Front Page Titles (by Subject) A Republican Response - Liberty and Order: The First American Party Struggle
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A Republican Response - Lance Banning, Liberty and Order: The First American Party Struggle 
Liberty and Order: The First American Party Struggle, ed. and with a Preface by Lance Banning (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004).
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A Republican Response
“Desultory Reflections on the Aspect of Politics in Relation to the Western People,” by “Phocion” (Essay #1) Kentucky Gazette and General Advertiser 27 September 1803
It is notorious that the people of the United States are at this time divided into two parties, the one attached to the administration of Mr. Jefferson and the other hostile to the man, his principles and his conduct. That whatever policy the former recommends or pursues is assailed by the latter with a violence unknown to any period of our history.
The motives which prompt them on to this opposition and the opposition itself must be worth an examination.
To do this successfully, we must examine into the characters of those composing the party.
One description of them appear to have attached themselves to the administrations which successively governed the United States prior to the year 1801, and upon the same principles the same class of men would attach themselves to any administration, in any age or country. I allude to those enemies to our Revolution from fear, those political fortune hunters that abound in every country, and to those who will abandon any party or enter into the service of any administration from motives of interest and reward.
A second class of them may consist of those who, acting from principle and prejudice, are yet respectable by their motives; and acting from mistaken views are entitled to all that charity which religion inculcates and sanctions.
In the former are to be found the leaders, who, whether their conduct is consistent or not, always find in the latter the instruments and tools adapted to every exigency and every occasion. Honest men are not infrequently victims or agents to the designing, and we should, therefore, ascribe the conduct of the latter to the imperfection of our nature. Nevertheless, their conduct, in its consequences, is equally dangerous to society, from whatever motives it may proceed; since if the blow is aimed, it must be immaterial to the sufferer whether from the mistaken, honest, or designing character… .
This abuse of power and influence led a number of enlightened and independent characters to an opposition which enlightened the public mind and finally placed Mr. Jefferson in the presidency.
After this event it was to be expected that a people which complained of abuses in every department of government would insist upon their removal; and that Mr. Jefferson would remove their authors from power.
The people directed it; Mr. Jefferson obeyed.
Then commenced a systematic opposition to his measures. No proposition was made, or act done, but what was immediately opposed. All the attempts of the opposition were directed to one end—the embarrassment of the executive… .
Consistency of principle and conduct they did not regard, provided they had consistency of opposition.
Such was their conduct during two sessions of Congress.
But one subject during the session of last Congress engrossed most of their attention, and in which they made exertions worthy a better cause. We allude to the measures which they proposed and opposed relative to the occlusion of the port of Orleans.
At that period they enlarged upon the misfortunes which would flow from the French colonization of Louisiana. Our wealth would be torn from us; the commerce of the western people ruined by the monopoly & exaction of the Frenchmen; the value of our western property lessened by the encouragement they would give to migration; our citizens enticed from their present habitations to become the instrument of French ambition and intrigue; our union dissolved by the machinations and intrigues of their officers; our independence endangered and our whole country fall a prey to the ambition of the consul. The attempt to secure our rights by negotiation was the child of a weak old man; the result of a disordered imagination. Whilst Monroe and Livingston were negotiating, the consul would seize this important territory himself. The period of action would be lost. The loss of blood in the old world were nothing when compared with the advantages of possessing ourselves of the whole country. But all these ad-vantages would be lost by a weak, pusillanimous administration, ignorant of the true interest and right of the country, without capacity to comprehend or firmness to enforce them.
But the country has become ours without the effusion of blood, without entering upon a war, the expenses of which would have been incalculable, without incurring the dislike of powers whose commerce is most important to us, because they are the consumers of our produce; and it appears the act which secured these advantages is to be opposed because it is the act of Mr. Jefferson and the people.
A writer in an eastern paper says fifteen millions is too great a price for Louisiana, a country nearly as large as the United States, and upon which the western people must depend for their commercial importance. Last winter the party were for involving the union in a war, not to secure the country but to embarrass the executive. The western people, more reasonable, required security only, with less expense and risk.
Had war taken place as they desired, more than fifteen millions must have been expended on the operations of a single year.
The country must have been retained and the expense increased to retain it. If to all this we add the immense losses of our citizens engaged in commerce and the expenses of convoys to our merchantmen, how will the calculation then hold? Not to mention the loss of blood, the heartburning of the people of France, the eternalizing of their prejudices and rancor, by an attack upon them for the unprovoked aggression of a petty officer of another, before a demand of reparation had been made, conformable to the conduct of all civilized nations. Not to notice the advantages which other commercial states would obtain over us whilst our commerce to France, Spain, Italy, Holland, and their colonies should be interrupted, & the disadvantages we must have labored under at its revival. Whilst we were suffering all the inconveniences of war, others would be gaining at our expense, without an attempt on our part being made to ward off the evils or to obtain a peaceable remedy. Thus have nations ever been the sport of ambitious statesmen, devouring each other, and permitting states inimical to both to enrich themselves by their common quarrels. Why should we engage in war? Why should we abandon the road which has led us on with unexampled rapidity to the summit of wealth, distinction and power? We have profited by the misfortunes of others without the imputation of a crime, and we have profited to no purpose if we abandon our advantages in the moment of passion… .