Behind The Federal Facade

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Otis is probably best remembered for his role in the Hartford Convention. Meeting in the Bulfinch-designed Connecticut Statehouse in the winter of 1814–15, New England Federalists were led by Otis in drawing up a list of grievances against the government’s involvement in the War of 1812. When the surprising news of the peace treaty at Ghent was accompanied by word of Andrew Jackson’s victory at New Orleans, Otis and his party were ridiculed. As the fortunes of the Federalist party declined, so did the Federal style in architecture. And the shift to simpler Greek-influenced architectural styles seemed to portend a new model for America’s political and social order, as it moved into the era of Jacksonian democracy.