Federalist party


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Federalist party,

in U.S. history, the political faction that favored a strong federal government.

Origins and Members

In the later years of the Articles of Confederation there was much agitation for a stronger federal union, which was crowned with success when the Constitutional ConventionConstitutional Convention,
in U.S. history, the 1787 meeting in which the Constitution of the United States was drawn up. The Road to the Convention

The government adopted by the Thirteen Colonies in America (see Confederation, Articles of, and Continental
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 drew up the Constitution of the United States. The men who favored the strong union and who fought for the adoption of the Constitution by the various states were called Federalists, a term made famous in that meaning by the Federalist Papers (see Federalist, TheFederalist, The,
series of 85 political essays, sometimes called The Federalist Papers, written 1787–88 under the pseudonym "Publius." Alexander Hamilton initiated the series with the immediate intention of persuading New York to approve the Federalist Constitution.
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) of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay.

After the Constitution was adopted and the new government was established under the presidency of George Washington, political division appeared within the cabinet, the opposing groups being headed by Alexander HamiltonHamilton, Alexander,
1755–1804, American statesman, b. Nevis, in the West Indies. Early Career

He was the illegitimate son of James Hamilton (of a prominent Scottish family) and Rachel Faucett Lavien (daughter of a doctor-planter on Nevis and the estranged
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 and by Thomas JeffersonJefferson, Thomas,
1743–1826, 3d President of the United States (1801–9), author of the Declaration of Independence, and apostle of agrarian democracy. Early Life

Jefferson was born on Apr. 13, 1743, at "Shadwell," in Goochland (now in Albemarle) co.
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. The party that emerged to champion Hamilton's views was the Federalist party. Its opponents, at first called Anti-FederalistsAnti-Federalists,
in American history, opponents of the adoption of the federal Constitution. Leading Anti-Federalists included George Mason, Elbridge Gerry, Patrick Henry, and George Clinton.
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, drew together into a Jeffersonian party; first called the Republicans and later the Democratic Republicans, they eventually became known as the Democratic partyDemocratic party,
American political party; the oldest continuous political party in the United States. Origins in Jeffersonian Democracy

When political alignments first emerged in George Washington's administration, opposing factions were led by Alexander Hamilton
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. Party politics had not yet crystallized when John AdamsAdams, John,
1735–1826, 2d President of the United States (1797–1801), b. Quincy (then in Braintree), Mass., grad. Harvard, 1755. John Adams and his wife, Abigail Adams, founded one of the most distinguished families of the United States; their son, John Quincy
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 was elected President, but the choice of Adams was, nevertheless, a modest Federalist victory.

The Federalists were conservatives; they favored a strong centralized government, encouragement of industries, attention to the needs of the great merchants and landowners, and establishment of a well-ordered society. In foreign affairs they were pro-British, while the Jeffersonians were pro-French. The members of the Federalist party were mostly wealthy merchants, big property owners in the North, and conservative small farmers and businessmen. Geographically, they were concentrated in New England, with a strong element in the Middle Atlantic states.

Federalist Policies

During Washington's second administration, and under that of John Adams, Federalist domestic policies were given a chance to prove themselves. The young nation's economy was established on a sound basis, while the governmental structure was expanded and an honest and efficient administrative system was developed. In foreign affairs, however, trouble with France led to virtual warfare in 1798. It led also to the Alien and Sedition ActsAlien and Sedition Acts,
1798, four laws enacted by the Federalist-controlled U.S. Congress, allegedly in response to the hostile actions of the French Revolutionary government on the seas and in the councils of diplomacy (see XYZ Affair), but actually designed to destroy Thomas
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, passed by the Federalist-controlled Congress ostensibly in response to hostile actions of the French Revolutionary government but actually designed to destroy the Jeffersonians. John Adams, who was a moderate and honest man, followed the course he considered wise, and by rejecting Hamilton's extreme desires, he caused something of a division in the Federalist ranks.

The Triumph of the Jeffersonian Opposition

The Jeffersonians were meanwhile winning popular support not only among Southern landowners but also among the mechanics, workers, and generally the less privileged everywhere. Jefferson showed skill in building his party, and the Jeffersonians were much better at publicity than were the Federalists.

The election of 1800 was a Federalist debacle. The Jeffersonians came to power and stayed there, establishing the so-called Virginia dynasty, with James Madison succeeding Jefferson and James Monroe succeeding Madison. The Federalist party remained powerful locally, but increasingly the leadership passed to the reactionaries rather than to the moderates. It tended to be a New England party.

This trend was accentuated in the troubled period before the War of 1812. Merchants and shipowners were opposed to the Embargo Act of 1807Embargo Act of 1807,
passed Dec. 22, 1807, by the U.S. Congress in answer to the British orders in council restricting neutral shipping and to Napoleon's restrictive Continental System. The U.S.
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, which caused considerable economic loss to the seaboard cities, and their feelings were expressed through the Federalist party. The Federalists, however, failed to enlist De Witt ClintonClinton, De Witt
, 1769–1828, American statesman, b. New Windsor, N.Y.; son of James Clinton. He was admitted (1790) to the New York bar but soon became secretary to his uncle, George Clinton, first governor of the state, and in that position (1790–95) gained
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 and his followers in New York in their cause, and their challenge in the elections of 1808 was easily overridden by the Jeffersonians.

Dissolution of the Party

Opposition to war brought the Federalists the support of Clinton and many others, and the party made a good showing in the election of 1812, winning New England (except for radical Vermont), New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and part of Maryland. They failed, however, in Pennsylvania and lost the election. While the country was at war, the disgruntled merchants of New England, represented by the Essex JuntoEssex Junto,
group of New England merchants and lawyers, so called because many of them came from Essex co., Mass. They opposed the radicals in Massachusetts in the American Revolution and supported the Federalist faction of Alexander Hamilton.
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, contemplated secession and called the Hartford ConventionHartford Convention,
Dec. 15, 1814–Jan. 4, 1815, meeting to consider the problems of New England in the War of 1812; held at Hartford, Conn. Prior to the war, New England Federalists (see Federalist party) had opposed the Embargo Act of 1807 and other government measures;
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. Thus, paradoxically the Federalists became the champions of states' rightsstates' rights,
in U.S. history, doctrine based on the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
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.

The successful issue of the war ruined the party, which became firmly and solely the party of New England conservatives. The so-called era of good feelings followed, and politics became a matter of internal strife within the Democratic party. The Federalist party did not even offer a presidential candidate in 1820, and by the election of 1824 it was virtually dead.

Bibliography

See C. G. Bowers, Jefferson and Hamilton (1925); W. O. Lynch, Fifty Years of Party Warfare (1931); L. D. White, The Federalists (1948); S. G. Kurtz, The Presidency of John Adams: The Collapse of Federalism, 1795–1800 (1957, repr. 1961); J. C. Miller, The Federalist Era, 1789–1801 (1960, repr. 1963); S. Livermore, The Twilight of Federalism (1962); D. H. Fischer, The Revolution of American Conservatism (1965); L. K. Kerber, Federalists in Dissent (1970).

References in periodicals archive ?
Though the Tallmadge Amendment was not advanced to resurrect the Federalist Party under the banner of antislavery--as some insisted--the development of such a schism, whether intended or not, was well within the realm of possibility (Forbes 2007, 57-58, 75).
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Indeed, the "party" of Jefferson and Madison was the principal agent in stamping out the Federalist Party to which John Adams and, more strongly, Hamilton and others were closely identified.
Sharp discusses regional dissension between the largely Northern Federalist party and the largely Southern Republican party, but does not acknowledge such sectionalism within the parties themselves, still assuming that the nation was divided into two coherent parties--or "proto-parties.
An enthusiastic proponent of the new federal constitution in 1787 to 1788, Marshall gradually emerged as the foremost leader of the Federalist Party in Virginia.
The Federalist party drew heavily from the states Anglicans, particularly those living in and around New York City.
Hamilton became the first Secretary of the Treasury, rescuing the young nation from a sea of debt and later emerged as the leader of the Federalist Party, forerunner of today's Republican Party.
Adams' Federalist Party accused the Jeffersonians of many sins, including being too pro-French and anti-British.
The Federalist Party nominee, Charles Pinckney, recaptured three New England states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island) that had voted for Jefferson in 1804.
What Jefferson called the "revolution of 1800-as real a revolution in the principles of our government as that of 1776 was in form" (10) marked the Republican ascent to a national party and extinction of the Federalist Party.
the Federalist Party (It did not hold power after 1801.
Republicans who defend the trampling of the Bill of Rights in the name of "national security" or "the war on terror" would do well to remember how the infamous alien and sedition acts brought down the Federalist Party after the administration of John Adams.