New York, state, United States: Political, Reform, and Cultural Movements

Political, Reform, and Cultural Movements

New constitutions broadened the suffrage in 1821 and again in 1846; slavery was abolished in 1827. Politics was largely controlled from the 1820s to the 40s by the Albany Regency, which favored farmers, artisans, and small businessmen. Martin Van Buren was the regency's chief figure. The regency's control was challenged by the business-oriented Whigs, led by Thurlow Weed and William H. Seward, and by the Anti-Masonic party. The rise of tension between the reform-minded Locofocos and the Tammany organization in New York City weakened the Democratic party in the 1830s. After the panic of 1837, Seward was governor (1839–52), and his Whig program included internal improvements, educational reform, and opposition to slavery.

New York was a leader in numerous 19th-century reform groups. Antislavery groups made their headquarters in New York. In 1848 the first women's rights convention in the United States met in Seneca Falls.

Early in its history New York state emerged as one of the cultural leaders of the nation. In the early 19th cent. Washington Irving and William Cullen Bryant, leaders of the famed Knickerbocker School of writers, and James Fenimore Cooper were among the country's foremost literary figures. The natural beauty of New York inspired the noted Hudson River school of American landscape painters. With New England's decline as a literary center, many writers came to New York City from other parts of the nation, helping to make it a literary and publishing center and the cultural heart of the country.

Sections in this article:

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: U.S. Political Geography