The Reynolds Affair, Party Politics And Sexuality In The Early Republic

Alexandra Gross
This project analyzes the language and rhetoric used in the Jeffersonians' attacks on Alexander Hamilton following the exposure of the Reynolds Affair in 1797; specifically, the Jeffersonian press invoked existing tropes of aristocratic male sexual privilege in their portrayal of the Reynolds Affair to transform the personal into the political and attack Hamilton and his associates' fitness for public office. In their highly stylized, purposeful, and sensational presentation of the Reynolds
more » ... of the Reynolds Affair, the Jeffersonians attempted to define unacceptable behavior in terms of civic capacity in the new nation. Hamilton and the Federalists were often accused of aristocratic and monarchical leanings; consequently, the Jeffersonian press wrote of Hamilton's conduct in such a way that readers would recognize his behavior as further proof of his true aristocratic nature and attachment to monarchy, nobility, and hereditary titles. To make their point, Jeffersonian writers relied on recognizable tropes from contemporary literature, such as the aristocratic libertine and the naive ingenue in their reports of the Reynolds Affair.
doi:10.21220/s2-nxg4-h614 fatcat:ipq2nbgxcjcldgr5t2xfkm7liy