Political Party System: The Federalists Vs. The Republicans

1550 words - 6 pages

Before the Declaration of Independence in 1776, colonies were separate from each other; there was very little interaction. As Britain exerted their power on the colonies, imposing unreasonable taxes without colonial consent, people realized their freedom was threatened. Colonists felt the need to unite and act together to call for independence. When the country finally claimed its independence, Americans started to drift apart once again due to the differences in their viewpoints. Political parties came into existence. Composed of two parties, the Federalists and the Republicans, they took turns to govern the country with their own ideas and principles. They shared different ideas on many aspects and opposed every move the opponent made.
As the Constitution of 1787 was introduced, two political parties were present in Congress. One of them was the Federalists and the other was the Republicans. The Federalists were led by George Washington and John Adams. They were composed of elites and favored trading with Britain. Their supporters were mainly merchants, farmers, lawyers, and established political leaders. They believed that freedom “rested on the deference of authority” (Foner 288). The Republicans were led by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. They believed in democratic self-government and favored agricultural. Their supporters composed mainly of farmers. Their goal was to establish a “limited government [that] allowed its citizens to be ‘free to regulate their own pursuits’” (Foner 303). According to Foner, “[The Republicans] were far more critical than the Federalists of social and economic inequality, and more accepting of broad democratic participation as essential to freedom” (Foner 289).
One main difference between the two parties was the way they viewed the government. The Federalists wanted the government to be the center of power. The Federalists, according to Foner, “may have been the only one major party in American history forthrightly to proclaim democracy and freedom dangerous in the hands of ordinary citizen” (288). For example, President Washington enforced a new tax on alcohol, which provoked citizens and led to the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 because people declared that the tax went against the idea of freedom – the foundation of the nation and that the government was abusing their authority. Another example was the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 that targeted those who criticized the government. This will be discussed further in later in the essay.
In contrast, the Republicans believed that government power should be minimized and instead focused on the people. For example, critics of the Washington administration formed the Democratic-Republican societies to criticize the current government. They also promoted the idea that all men were equal and that the government should respect their citizens’ opinions. They stated that “political liberty meant not simply voting at elections but constant involvement in public...

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