Federalist Party

Federalist Party
LeaderAlexander Hamilton
John Jay
John Adams
Charles C. Pinckney
DeWitt Clinton
Rufus King[1]
Founded1789
Dissolved1824 (1824)
Succeeded byNational Republican Party (1825)
Anti-Masonic Party (1828)
Whig Party (1833)
American Party (1844)
Republican Party (1854)
IdeologyAmerican School
Centralization[2]
Classical conservatism[1][3]
Federalism
Protectionism
Hamiltonianism
Modernization[citation needed
]
American nationalism
Political positionCenter-right to Right-wing[4][5]
Colors     Black      White[6]

The Federalist Party, referred to as the Pro-Administration party until the 3rd United States Congress (as opposed to their opponents in the Anti-Administration party), was the first American political party. It existed from the early 1790s to 1816. It appealed to business and to conservatives who favored banks, national over state government, manufacturing, and (in world affairs) preferred Britain and opposed the French Revolution.

The Federalists called for a strong national government that promoted economic growth and fostered friendly relationships with Great Britain as well as opposition to revolutionary France. The party controlled the federal government until 1801, when it was overwhelmed by the Democratic-Republican opposition led by Thomas Jefferson.

The Federalist Party came into being between 1792 and 1794 as a national coalition of bankers and businessmen in support of Alexander Hamilton's fiscal policies. These supporters developed into the organized Federalist Party, which was committed to a fiscally sound and nationalistic government. The only Federalist President was John Adams. George Washington was broadly sympathetic to the Federalist program, but he remained officially non-partisan during his entire presidency.[7]

Federalist policies called for a national bank, tariffs, and good relations with Great Britain, as expressed in the Jay Treaty negotiated in 1794. Hamilton developed the concept of implied powers and successfully argued the adoption of that interpretation of the United States Constitution. Their political opponents, the Democratic-Republicans led by Thomas Jefferson, denounced most of the Federalist policies, especially the bank and implied powers; and vehemently attacked the Jay Treaty as a sell-out of republican values to the British monarchy. The Jay Treaty passed and the Federalists won most of the major legislative battles in the 1790s. They held a strong base in the nation's cities and in New England. After the Democratic-Republicans, whose base was in the rural South, won the hard-fought presidential election of 1800, the Federalists never returned to power. They recovered some strength by their intense opposition to the War of 1812, but they practically vanished during the Era of Good Feelings that followed the end of the war in 1815.[8]

The Federalists left a lasting legacy in the form of a strong Federal government with a sound financial base. After losing executive power they decisively shaped Supreme Court policy for another three decades through the person of Chief Justice John Marshall.[9]

Rise

On taking office in 1789, President Washington nominated New York lawyer Alexander Hamilton to the office of Secretary of the Treasury. Hamilton wanted a strong national government with financial credibility. Hamilton proposed the ambitious Hamiltonian economic program that involved assumption of the state debts incurred during the American Revolution, creating a national debt and the means to pay it off and setting up a national bank, along with creating tariffs. James Madison was Hamilton's ally in the fight to ratify the new Constitution, but Madison and Thomas Jefferson opposed Hamilton's programs by 1791. Political parties had not been anticipated when the Constitution was drafted in 1787 and ratified in 1788, even though both Hamilton and Madison played major roles. Parties were considered to be divisive and harmful to republicanism. No similar parties existed anywhere in the world.[7]

By 1790, Hamilton started building a nationwide coalition. Realizing the need for vocal political support in the states, he formed connections with like-minded nationalists and used his network of treasury agents to link together friends of the government, especially merchants and bankers, in the new nation's dozen major cities. His attempts to manage politics in the national capital to get his plans through Congress, then, "brought strong" responses across the country. In the process, what began as a capital faction soon assumed status as a national faction and then, finally, as the new Federalist party."[10] The Federalist Party supported Hamilton's vision of a strong centralized government, and agreed with his proposals for a national bank and heavy government subsidies. In foreign affairs, they supported neutrality in the war between France and Great Britain.[11]

A portrait of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull, 1806

The majority of the Founding Fathers were originally Federalists. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and many others can all be considered Federalists. These Federalists felt that the Articles of Confederation had been too weak to sustain a working government and had decided that a new form of government was needed. Hamilton was made Secretary of the Treasury and when he came up with the idea of funding the debt he created a split in the original Federalist group. Madison greatly disagreed with Hamilton not just on this issue, but on many others as well and he and John J. Beckley created the Anti-Federalist faction. These men would form the Republican party under Thomas Jefferson.[12]

By the early 1790s, newspapers started calling Hamilton supporters "Federalists" and their opponents "Democrats," "Republicans", "Jeffersonians" or—much later—"Democratic-Republicans". Jefferson's supporters usually called themselves "Republicans" and their party the "Republican Party".[13] The Federalist Party became popular with businessmen and New Englanders as Republicans were mostly farmers who opposed a strong central government. Cities were usually Federalist strongholds whereas frontier regions were heavily Republican. However, these are generalizations as there are special cases: the Presbyterians of upland North Carolina, who had immigrated just before the Revolution and often been Tories, became Federalists.[14] The Congregationalists of New England and the Episcopalians in the larger cities supported the Federalists while other minority denominations tended toward the Republican camp. Catholics in Maryland were generally Federalists.[15]

The state networks of both parties began to operate in 1794 or 1795. Patronage now became a factor. The winner-takes-all election system opened a wide gap between winners, who got all the patronage; and losers, who got none. Hamilton had many lucrative Treasury jobs to dispense—there were 1,700 of them by 1801.[16] Jefferson had one part-time job in the State Department, which he gave to journalist Philip Freneau to attack the Federalists. In New York, George Clinton won the election for governor and used the vast state patronage fund to help the Republican cause.

Washington tried and failed to moderate the feud between his two top cabinet members.[17] He was re-elected without opposition in 1792. The Democratic-Republicans nominated New York's Governor Clinton to replace Federalist John Adams as Vice President, but Adams won. The balance of power in Congress was close, with some members still undecided between the parties. In early 1793, Jefferson secretly prepared resolutions introduced by William Branch Giles, Congressman from Virginia, designed to repudiate Hamilton and weaken the Washington Administration.[18] Hamilton defended his administration of the nation's complicated financial affairs, which none of his critics could decipher until the arrival in Congress of the Republican Albert Gallatin in 1793.

Federalists counterattacked by claiming the Hamiltonian program had restored national prosperity as shown in one 1792 anonymous newspaper essay:[19]

To what physical, moral, or political energy shall this flourishing state of things be ascribed? There is but one answer to these inquiries: Public credit is restored and established. The general government, by uniting and calling into action the pecuniary resources of the states, has created a new capital stock of several millions of dollars, which, with that before existing, is directed into every branch of business, giving life and vigor to industry in its infinitely diversified operation. The enemies of the general government, the funding act and the National Bank may bellow tyranny, aristocracy, and speculators through the Union and repeat the clamorous din as long as they please; but the actual state of agriculture and commerce, the peace, the contentment and satisfaction of the great mass of people, give the lie to their assertions.

Jefferson wrote on February 12, 1798:

Two political Sects have arisen within the U. S. the one believing that the executive is the branch of our government which the most needs support; the other that like the analogous branch in the English Government, it is already too strong for the republican parts of the Constitution; and therefore in equivocal cases they incline to the legislative powers: the former of these are called federalists, sometimes aristocrats or monocrats, and sometimes tories, after the corresponding sect in the English Government of exactly the same definition: the latter are stiled republicans, whigs, jacobins, anarchists, disorganizers, etc. these terms are in familiar use with most persons."[20]

Religious dimension

In New England, the Federalist party was closely linked to the Congregational church. When the party collapsed, the church was disestablished.[21] In 1800 and other elections, the Federalists targeted infidelity in any form. They repeatedly charged that Republican candidates, especially Jefferson, were atheistic or nonreligious. Conversely, the Baptists, Methodists and other dissenters as well as the religiously nonaligned favored the Republican cause.[22] Jefferson told the Baptists of Connecticut there should be a "wall of separation" between church and state.[23][24]

Other Languages
한국어: 연방당
Bahasa Indonesia: Partai Federalis
lumbaart: Federalista
日本語: 連邦党
Simple English: Federalist Party
中文: 聯邦黨