before expressed the opinion that its course of action is not in exact accordance with its principles, and not calculated to expedite the object at which it aims. But with respect to the creed which it professes, no man claiming to be a democrat can gainsay a single syllable of it. Admitting, as a political axiom, the truth of the fundamental doctrine of our government, the political equality of mankind, every article of the creed of those called Loco Focos has the force and certainty of a geometrical demonstration. The assertion is without a shadow of truth that they propose to dispense with the restraints of law and the obligations of religion, that they are opposed to all law, human and divine, or that they are hostile to the institution of marriage. . . .
The whole creed of those who are termed Loco Focos is embraced in the maxim of the equality of men’s political rights. It breathes no hostility whatever to religion; has no reference to the institution of marriage; and opposes existing laws only to the extent that they interfere, either directly with men’s equal rights, or indirectly, by restraints on the natural freedom of trade, which, though general in their terms, have yet the inevitable tendency of unduly fostering particular interests or classes. . . .
We have always considered the Loco Focos wrong in separating from the main body of the democracy, and in combining under a separate organization; because we thought the more certain, the more speedy, and the more democratick mode, of achieving the triumph of their particular principles, would have been to cooperate in general objects with those with whom they agreed in the main, constantly exercising, with vigilance and temper, their proper share of influence in the primary popular proceedings, to bring about that reformation which they desire to accomplish. But all party combinations are mere measures of policy to establish or maintain particular principles; and the separation of any portion of a party, therefore, on questions of difference touching cardinal principles, although it may be censurable as impolitick, can never deserve the more serious reprehension which belongs to dishonesty. It is not to be doubted that, with the mere exception of such a sprinkling as all parties contain of men governed by selfish motives, the Loco Focos are sincere in the creed and in the objects which they profess. They must then be considered democrats, in the strictest meaning of the word, and will naturally merge again into the great democratick party, under that best possible appellation, when it shall, by a much needed reformation of its “usages,” and a lustration of its members, become worthy of its name.
[1 ]The English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley published the long ideological poem Queen Mab together with notes in 1813. The ninth note was a celebrated essay against legal marriage.—Ed.