The Triumph of the Jeffersonian Opposition
The Jeffersonians were meanwhile winning popular support not only among Southern landowners but also among the mechanics, workers, and generally the less privileged everywhere. Jefferson showed skill in building his party, and the Jeffersonians were much better at publicity than were the Federalists.
The election of 1800 was a Federalist debacle. The Jeffersonians came to power and stayed there, establishing the so-called Virginia dynasty, with James Madison succeeding Jefferson and James Monroe succeeding Madison. The Federalist party remained powerful locally, but increasingly the leadership passed to the reactionaries rather than to the moderates. It tended to be a New England party.
This trend was accentuated in the troubled period before the War of 1812. Merchants and shipowners were opposed to the Embargo Act of 1807, which caused considerable economic loss to the seaboard cities, and their feelings were expressed through the Federalist party. The Federalists, however, failed to enlist De Witt Clinton and his followers in New York in their cause, and their challenge in the elections of 1808 was easily overridden by the Jeffersonians.
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