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Browsing by Author "Korhonen, Niko Mikael"

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  • Korhonen, Niko Mikael (2023)
    This thesis aims to examine the manifestation of political polarization in the Territory of Montana during the years 1864 to 1867. The American Civil War and its aftermath largely dictate the national political context and the thesis examines how that context influences and polarizes the local politics of the territory at the time. The viewpoint of the thesis is an intersection of political, legal, and social history. While it does not use the settler colonial theory as primary framework, tensions between the local communities of settlers and indigenous Americans, as well as their relations to the federal government are important parts of the setting. The thesis employs a large volume of both sources and previous research to establish its conclusion. As always in historical research, close reading of the source materials and careful contextualization with the subject and the general historical setting are the primary methods. The research presented concludes that the political polarization in Montana Territory during the years 1864-1867 manifested itself mainly as tensions between the federally appointed officials and the local community, which included majority of the locally elected legislature. While bipartisan efforts existed and a large amount of consensus existed in local matters, the national politics, which were very polarized during and after the Civil War, drove a wedge between local and federal interests. The local community mainly supported the Democratic Party, while the federal officials were mostly Republican. Both camps contributed to the polarization, but the biggest single factor was the poor relationship between the Acting Governor Thomas F. Meagher, who sided with the local miner community, and the Montana elite, which largely consisted of the federally appointed officials such as the members of the Territorial Supreme Court and first governor Sidney Edgerton, as well as Montana Post, the most influential newspaper in the territory at the time. While Montana leaned Democratic in its early years, as evidence of the few partisan elections that were concluded, suggests, the federal government in Washington at the time was controlled by the Republican Party, or Union Party as it was alternatively known at the time