Did The Constitution Intend For A Multi Party Political System, Or Did This System Simply Become Prevalent In America On Its Own?

972 words - 4 pages

The writers of the American Constitution did not specify or recommend a number of political parties for government. They were counting on the democratic election system to assure that all people were fairly represented in Congress. However, by 1790 two main parties had emerged--the Federalists, who supported a powerful national government, and the Democratic Republicans, who favored states' rights. The two original parties served to balance each other and helped keep the government from sliding to either extreme Federalism or extreme Republicanism. In this fashion, multiple political parties allowed Americans to enjoy more fully the benefits of a representative democracy, kept the ambitions of early American leaders in check, and helped the early American political system continuously evolve to keep pace with the quickly changing times. During the 1790's, members of both political groups tended to be quite radical in their beliefs; that is, they supported strongly their own party's actions and argued against the policies and practices of the opposing party. The formation of political parties helped to make sure that the interests of the people, and not the interests of either specific party, were of primary concern during the creation of laws. For instance, the Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts during Adams' presidency hoping to stay in power by silencing some political opponents and ensuring that others would not have the opportunity to vote. Soon after, Jefferson was elected president after an electoral tie with Aaron Burr, and the Acts were repealed due to unconstitutionality. Interestingly enough, the Alien and Sedition acts were actually intended to silence critics of the Federalist party and presumably to support a single-party system within the government. Without the two-party system of the time, the Acts might not have been nullified. Another good example is Alexander Hamilton's complex plan for the nation's fiscal problems while both he and Thomas Jefferson served in the cabinet under George Washington. Hamilton wanted to establish a federal bank to help shrink the national debt, but Jefferson opposed this and argued that the Constitution did not specifically allow the government to establish a bank. Washington asked both men to prepare an argument and present it, which they did. Though Hamilton eventually won his bank, the importance of this was far overshadowed by the example that was set for future presidents. By listening to arguments from both sides, Washington was able to make an informed decision that would benefit the majority of Americans. Without similar opposing viewpoints, Congress might have made much more rash decisions that would have hurt the growth of the nation early on.The two parties in early American history represented two halves of society at the time. Federalists were generally wealthy or at least well-off. They were the educated merchants, industrialists, and statesmen who lived in the...

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