Aurora Rising


Richard N. Rosenfeld's American Aurora is a book you should read, but if you want to take the easy way out, you can learn a little about Benjamin Franklin Bache and his anti-Federalist Philadelphia Aurora from David Talbot's recent "Documents of Freedom" essay comparing Bache with his grandfather Ben Franklin. It's worth sitting through the ad for Thirteen to get your Salon pass. Warning for conservatives: Talbot slags Drudge and Rush, but he makes a good case that Bache was a crucial figure in the early republic:

After Adams' election, Federalist animosity toward Bache grew into persecution. In the spring of 1797, he was physically attacked and badly injured by a young Federalist while touring a ship at the Philadelphia waterfront. The Adams administration awarded Bache's assailant with a diplomatic appointment to France. The following year, while Bache was away, a drunken Federalist mob surrounded his home and terrorized his wife and children before being driven off by neighbors. The attacks prompted the publisher to wonder whether it "might, indeed, be a gratification to some that I should have my throat cut."

Murder might not have been on the minds of Bache's enemies, but certainly imprisonment was. The following year, the Federalists in Congress pushed through the notorious Sedition Act—a bill, commented Thomas Jefferson, that was aimed directly at his republican ally, Benjamin Franklin Bache. On June 26, 1798, Bache was arrested by a federal marshal and charged with "libeling the President & the Executive Government." Slapped with a crushing bail of $4,000, Bache was forced to appeal to his friends for help and the Aurora and his family teetered on the brink of ruin.