Letitia Hall, "Threshold of a Century: the Diary of Louisa Adams Park, 1800-1801"

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a very successful and popular general, had taken power left many Americans wondering if he would establish a democratic government or install himself as dictator. Would he be like the beloved General Washington, or would he be another Cromwell?7

The new government in France created new questions about whether peace could be negotiated without risk to American sovereignty. Maritime New England was losing ships and money to privateers and it did not trust the French to treat honorably with American envoys or to stay out of American domestic politics. In Boston, the newspaper Columbian Centinel and Massachusetts Federalist, warned of Frenchmen claiming that France would take over the world. The editorialist warned that they were "democrats in sentiment and disorganizers in conduct".8

Louisa seems to have been a regular reader of the Centinel. She mentioned it by name only once, in a letter to John, but in several other instances, her references to "the paper" can be traced to the Centinel. On December 20, 1800, she commented in her diary on the presidential election and the French treaty, both of which were covered by the paper the same day. Her judgement of Jefferson's election, "Bad news," was the headline for the election story. Similar connections can be found to news reports of Naval engagements.9  Her antipathy for both the French and the Democratic Republicans may have come from a number of sources, including her father, her husband, or a lively political climate in the towns where she lived and visited. Whatever their source, they were encouraged by the partisan newspaper.


7. Columbian Centinel and Massachusetts Federalist, Sunday, February 1, 1800. (New Canaan, Conn.: Readex) Early American Newspapers, Reel 3/10.
8. Columbian Centinel, Saturday, January 11, 1800, Letter to the Editor, signed "Amator Veritatis."
9. Columbian Centinel, January 26, 1800; December 20, 1800; January 4, 1801; January 19, 1801.
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