History Discussion (150 words)

DISCUSSION: New Nation Experiment

For this discussion, you MUST use information from both your text(s) and videos
Be sure to give yourself credit for using details and evidence from a source with an
abbreviated citation at the end of your sentence. (Washington video) OR (Text 161)
OR (Lyon document) Like so.
You will see in your text for this module the question posed:
Why was it so hard for Americans to accept political dissent as loyal political
I also asked in your study guide:
Which events show the difficulty leaders had in creating a new nation,
considering the opposing viewpoints – differing opinions?
This discussion is intended for you to kick around some ideas about these
questions. Think about it – they have a new country and people don’t agree on how it
should be governed. So how do they stay together? How do they know that someone
in their own country won’t do to them what they just did to Great Britain – have another
Creating this new country was a daunting and brave and radical task. I’m asking you
to explore a bit WHY it was so difficult. Which events prove to you – or are evidence
about – how hard that was? Why was it hard to be “OK” with someone STRONGLY
disagreeing with you? Look at the outbreaks of violence in this period.

Answer the following in your ORIGINAL POST:
o Why was it so hard for Americans to accept political dissent as loyal
political activity?
o Which events show the difficulty leaders had in creating a new nation,
considering the opposing viewpoints – differing opinions?
THE SEDITION ACT. Approved July 14, 1798.
“To write, print, utter or publish, or cause it to be done, or assist in it, any false,
scandalous, and malicious writing against the government of the United States, or
either House of Congress, or the President, with intent to defame, or bring either
into contempt or disrepute, or to excite against either the hatred of the people of the
United States, or to stir up sedition, or to excite unlawful combinations against the
government, or to resist it, or to aid or encourage hostile designs of foreign nations.”
Grade of offence: A misdemeanour
Punishment: Fine not exceeding $2000, and imprisonment not exceeding
two years.

Matthew Lyon, Vermont’s Spitting Congressman

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Matthew Lyon, Vermont’s Spitting
Much about Matthew Lyon of Fair Haven, Vt., is unclear, but one thing is certain.
He started the first congressional brawl on Jan. 30, 1798 when he spat tobacco juice
into the face of Roger Griswold, a Federalist from Connecticut.
The Brawl between Matthew Lyon and Roger Griswold
Matthew Lyon, a Jeffersonian Republican-Democrat, had arrived in Philadelphia
half a year earlier ‘full of himself and seething with aggression.’ He had finally been
elected to the U.S. House of Representatives after several tries, and he was there to
‘take the side of the democrats against the aristocrats.’
One aristocrat said he felt, ‘ grieved that the saliva of an Irishman should be left upon
the face of an American.’
Matthew Lyon was born on July 14, 1749 in County Wicklow Ireland. His father
may have been executed for treason against the British. Whatever the case, he worked
to support his widowed mother and started to learn printing and bookbinding.
He emigrated to Woodbury, Conn., in 1764 as an indentured servant. Ten years
later he joined other white settlers and moved to Wallingford, Vt. (then the New
Hampshire Grants). In Wallingford, he bought cheap land and organized a militia.
When the American Revolution broke out, Matthew Lyon joined the Green Mountain
Boys and took part in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga. But then Gen. Horatio
Gates court-martialed him and had him dishonorably discharged.
There are two versions of what actually happened. According to Lyon and others,
he and his men were told to guard a cornfield, and he asked to leave Gates and
join Seth Warner. According to others — his political enemies — he was cashiered for
cowardice and forced to wear a wooden sword to show his shame.
Matthew Lyon did join Warner’s regiment and later rose to the rank of colonel in the
Vermont militia. He also received an appointment as deputy secretary to
Governor Thomas Chittenden, whose daughter he married.
He parlayed that connection into a seat in the Vermont House of
Representatives. In 1779, he founded Fair Haven, Vt., and finally won election to
Congress on his fourth try.
In Fair Haven he established the first store, built several mills and started a
newspaper that eventually became the Rutland Herald.
Feelings ran high in 1798 between the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans.
As a Jeffersonian, Matthew Lyon viewed himself as a champion of the common man
against the wealthy, well-educated Federalists.
During a ballot count on the House floor on Jan. 30, 1798, Matthew Lyon began
to bait Roger Griswold. He told him the Connecticut Federalists didn’t represent ninetenths of their constituents. If he ran a printing press in Connecticut, he said, he would
start a revolution there in six months. Griswold leaned over and asked if he would fight
with a wooden sword. Lyon spat tobacco juice in his face, earning him the nickname,
‘The Spitting Lyon.’
The Federalists excoriated Lyon. One Massachusetts Federalist said Lyon, a
‘kennel of filth,’ should be expelled from Congress. Another called him a ‘nasty,
brutish, spitting animal.’
Lyon retorted he had no choice because Federalist newspapers would bandy him
about as a ‘mean poltroon’ if he had said nothing to Griswold.
On Feb. 15, 1798, Griswold retaliated. While Lyon retrieved his mail, Griswold
jumped up and began beating him about the head with a wooden cane. Lyon grabbed a
pair of tongs to defend himself. Other congressmen managed to pull them apart,
grabbing Griswold by the legs to separate him from Lyon.
The House Ethics Committee later recommended censure, but the full House
rejected the motion.
Later that year, President John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts into
law. They criminalized criticism of the federal government, and Matthew Lyon was the
first to be tried and convicted under the Acts.
Lyon spent four months in a Vergennes, Vt., jail. The Green Mountain Boys
threatened to destroy it, but Lyon urged them not to. He ran for Congress from the jail
and won.
Two years later, Matthew Lyon got his revenge: He cast the deciding vote
in the election of Thomas Jefferson over John Adams.
VIDEO #2 OF 3:
Below: “Power Struggle Between Federalists and Republicans” (6:31)

For twelve years, control of the new government remains firmly in the hands of
Federalists – those who believed in a strong central government.
Gaining strength in the 1790s is a group that favors a weaker, smaller central
government – the “Jeffersonians,” also known as “republicans” – but nothing like
the Republican party of today. They were believers states’ rights and the rights of
the people and their local power. They were “republicans” with a small “r”
Both points of view are represented in Washington’s cabinet.
o Alexander Hamilton, an avowed Federalist, has an elaborate economic plan to
build the resources of the nation.
o Thomas Jefferson is suspicious of a strong central government.
The two sides argue over the concept of a national bank, the national debt issue,
the permanent location for a capitol, even the French Revolution.
Washington is the unifying force, but after eight years as president, he announces
his intention to leave public office.
Transcript of the above 4:12-minute video is below:
Now that there is a Broadway musical and people are falling in love with Alexander Hamilton, I
think it’s important for people to realize that most politicians have mixed legacies, and that certainly is
true for Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton could be a difficult person. He’s a complicated person, so clearly he had
friends and people who loved him and he was seemingly charismatic and high energy individual.
There were two Hamiltons – the public Hamilton who was guided by virtue and only wanted to serve
the public good; and then there’s the private Hamilton – somebody who has extramarital affairs and
whose values might seem to contradict the public good. But Hamilton argued that his private life
should not impact the way people see his public life.
One of the things to know about Hamilton is that at a very early point – during the Revolution, he
became convinced that there needed to be a stronger national government. So he becomes a really
early and loud nationalist. He was called a monarchist for a long time. His response was –no, I’m not
a monarchist, and people are being elected into office and if you don’t like them then you can elect
them out.
On the other hand, he really was trying to give as much power as possible to the government.
Hamilton was a lightening rod for the first party system. Part of the reason he’s the focus is
because nobody can attack Washington. And so when the Jeffersonians and others need somebody
to attack as a monarchist, someone undermining revolutionary values – they can’t attack Washington.
Washington WAS the revolution. It’s Hamilton that they can focus on.,
Hamilton, when he became Secretary of the Treasury, had a daunting challenge in front of him.
There was massive amounts of debt and no national structure of finance. Now he was the perfect guy
for that job because what he was really good at was administrating.
Washington and Hamilton both realized that for the country to be an international player, their debt
needed to be sound. So Hamilton had the essential but unpopular idea to unite the debt as one
common debt that was shared by the nation. And that, more than anything else helped established
the United States.
Hamilton has a mixed legacy, especially as Sec’y of the Treasury. On the one hand he was a vital
force for establishing national credit. He also was someone who was trying as hard as he could to
empower the national government, not trying to necessarily create a monarchy, but he believed that
the British monarchy was the finest government on the face of the earth, and he’s not shy about
saying that.
So that’s an extreme guy. He was not the only person who believed that, but he was a person who
had a lot of power, and was working toward that point of view. So some of the impact of that was
good, and some of it was scary. His policies were so polarizing that people began to rise up and
protest against them.
Hamilton, and our perception of him, has changed over time. He was reviled in his own time and
immediately afterward. But then, as the economy changed, and as the institutions that support this
economy have changed, so too have our perceptions of Hamilton.
It was important to have his voice there pushing. It was also really important to have other voices
pushing against him. We don’t often think of the founding as a dialogue, as a debate, but it was.
Many different voices needed to be part of that for whatever came out of that moment to be somewhat
I: Original Posting
Discussions in this history class are like quizzes. They are worth significant points because you need to
prove you learned the material and are thinking about the significance of the stories. Find your own details to
prove your point, or look for connections between information you learned in different sections of a chapter, or
between lecture and the reading. Sometimes you find connections between the current week’s material and a
previous week. All of that make your postings worth more points, because it shows your own critical thinking.
Grade A:
Uses 4 or more
Details/Examples specific details; uses
and Critical
information from all
sources: lecture,
reading and if
applicable, video.
Thoughtful and
Makes clear
connections between
the sources and fully
answers the question
Grade B:
Uses 2-3 specific
details; uses
information from
some, but not all
sources: lecture,
reading and if
applicable, video.
Thoughtful or
Makes no
connections between
the sources but
answers the question
New ideas, new
connections, made
with depth and detail
New ideas or
connections, lacks
depth and/or detail
Writes in complete
sentences. Few or
no grammar,
punctuation or
spelling errors.
Writes in complete
sentences. Some
punctuation or
spelling errors.
1-2 paragraphs; 8 or
more sentences
1-2 paragraphs; 6-7
Grade C:
Vague and lacks
details but refers to
one source: either
lecture, reading or
video. Information is
thin and
Grade D:
and superficial;
lacks details,
insight and
Makes no
connections between
the sources but
makes vague
generalities about
source material
Few, if any, new
ideas or connections;
rehash or summarize
other postings
sentences. Style
errors interferes with
Makes no
connections and
does not answer
the question.
Off topic.
1 paragraph, 4-5
No new ideas;
uses “I agree
errors make
Fewer than 4
II: Reply to Others’ Postings
1. Discuss one point you agree with, OR disagree with, and explain why.
2. Make a connection between a point the student made and information you discussed – what is
the EVIDENCE—what is the primary source or analysis from a historian? Why is the
information important for answering the discussion question? Support your statements. Use
evidence from your sources and provide a rationale for your points.
3. Length should be about 4 sentences

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