America Political Parties In The Making

1789-1860

America was the first modern nation to achieve independence through a successful revolution against colonial rule. Many other colonies have subsequently won independence, but few have been as successful in subsequent economic and political development. [1]. Within America, the two political thoughts, the federalists and the Republicans, have dominated the whole American political landscape since the second quarter of seventeenth century. And we see, International affairs – the French Revolution and the subsequent war between royalist Britain and republican France – decisively shaped American politics in 1793-1800.[2]

Searching through the early beginning of political party system in America, it is very apparent to see the initial codification of political thought with the active beginning of federalist movement by celebrated leaders like George Washington, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton. As a land mark in American history, the Federalist Party in American politics is considered to be the party that organized the national government of the United States of America under the constitution of 1787. [3]

The framers of the Constitution had not prepared their plan of government with political parties in mind. They hoped that the “better sort of citizens” would debate key issues and reach a harmonious consensus regarding how best to legislate for the nation’s future. Thomas Jefferson reflected widespread sentiments when he declared in 1789, “If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.”[4]

Yet despite a belief that parties were evil and posed a threat to enlightened government, the nation’s first political parties emerged in the mid-1790s. Several factors contributed to the birth of parties. The Federalists, under the leadership of George Washington, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton, feared that their opponents wanted to tear down the Union, destabilize morality and property rights, and ally the United States with revolutionary France.

In contrast, the Republicans, under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, feared that the Federalists were trying to establish a corrupt monarchical society, like the one that existed in Britain, with a standing army, high taxes, and government-subsidized monopolies.

Republican, informally known as the “Grand Old Party (GOP)”, was founded in 1854 by opponents of Southern slavery. In 1860 its candidate, Abraham Lincoln, was elected President with the votes of the northern states, with the subsequent civil war between North and South (1861-65) resulting in victory for the North.[5]

They were much instrumental in the new turn of the American political situation. They defended the new United States Constitution, which owed much to the republican theory of mixed government.

The federalists were so favoring towards a strong central government.Even tough they had multiple views in action and was so influential for forming the constitution. Generally it is observed that they had a very “Loose” interpretation of the Constitution. Commercial policy, national security, and the nation’s reputation abroad were interrelated aspects of the Federalist conception of America’s foreign predicament.[6]

Featuring towards a new economic growth and social improvement, the mainstream though of federalism had encouraged commerce and manufacturing to improve further than the less productive existing situation. And they were very strong in Northeast and being reluctant to join with the polarizing thoughts of France they favored close ties with Britain, tough it became a big reason of expression of fear and anxiety from republicans.

From a federalist perspective they emphasized order and stability. Emphasized states’ rights. And contrast to the federalist thought republics had a “Strict” interpretation of the Constitution. And in contrast the federalist thoughts, the republics paid more attention to agriculture and rural life. Their major strength was in South and West. Ironically in deep deviation from the federalist though the republicans had a Foreign policy sympathized with France. And more trust was given on civil liberties and trust in the people.

References

1. The Birth of Political Parties, The First New Nation 1790s, retrieved on 3rd march 2008

http://www.gilderlehrman.org/teachers/module3/index.html

2. Elkins and McKitrick, ch 8; Sharp (1993) p. 70 for quote, retrieved on 3rd March

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federalist_Party#_note-5

3. Article defining federalism, Retrieved on 2 March 2008

http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/Federalist_Party

4. Encyclopedia of politics: The left and the right, pp 248, Volume 1, sage publication, 2005

5. Political Parties of the World, pp. 6376th edition, John Harper Publishing 2005

6 Marshal, Jonathan, Empire or Liberty: The Anti-federalists and Foreign policy, The Journal of Libertarian studies, Vol. IV, No 3 (summer 1980) 233

7. Skinner, Q.: The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, vol. I: The Renaissance.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978.

8. Arendt, H.: On Revolution. New York: Viking; London: Faber, 1963; Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *