Factional Politics and Credit Networks in Revolutionary Vermont

Hillmann, Henning

Studies of state formation tend to emphasize the demise of localism through centralization. This article empirically specifies the social structural conditions that strengthen localism under state formation. The historical case is the creation of Vermont during the Revolutionary War and the local factionalism it involved. Probate records are used to reconstruct credit networks that provided the relational foundation for localism and factional identities. The evidence demonstrates that network segregation between factional regions intensified over time, and was supported by strong cohesion within these regions. Local brokers who forged cohesion within factions consistently attained important political offices while mediators between opposing factions increasingly failed to obtain offices. This structural process coincided with the shift of Vermont's domestic politics into national level conflicts between Federalists and Jeffersonians. Within this escalation local and national factions crystallized around equivalent pairs of binary categorical oppositions. The evocation of national politics directly resonated with local lines of conflict, and reinforced factional identities and localism.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy
Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, Columbia University
ISERP Working Papers, 03-02
Published Here
August 23, 2010


January 2003.