familiesnotably the Van Rensselaerscounted for a good deal in the political world. After the close of the War of 1812, however, the Federalists became of no moment, and the Livingstons, the aristocratic wing of the Democratic party, sank out of sight. The reign of the great families who for over a century had played so prominent a part in New York political life, was then at an end. They lost every shred of political power, and the commonwealth became what it had long been becoming, in fact as well as name, absolutely democratic. The aristocratic leaven in the loaf disappeared completely. The sway of the people was absolute from that time on.
After Washington, the greatest and best of the Federalist leaders, died, and after the Jeffersonian Democrats came into power, the two parties in New York, as elsewhere throughout the country, began to divide on a very humiliating line. They fought each other largely on questions of foreign politics. The Federalists supported the British in the European struggle then raging, and the Democrats the French. One side became known as the British, the other as the French faction. Each man with abject servility apologized for and defended the numerous outrages committed against us by the nation whose cause his party championed. It was a thoroughly unwholesome and discreditable condition of politics,worse