Social Tension And Political Mobilization In Jacksonian Society: A Case Study Of The Antimasonic Party In New York, Pennsylvania And Vermont, 1827-1840

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




James Roger Sharp


American history

Subject Categories

United States History


This study traces the history of the Antimasonic Party in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont. In each state America's first third party displayed unexpected political strength. In New York where political Antimasonry originated, the party dominated the western area of the state and mounted several strong gubernatorial campaigns between 1828 and 1832. In adjoining states, the party enjoyed more success. In Vermont, Antimasons controlled state government from 1831 to 1835. In Pennsylvania, Antimasons dominated the anti-Democratic opposition for a decade, and elected a governor in 1835.

The record of the party in the three states demonstrates that Antimasonry was a popular issue which served as a basis for an impressive challenge against political elites. The appeal of the issue testified to the concern of many voters about Freemasonry in antebellum society. Their resort to political action against the institution provides an important case study of party formation during the Second Party System.

This study focuses on the campaigns waged by the Antimasons in each state. In all states they effectively championed the popular Masonic issue. But at some point in the party's development, Antimasons also addressed other issues besides Masonry (either by linking other issues to the Antimasonic theme or in some instances championing them directly for political gain). A comparison of the strategies used by Antimasons highlights the differences of political cultures of each state.

In all three states the Antimasonic Party provided a dramatic example of voter mobilization in Jacksonian society. In many ways Antimasons foreshadowed the new style of politics associated with the Second Party System. Their efforts to inform and to involve the voters were imitated by other political parties. In this regard Antimasons did more than just mount strong political efforts in several states. They also helped to shape the character and style of American politics.


Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance.