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


The Federalist newspaper that Louisa was reading printed an unsigned letter accusing France of wanting to "overturn the United States Constitution and do away with the Senate."17  An editorial reprinted from the Gazette of the United States warned:

t is the general ascendency of the worthless, the dishonest, the rapacious, the vile, the merciless and the ungodly which forms the principle ground of alarm. ... These are the men to whom Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Burr are indebted for the highest offices in the nation. ... As we now proceed we are tracing the steps of France and have already arrived almost at the point at which they appear stained with blood.18
Louisa took these warnings to heart and imagined the consequences of Republican government in her own family. She wrote, "Must my boy become a Frenchman? Never–I had rather he should never know society." And later, "Read in the evening some of the most tragical part of the French revolution. It will not do to read such things when I intend to sleep, for I dream of robbers and murder, and always connect the idea of my husband with some of them."19

While women were not considered participants in the political process, Louisa's writing demonstrates that women were involved in politics to some degree. The election was the focus of a great deal of attention, even among men who could not or did not vote,20 and she probably heard a lot about it from the men around her. The fact that she shared her views and fears with her husband suggests that they shared this interest or that she was taking an interest on his behalf. It seems likely that her husband was a Federalist partisan, and that the Columbian Centinel and Massachusetts Federalist was his preferred paper. Louisa may have been reading the paper and learning its point of view in order to remain a companion to John, even at a distance.

17. Columbian Centinel, Wednesday, February 6, 1800. The Senate was key to new England's legislative strength; its small states couldn't outvote the populous South and expanding West in the House of Representatives.
18. Columbian Centinel, Wednesday, January 21, 1801.
19. Park, Diary, December 27, 1800; January 10, 1801.
20. Weisberger, America Afire, 230-231.
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