Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




The creation of a new political culture, comprised of the Democratic and Whig parties, in Rutherford County, Tennessee, resulted from a community division over the desirability of both political and economic change. Before the early 1830s, Rutherford County had been a Democratic party stronghold. But when, in light of the community's own economic stagnation, those who doubted the Democrats' wisdom in opposing a national bank, joined John Bell and Hugh Lawson White's political revolt in 1835, a new way of politics soon appeared in Rutherford County. The Depression of 1837, which severely rocked Rutherford Countians, turned more "true" Jackson men toward the ranks of the opposition. Once the financial policies of the Jackson and Van Buren administrations wre discredited, a consistent majority of Rutherford Countians became loyal members of the Whig party. Parties, therefore, had crystallized by 1839. Despite Democratic efforts at regaining the state capital for Rutherford County and maintaining the traditional character of the community, most Rutherford Countians opted for the Whig view of the world, even if that meant significant economic changes would occur.;The Whigs and Democrats of Rutherford County were different men. A majority of Whigs lived in the Garden of the community, while most Democrats lived in the Barrens. Whigs, therefore, were wealthier men. They also held different occupations, with one-fourth of the Whig party leaders engaged in commerce and/or manufacturing.;Quite possibly, the author suggests, the concept of modernization is a good explanation of the changes that Rutherford Countians experienced from 1800 to 1850. They did construct a recognizably modern political system and the issue of modern finance--the central banking system of Nicholas Biddle's Bank of the United States--was the major issue undermining the county's Democratic consensus.



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