"A Thing of Concert": The Politicization of Residential Spaces in Early National Philadelphia

Author: ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0002-4787-6507
Haigler, Mercedes, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Taylor, Alan, AS-History, University of Virginia
Edelson, S. Max, AS-History, University of Virginia

This essay explores the politicization of traditionally apolitical domestic and residential spaces in early national Philadelphia, as well as the intersection between feminized salon culture and traditionally male dominated political activities. Using the home of elite salonniére, Anne Willing Bingham, and her husband, senator William Bingham, as a focal point, I argue that spaces created primarily by women, such as political salons, were used to further elite men's political ends. Elite homes within the private sphere became hybridized socio-political spaces in which women and men could engage in informal political discussion. These same spaces, having been legitimized by social activities, then doubled as a means for Federalists to organize their party. Complicating the notion of the Federalist Party as conservative, exclusionary, and aristocratical elitists, I seek to reframe them as creative innovators who employed feminized residential spaces as a solution to challenges raised by the established political culture of the era. This essay highlights how Federalists used residential spaces to create organized party caucuses— a form of political machinery that would go on to be used by the Democratic Republicans and future parties— as well as the integral role that elite women played in making these caucuses possible.

MA (Master of Arts)
Early America, Political Culture, Philadelphia, Federalist Party, American Political Salons, Early Party Caucuses
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