Kinder Fellow Armin Mattes' Lecture on Patronage in Early American Society


For the second meeting of the Kinder Forum’s Friday History Colloquium Series, Postdoctoral Research Fellow Armin Mattes provided a preview of his current book project, which will focus on changes to the practical meaning of patronage in America during the years 1750-1850. Using the example of Benjamin Franklin, Dr. Mattes first argued that, because of the network of intimate personal dependencies that it fostered, patronage had a significant hand in both shaping and maintaining the hierarchical structure of American social and political life in the colonial era. Mattes then examined Jefferson and Madison’s repudiation of how Hamilton used patronage to insulate his political initiatives from resistance, as well as John Quincy Adams’ meritocratic approach to office, before discussing the fundamental transformation of patronage that occurred during the age of Jacksonian democracy. Though “King Andrew” was widely critiqued for his spoils system, Dr. Mattes argued that Jackson actually democratized patronage on some level by re-imagining it as a means by which to create a political network of impersonal, egalitarian relationships. A Q&A and reception on the town followed the lecture, which was held in Gentry Hall on the University of Missouri campus.

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