wanted a free society on the basis that nobody could do anything to restrict
the freedom of others.The
Republicans of the 1790s coalesced around the broad issues of limiting federal
power, defending state authority, and expanding popular participation in
politics. Republicans also opposed any sort of alliance with Great Britain,
which they believed would always attempt to keep the United States in a kind of
the recurring debates on European alliances, the Republicans were sympathetic
to France because of ties dating from the American Revolution and the liberal,
republican politics of French reformers. Even as many in the United States
became disenchanted with the course of the French Revolution and French
restrictions on American commerce, the Republicans adamantly opposed closer
ties to Great Britain. Great Britain’s mercantile and commercial strength, they
feared, would restrict the economic growth of the United States. Furthermore,
Great Britain’s monarchy and hierarchical society were fundamentally at odds
with the republican principles of the United States government.
Federalists wanted a society where the majority (which in reality always ends up being the ruling class) could decide what was best for everybody.The Federalists emerged in the 1790s as a coalition of individuals who supported a strong national government, diplomatic ties with Great Britain, and the political leadership of men of property and experience.The early Federalists were closely associated with the policies of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. Most Federalists believed that representative governments were easily undermined by an excess of democracy. The stability of the new national government thus depended on the establishment of a certain distance from the direct voice of the people. Once elected, officeholders should be free from popular pressures. Federalists also believed that government was safest in the hands of what they called “independent” individuals, which usually meant people of wealth and social standing. In the opinion of the Federalists, state governments in the 1780s presented a threat to republican government precisely because they were too beholden to an electorate that made frequent changes in officeholders and demanded that government serve narrow, local interests. In any number of policies, from the funding of the national debt to the organization of the federal courts, Federalists hoped to expand the authority of the national government at the expense of the states.Federalist support was strongest in New England, but some centers of support existed even in the South, such as in South Carolina. After the defeat of John Adams in 1800, the Federalists never again held the presidency, and their membership in Congress declined. By the close of the War of 1812, the party virtually ceased to exist.
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