Free The Federalist Party And Their Role In The Government Essay Sample
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: United States, Politics, Party, Government, Federalist, Banking, Federalist Party, Hamilton
The Federalist Party is considered today as one of first two political parties in the United States, the other one being the Republican-Democrat Party. It was as its height of influence in the nascent United States from 1789 until 1801 during the administrations of George Washington and John Adams. After Adams’s presidency, the party went on a steep decline. Its members were primarily rich and influential businessmen who owned substantial holdings during that time. In fact, the Federalists were considered aristocratic and supported a powerful executive and advocated towards an expanded economy. The Federalists favored an energetic central government, public debt, veneration of national institutions, and in general, federal support for manufacturing, commercial navigation, and internal improvements (Rodriguez, 106). The party also criticized the middle classes who advocated universal suffrage and open elections. While the Federalist Party no longer have substantial clout in today’s policymaking, historically, the policies its members have fought and laid still continue to serve as the framework for the present day United States.
The word federalist is popularly associated with the historic Federalist Papers, government documents written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, in 1787. These were considered as the single most important interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. The paper advocated for strong union and the need for a Constitution. Among the most renowned Federalists were George Washington and John Adams, the first two presidents, and John Marshall, the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (Sabato, 151).
The federalist policies during Washington’s presidency were somewhat controversial during that period. His secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, introduced such measures as the establishment of a national bank, which faced opposition from Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton (82) wanted the Congress to charter a national bank, which would sell some of its stocks to individuals because he found it good for investors in the bank. Jefferson (77) countered Hamilton, arguing that a national bank is not necessary, so it is against the Constitution as Jefferson claimed it would only benefit commercial classes and not the farmers that Jefferson so favored. Hamilton expressed that a national bank was necessary to stabilize and improve the nation's credit, and to improve handling of the financial business of the United States government under the newly enacted constitution. Congress eventually granted the bank a 20-year charter but protracted debate over the constitutionality of the Bank and pro- and anti-bank factions led to the effort in the effort to renew the bank's charter in 1811. The charter renewal effort was defeated because of the restraints the Bank put on state chartered private banks in an attempt to check inflation and on the belief that central bank is against the principle of sovereignty (Holdstedt, 6).
The division of the Federalist Party became obvious in 1794, after John Jay signed the treaty with Great Britain. The split gave way for the Federalist Party under Hamilton and the Democratic-Republican Party under Jefferson.
The Federalist Party espoused causes such giving more power to the executive and judiciary. Also the Federalists held on their belief that only the elite should run the administration, as the Federalists believed they were the only group capable of running the economy and foster development. This, the party believed, is possible because the elite have the financial resources to involve in liberal trade policies and it is the government’s role to implement policies that would address the needs of large merchants and landowners. The Federalists believed that the government should address economic development first, rather than focus on granting universal suffrage. For its foreign policy, the Federalist Party were known for their pro-British stand, as opposed to the pro-French terms of the Democratic republicans.
After Washington stepped down from the presidency, John Adams succeeded and attempted to stick to Washington's policies and retain the latter’s cabinet officials. However, Adam’s unpopular foreign and domestic policies particularly the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798) triggered internal conflict among the Federalists.
The act provides that "no alien shall be admitted to become a citizen of the United States, or of any state, unless in the manner prescribed by the act” (United States, 139). Furthermore, the Alien Enemies Acts (1798) provides that anyone -- all natives, citizens, denizens, or subjects-- from a country hostile to United States "shall be liable to be apprehended, restrained, secured and removed, as alien enemies." (United States, 142)
The Jeffersonian republicans were quick to react to the Seditions Act, issuing the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1789, which criticized the government and argued that the "several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that by compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States." (United States, 139)
The doctrine of nullification argued that a state could suspend within its boundaries the effectivity or implementation of a federal law which the state deemed as illegal (Holdstedt, 6). This act would have an adverse effect to the authority of the Federal Party and would be influential to its defeat in the 1800 election. The acts expired before the Supreme Court could hear the challenge.
The internal conflict with the Federalist Party eventually cost Adam’s the presidency and the victory of Democratic Republican Thomas Jefferson in 1800. No other Federalist after Adams served as president. This also culminated the decline and virtual end of the Federalist Party. In 1803, the party criticized Jefferson for the famous Louisiana Purchase, breaking away from its long-held principle of a strong executive. The end of the Federalist Party came not only with its stand on the Louisiana Purchase but for its isolation from government affairs and with the untimely death of Hamilton, no strong leader emerged to keep the party intact.
While the Federalist Party no longer have the clout to make a sway in government policies, it cannot be denied that at the height of its power, its leaders and members were responsible for leading the United States to freedom and economic development. It was through Washington and Adams that the principles of banking and commerce were founded, which paved the way for the country’s present day financial system. The party’s foreign policies of open trade allowed the then-young country to compete and trade with large foreign markets, which helped a lot to see American businesses prosper and expand.
Hamilton, Alexander. Hamilton’s Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, in Select Documents Illustrative of the History of the United States, Documents Nos. 10-11, edited by William MacDonald. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1905.
Holdstedt, Melissa V. Federalism: History and Current Issues. New York: Nova Publishers, 2006.
Jefferson, Thomas. Jefferson’s Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, in Select Documents Illustrative of the History of the United States, Documents Nos. 10-11, edited by William MacDonald. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1905.
Kentucky Legislature. Kentucky Resolutions, Select Documents Illustrative of the History of the United States, Documents Nos. 21-22, edited by William MacDonald. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1905.
Rodriguez, Junius P. The Louisiana Purchase: A Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, Ca: ABC-CLIO, 2002.
Sabato, Larry J. and Howard Ernst. Encyclopedia of American Political Parties and Elections. New York: Facts on File, 2007.
United States. Alien Enemies Act, in Select Documents Illustrative of the History of the United States, Documents Nos. 17-20, edited by William MacDonald. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1905.
United States. Naturalization Act. Select Documents Illustrative of the History of the United States, Documents Nos. 17-20, edited by William MacDonald. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1905.