Joanne Freeman, a history professor at Yale, has written the best book of the last twenty years about the political elites of the early American republic.[*] It's about the ways they managed their hate and rage, the ways that they got through their days without too badly losing control of the feelings of disgust they had for one another.
The rules were distinctly personal in this "maelstrom of discontent," but they weren't rules about being nice: they were rules about not getting shot.
With their behavior regulated by the real possibility of violence, national political figures were expected to channel their interpersonal loathing down a few narrow paths; the code of honor meant that men could go only so far before they risked physical peril.
"On the unstructured national political stage," Freeman
writes, "this code assumed great importance, for politicking was about conflict and competition above all else.
"Most personal of all were defense pamphlets," Freeman
"Such blood-lust reveals the rage beneath the surface of paper war," writes Freeman