In current times, the American political system is most commonly associated with the ongoing conflicts between political parties. The two major parties that strive for control of the American vote are the Democrats and the Republicans. However, when our government was formed, the political parties were quite different. At first, politicians tried to stay away from political parties, but by creating a democratic government, a political party system could not be avoided. The two recognized parties were the Democratic-Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson, and the Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton.
Political parties separated the country. Washington had tried to prevent them from rising up, but due to extreme differences in views, his attempt was futile. Hamilton’s strong central government idea contrasted with Jefferson’s strong state side government. Sides were taken, and differences were debated. Without a compromise, each party would continue to try and impose their beliefs on the American people. The Democratic-Republicans appealed more to the common man, whereas the Federalists favored wealthy aristocrats.
Financially, the Federalists were much more powerful than the Democratic-Republicans.
The wealthy merchants were voted into office originally because of their social and economic status. Prior to Jefferson’s administration, many politicians were not publicly known like today. This led to Washington and Adam’s government being controlled by the Federalists. Jefferson would win the people and presidency. Jefferson and his supporters would control the government, ensuring that America would remain a democracy.
Alexander Hamilton was Washington’s Secretary of Treasury. Over the course of Washington’s presidency, Hamilton proposed and passed some federalist bills.
These bills led to a public distrust of the Federalist Party. Therefore causing a large portion of the country to side with the Democratic-Republicans. Hamilton’s party feared the Democratic-Republicans, saying “”¦. the views of these gentlemen [Democratic-Republicans] are “¦ unsound and dangerous.” Hamilton’s lack of faith in the other party caused him to impose more Federalist bills and limit the power of the common man.
In retaliation to these new laws, many men began to express their distrust in the government through the newspapers. The Alien and Sedition Acts was the most controversial bill passed by the federalists. As stated by John Allen, a Federalist Congressman, in 1798 “”¦. Papers printed in this city and elsewhere [which print] the most shameless falsehoods against the representatives of the people”¦” The Federalists feared the common man’s power to persuade others into becoming Democratic-Republicans.
Washington’s Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, was the leader of the Democratic-Republican Party. As Jefferson wrote in a memo to himself in 1790, “”¦Hamilton was not only a monarchist, but [in support] of a monarchy”¦” Jefferson had not only publicly discredited Hamilton and the Federalist Party, but in private he also felt the same distrust. Jefferson also talked about the bills that Hamilton passed in his speeches, “The excise tax is an infernal one “¦ and has now associated to it a detestation of the government.” After Hamilton’s biggest mistake, allowing the Alien and Sedition Acts to be passed, Jefferson easily won support from the common man. Even members of the government began to support Jefferson and his beliefs.
As George Hay, a member of the Virginia State Legislature, said in 1799, “The freedom of the press “¦ means the total exemption of the press from any kind of legislative control, and consequently the Sedition Bill “¦ is an abridgement of its liberty”¦” There were many differences in political views between Hamilton and Jefferson; this led to the formation of the political parties, and Hamilton’s poor choice of governing led to the popularity and the distinction of the two parties. Even though Washington attempted to forewarn us about the dangers of political parties, compromises could not be met, and therefore differences in beliefs will become actions; as demonstrated in the history of America’s government.