Effect Of Foreign Affairs On Domestic Politics

1292 words - 5 pages

A major concern in current politics is a foreign affair: the war in Afghanistan. One would not consider supporting a politician without knowing how they stand on this issue. A foreign affair with a prominent place in domestic politics will significantly influence the political landscape. In the U.S. presidential election of 1796 another foreign affair dominated domestic politics: how to react to the French Revolution and maintain American neutrality. The prominent politicians of the day had many different opinions. George Washington focused on the importance of remaining neutral during the end of his second term. John Adams inherited the problem when he was inaugurated. However, his views clashed with those of his vice president Thomas Jefferson who favored affiliation with the French. Adams also disagreed with Alexander Hamilton a leader in the Federalist Party with which Adams was supposed to be affiliated. Hamilton and the Federalists were dead set against any negotiations with France.

As leader of the Republican Party Thomas Jefferson viewed the French Revolution as a continuation of the American Revolution, a movement Republicans were sure would travel around the world. They considered the French Revolutionaries as heroic patriots. England, which had taken advantage of France’s weak state after their revolution and attacked, was therefore the villain. Thus they had been extremely opposed to Jay’s Treaty, a treaty created with England under Washington’s administration in 1794, and favored a French-American Alliance. But, when Napoleon took over in 1800 Jefferson was quick to change his position. The Federalists on the other hand were opposed to an alliance with France. Hamilton was a prominent Federalist and his financial plan was modeled off the banks in England. The Federalists aspired to create and economy and political atmosphere similar to England’s, thus favoring affiliation with England rather than France. Both parties though that they were maintaining American neutrality, but each had a different way of going about it. One thing they did agree on however was the need to keep the union intact; to avoid, at all costs, anything that could cause secession.

In 1794 France and England were at war as a result of the French Revolution. England had taken to taking American ships when they tried to trade with France, and Washington wanted to avoid and escalation of the problem. In an effort to avoid war and give the Union time to develop and strengthen George Washington sent Chief Justice John Jay to England to negotiate a treaty. Jay’s Treaty heavily favored England. While it avoided a war it was a hard bargain that met considerable opposition. The fact that England retained tariffs on American exports and English imports had preferred status was just the tip of the iceberg. The advantages to the U.S. seemed nonexistent to those outside the upper echelon of politics. This left those who could see the...

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