From 1776 through 1787, two political parties dominated in America – the Federalists and the Nationalists. Led by Alexander Hamilton, the moderate Nationalists believed in a substantial national government that held sovereignty over the states. The Federalists, led by Thomas Jefferson, believed in a feeble federal government and state sovereignty. Under the Articles, the Federalists held the majority view. The thirteen states assembled in an alliance they termed a “…firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare” (Articles of Confederation).
Political divisions began to emerge in the 1790’s shortly after George Washington appointed Alexander Hamilton as the Secretary of Treasurer. Hamilton’s primary goal was to “establish the nation’s financial stability, bring to the government’s support the country’s most powerful financial interests, and encourage economic development” (Foner 223). He wanted to make the United States a major commercial and military power. With this in mind, Hamilton designed a five part financial plan between 1790 and 1791. The parts included creating creditworthiness by assuming the debt of the states, creating a new national debt, creating a Bank of the United States that would function as the nation’s main financial proxy, proposing a tax on producers of whiskey, and last but not least, imposing tariffs and providing government subsidies to industries.
But what about that third candidate, the Independent. They usually are more Liberal than the Democrats or more conservative than the Republicans. Normally the Republicans and the Democrats receive most of the votes. But the does not mean that the Independent parties receive none. In the 1992 Presidential election the Independent party received 19,743,821 votes, which was 18.9% of the total popular vote.
In other words, they thought it was fine to “read between the lines” of the Constitution. While on the other hand people like Jefferson and Madison believed that there is “no read between the lines” the Constitution says what it says and we must follow it by those rules. Federalists also believed in strong/active federal government, faith in government order, pro-tax, and industrial/commercial economy. Conversely, the republicans wanted a weak/inactive federal government, they were fearful of the government, anti-tax, and agrarian economy. Federalists believed the future of our country was in commerce, business, trade, and industry.
The Federalists became a political party in 1787 during the debate for ratification of the Constitution. They worked to try to get states to ratify the Constitution. Federalists were those who supported a strong national government, unlike the government that existed under the Articles of Confederation. They encouraged the industries, and they establishment of a well ordered society. The Federalists were a powerful and wealthy party consisting of businessmen, lawyers, bankers and highly educated men and gained a lot of their support from the North, where business was strong.
When the Federalist party was organized in 1791, those people who favored a strong central government and a loose constitutional interpretation coagulated and followed the ideals of men such as Alexander Hamilton. The first opposition political party in the United States was the Republican party, which held power, nationally, between 1801 and 1825. Those who were in favor of states rights and a strict construction of the constitution fell under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson. These Jeffersonian republicans, also known as anti-federalists, believed in strict adherence to the writings of the constitution. They wanted state’s rights and individual rights, which they believed could only be granted under strict construction of the constitution.
This system can be considered to have developed as a result of the factions in the George Washington administration. The two factions were Alexander Hamilton and John Adams with Federalists and Thomas Jefferson and James Madison with the Republican Party. The Federalists argued for a strong national government, to push for aggressive economic development with a greater emphasis on farmers and states’ rights. They preferred to practice loose constructionism (loose interpretations of the Constitution) to argue that government power should be used to promote economic development through the creation of a national bank, federally financed roads, harbors, and bridges. Federalists believed that America’s economic future depended on the cultivation of strong commercial ties with Great Britain.
The Federalists worked to create a stronger national government, supported British in foreign affairs, and favored a national bank. The Federalist Party was the first to appear and it was formed around Alexander Hamilton, who served as secretary of the treasury in the new government organized by George Washington and by John Adams who was the first Vice-President of the United States. The Federalists were a powerful and wealthy party; some of their supporters were in the north and among the merchant class, large planters, bankers, and professionals. The Federalists were most influential in the North where they loved Britain and all things British. The Federalists felt that there should be a loose constructionist interpretation of the constitution.
The Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, believed in supremacy of national government, broad and loose interpretation of the Constitution, and commercial and industrial development. They were pro-British. They favored national bank and protective tariffs. Therefore, they gained support mainly from American financiers, manufacturers, merchants, and established political leaders mainly outside the South. On the contrary, the Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Madison, were suspicious of national government.
In the new government of the United States of America, the president had a Cabinet with a Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of War, Attorney General and Postmaster General. George Washington, the first president of the United States of America, asked Thomas Jefferson to be the Secretary of State and asked Alexander Hamilton to be the Secretary of the Treasury. Because of the polarity of their political beliefs, Thomas Jefferson, a Republican who believed in strong states rights, and Alexander Hamilton, a Federalist who believed in a strong federal government, had differing opinions on all matters in the government. While Jefferson written that all men are created equal in the Declaration of Independence, Hamilton had helped created the constitution that founded a strong federal government. Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton laid the groundwork for America’s first two-party system.