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The Inevitable Two Party System In The U.S.

2117 words - 9 pages

Was the formation of a two-party system in America inevitable? Despite George Washington’s warnings of the drawbacks in his farewell address, America continued on its path, and the system was established anyway. The emergence of a two-party system was inevitable in the United States for many reasons. One reason for the two party systems that formed were simply common issues of the day. This included the issue of federal power versus state power, which dominated American politics during the 1700s. America was also quite polar, meaning different regions tended to have different views and opinions from the others. Political parties often appealed to specific regions. Matters of the day were very influential on the types of political parties present in America, who tended to form around issues, rather than issues being assigned to them like in present day politics.
The creation and potential issues with political parties was ironically foreshadowed when George Washington, the first president of the United States, warned of them in his Farewell Address. He was unique, as he was essentially a president without a party. Yet, because of this, political parties were created. "I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the State, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations" (Washington). Washington likely mentioned the issue in his Farewell Address due to the rising heat on the issue of state power versus federal power.
The first political parties in America began to form at the end of the 18th century. "The conflict that took shape in the 1790s between the Federalists and the Antifederalists exercised a profound impact on American history." The two primary influences, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, worked together in George Washington's cabinet. "Hamilton sought a strong central government acting in the interests of commerce and industry … [while] Jefferson advocated a decentralized agrarian republic" (countrystudies.us/united-states/history-41.htm). Around these two polar political ideals, two political parties formed: the federalists and the democratic-republicans.
The Federalists believed in a strong federal government, as the name suggests. During his time as Secretary of Treasury, Hamilton pushed for the creation of a national bank, similar to that of England's. Hamilton, unlike Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans, believed that America's key to success lay in its commerce and manufacturing. He believed that the federal government should have the power to guide America to success, and so many of his actions strengthened the federal government over the states (teachinghistory.org/history-content/ask-a-historian/24094). Hamilton argued that "such an institution may be sometimes necessary as a defense to the people against their own temporary errors and delusions" (Hamilton or Madison).
The Democratic-Republicans were the polar opposites of the Federalists. "Jefferson believed that...

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