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Free Research Paper on Federalist Party

Bang! A single shot fired in the small town of Weehawken, New Jersey. The shooter: none other than the former vice president of the United States, Aaron Burr and his victim: the former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. These two rivals had despised each other for a long time and this hated finally culminated in the death of Hamilton. These two politicians were not just adversaries they were on opposite sides of the beginnings of the two party system in the United States. The Federalists and Democratic-Republicans grew out of opposing views and started a party system in the US for the first time. The formation of the two party system in the United States sparked a bitter rivalry between the founding parties, the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans.

In the year of 1789 the United States ordered the new Secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton to asses the national debt and try to come up with ways to solve the government’s credit troubles. Hamilton assessed the financial situation of the country and in 1790 submitted his first Report on Public Credit. He proposed that “the new federal government assume the debts of both its predecessor and the states, thus binding creditors to the central government” (Wheeler&Becker 96).

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After a long debate over whether it would work or not Congress passed Hamilton’s plan. Hamilton’s plan in order to finance the new proposal was a system of taxation. The most hated of all these taxes was the excise tax which in turn sparked the Whiskey Rebellion. These issues sparked two different political parties with very opposite views.

The Federalists were headed by “the most powerful figure in the new government and the one most responsible for making that new government work” (Wheeler&Becker 97). That man was Alexander Hamilton. The Federalist tended to favor a strong national government, the full payment of all debts including federal and state, the beginning of national bank, and a pro-British foreign policy. The Democratic-Republicans were led by the creator of the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson. They favored a central government with only partial powers, a strict interpretation of the Constitution and a Pro-French policy. The two parties had planted the seeds of what is the two party system today.

Never before had people have to side with a particular group. It was considered taboo for candidates to publicly and openly run for office. The Federalists initially did not involve themselves with political campaigning. They felt the best person for the job deserved it without any other means. The Democratic-Republicans however liked the idea of campaigning and their main political function was a barbeque which they gave free food and alcoholic beverages to patrons while candidates gave wild speeches This was called “grassroots electioneering” (Norton et al 146). Eventually the parties gained favor from various groups. The Democratic-Republicans were well liked by immigrants who were not from English dissent. They were very prominent in the south and middle states. In contrast the Federalists concentrated much of their effort in New England and most of their following were English settlers.

These two parties became bitter rivals due to the various elections in which they were running against one another. The Presidential elections of 1796 and 1800 are examples of this. The Presidential winners of these elections, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson each contributed to the growing battle of the two parties. During office Adams passed the Alien and Sedition Acts which put restrictions on the number of immigrants that could move to the United States. This was aimed directly at the Democratic-Republicans because of their popularity with the immigrants. In retaliation Jefferson and James Madison drafted some resolutions which were introduced in Virginia and Kentucky. These resolutions denounced the acts and urged states to join in a protest against them. Although no other state accepted the resolutions they had considerable influence. The resolutions according to Mary Beth Norton “rallied Democratic-Republican opinion throughout the country and simultaneously placed the party in the revolutionary tradition of resistance to tyrannical authority” (136).

This was the beginning of the end for the Federalists. The Democratic-Republicans were now gaining a lot of popularity which worked well to their advantage when they won the election of 1800 with Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson made immediate changes when taking on the role of president. He essentially cleaned out all of Adam’s administration and replaced them with Democratic-Republicans. Due to the Federalist’s failure to campaign as well as their rivals they were slowly erased from the political scene in the United States.

The United States party system became central to the political scene in the United States. The Federalists and Democratic-Republicans paved the way for what we know as the party system today. These two parties were such bitter rivals that there was often times that there political disagreement turned into violence as shown by the Burr-Hamilton duel. The fledgling nation faced one of its first tests with the formation of the two parties, one that still has roots today in our political system.

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