The Federalist Party never got a chance to put the “Every generation of partisan has the need to revamp their reverred president” rule into effect

That Republican leaders sought to encourage a feeling of popular participation in the affairs of the party and to keep alive popular enthusiasm for the party was well demonstrated by the frequency of party celebrations held throughout the country.  Many of the Republican celebrations which accompanied the inauguration of Jefferson on March 4, 1801, were well-planned, elaborate demonstrations which featured parades, dinners, orations, balls, and other festivities.  These celebrations were repeated in many places in March of each year throughout Jefferson’s administration.  “The 4th of March forms an epoch in the political history of the United States, which ought always to awaken the purest sensations of the American Patriot,” declared a Richmond Republican meeting in announcing “the celebration of that day, which restored to us the genuine principles of ’76, and removed the alarms which had clouded the fairest prospects of American Liberty and Independence.”  Reporting the Republican celebration in New Haven in March 1803, Abraham Bishop enthusiastically pointed out that “the procession extended in close columns through two sides of the public square and consisted of 1108 men.  The whole company far exceeded that on commencements and elections.” […]

In addition to the March 4th Celebrations, there were also the July 4th festivities which came to be separately observed by the two parties in many places.  A July 4th celebration planned and controlled by Republicans meant, as explained by Levi Lincoln, “a republican orator, republican prayers, republican music, republican toasts, and republican songs.”  Special celebrations were also held, the most elaborate and extensive being the celebration of the acquisition of Louisiana.  From Washington, Federalist Congressman Manasseh Cutler reported in January 1804:  “There is a Jubilee proclaimed here by the Democrats. … There is to be such a feast, it is said, as was never known in America, an account of taking possession of Louisiana.  There is to be diners — suppers — balls — assemblies, dances, and I know not what. … The Jubilee is to begin here — but they expect it will run, like wildfire, to every dark and benighted corner of America.”  And spread it did.  Republican newspapers called for a national festival, and Republicans in many parts of the country organized celebrations.  So tremendous was the Philadephia celebration that it must have dominated the life of the city for days, even weeks, before the May 12 Festival.

Federalists replied to the Republican celebrations by observing Washington’s birthday, just before the March 4th festivals, and in other ways calling attention to the first President.  The Worcester Massachusetts Spy, obviously trying to counteract recent Republican demonstrations, devoted most of the issue of March 7, 1804, to publishing Washington’s farewell address. […]

First of all, the Republicans who had successfully turned out John Adams in 1900 campaigned against Adams as long as they could keep alive the memories of the unpopular measures of the administration. […]  Although the Republicans were anxious to keep the name of John Adams associated with the Federalists, they were unwilling to allow the Federalists to claim President Washington.  Federalists made repeated efforts to keep Washington’s name before the public in connection with their party.  They conspicuously celebrated Washington’s birthday.  Federalist party tickets were labelled the “Washington Ticket”, the “Washington and Anti-Embargo Ticket”, and “Washington and Adams Nominations.” […] Republicans in Vermont reacted to Federalist use of Washington’s name by designating their ticket the “Washington and Jefferson Ticket” and referring to the Federalist slate as the “Adams and Hamilton Ticket.”

— Noble E Cunningham, Jr.  The Jefferson Republicans in Power:  Party Operations 1801-1809, yr 1963


What strikes me from this passage (or series of passages, I guess) is we see the earliest example of the theory of Political Party Over-heroship: The Federalist Party reached back to Washington because that’s who they’ve got as the Republican Party today reach back to Reagan because that’s who they’ve got — subsequent politicians have to be dealt with and nodded to pro forma but not too obsequitiously.  Meantime, the opposing party claims the mantle, as much as they can get away with, of the other party’s last hero and claims that “Today’s Federalist Party is not the Party of Washington” or “Today’s Republican Party is not the Party of Reagan” (Good lord, this has to be the most narrowly selected for political purposes thrown up for  for Reagan , though I suppose the same could be said for Reagan in charging the Soviets with breaking this Precious Right… also then again Reagan did the same with Roosevelt with his “Today’s Democratic Party is not the Party of Roosevelt” bravados).

Also, tendencies to see through partisan lenses “the real America”, blocking out the other faction from the picture, the totality of the “republican experience”, and etc.

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