Few if any periods in our national history have been marked by a greater variety of clashing interests than the closing decade of the eighteenth century. Owing in part to inexperience in grappling with the problems of government, in part to widely belligerent and irreconcilable elements among the people, in part to grave international complications and concerns, and in part, confessedly, to rumors and excitements for which, as events proved, no adequate grounds existed, the lives of the people of New England were tossed rudely about on rough currents and counter currents of mingled hope and anguish. To a dispassionate observer (if anywhere on the green earth at the close of the eighteenth century such an individual might have been found) it must have seemed as though the citizens of New England. were as so many bits of wood, bobbing up and down on waters excessively choppy but otherwise motionless. The agitation, however, was not merely superficial; issues and movements of the most profound significance were pouring their impetuous torrents through channels freshly cut and steadily deepened by new streams of human interest which the erection of the national government, in particular, had started on their tortuous ways.

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