Federalist Party | Wikipedia audio article
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Federalist Party | Wikipedia audio article


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. They
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.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.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.==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.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 “brought strong” responses across the country. In the
process, what began as a capital faction soon assumed status as a national faction and then
as the new Federalist Party. 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. 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.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”. 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 such as the Presbyterians
of upland North Carolina, who had immigrated just before the Revolution and often been
Tories, became Federalists. 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.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. 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. 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. 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: 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.===Religious dimension===
In New England, the Federalist Party was closely linked to the Congregational church. When
the party collapsed, the church was disestablished. 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. Jefferson told
the Baptists of Connecticut there should be a “wall of separation” between church and
state.==Party strength in Congress==
Many Congressmen were very hard to classify in the first few years, but after 1796 there
was more certainty. Source: Kenneth C. Martis, The Historical
Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress, 1789–1989 (1989). The numbers
are estimates by historians. The affiliation of many Congressmen in the
earliest years is an assignment by later historians. The parties were slowly coalescing groups;
at first there were many independents. Cunningham noted that only about a quarter of the House
of Representatives up until 1794 voted with Madison as much as two-thirds of the time
and another quarter against him two-thirds of the time, leaving almost half as fairly
independent.==Effects of foreign affairs==
International affairs—the French Revolution and the subsequent war between royalist Britain
and republican France—decisively shaped American politics in 1793–1800 and threatened
to entangle the nation in wars that “mortally threatened its very existence”. The French
revolutionaries guillotined King Louis XVI in January 1793, leading the British to declare
war to restore the monarchy. The King had been decisive in helping the United States
achieve independence, but now he was dead and many of the pro-American aristocrats in
France were exiled or executed. Federalists warned that American republicans threatened
to replicate the horrors of the French Revolution and successfully mobilized most conservatives
and many clergymen. The Republicans, some of whom had been strong Francophiles, responded
with support even through the Reign of Terror, when thousands were guillotined, though it
was at this point that many began backing away from their pro-France leanings. Many
of those executed had been friends of the United States, such as the Comte D’Estaing,
whose fleet had fought alongside the Americans in the Revolution (Lafayette had already fled
into exile, and Thomas Paine went to prison in France). The Republicans denounced Hamilton,
Adams and even Washington as friends of Britain, as secret monarchists and as enemies of the
republican values. The level of rhetoric reached a fever pitch.In 1793, Paris sent a new minister,
Edmond-Charles Genêt (known as Citizen Genêt), who systematically mobilized pro-French sentiment
and encouraged Americans to support France’s war against Britain and Spain. Genêt funded
local Democratic-Republican Societies that attacked Federalists. He hoped for a favorable
new treaty and for repayment of the debts owed to France. Acting aggressively, Genêt
outfitted privateers that sailed with American crews under a French flag and attacked British
shipping. He tried to organize expeditions of Americans to invade Spanish Louisiana and
Spanish Florida. When Secretary of State Jefferson told Genêt he was pushing American friendship
past the limit, Genêt threatened to go over the government’s head and rouse public opinion
on behalf of France. Even Jefferson agreed this was blatant foreign interference in domestic
politics. Genêt’s extremism seriously embarrassed the Jeffersonians and cooled popular support
for promoting the French Revolution and getting involved in its wars. Recalled to Paris for
execution, Genêt kept his head and instead went to New York, where he became a citizen
and married the daughter of Governor Clinton. Jefferson left office, ending the coalition
cabinet and allowing the Federalists to dominate.===Jay Treaty===
The Jay Treaty battle in 1794–1795 was the effort by Washington, Hamilton and John Jay
to resolve numerous difficulties with Britain. Some of these issues dated to the Revolution,
such as boundaries, debts owed in each direction and the continued presence of British forts
in the Northwest Territory. In addition, the United States hoped to open markets in the
British Caribbean and end disputes stemming from the naval war between Britain and France.
Most of all the goal was to avert a war with Britain—a war opposed by the Federalists,
that some historians claim the Jeffersonians wanted.As a neutral party, the United States
argued it had the right to carry goods anywhere it wanted. The British nevertheless seized
American ships carrying goods from the French West Indies. The Federalists favored Britain
in the war and by far most of America’s foreign trade was with Britain, hence a new treaty
was called for. The British agreed to evacuate the western forts, open their West Indies
ports to American ships, allow small vessels to trade with the French West Indies and set
up a commission that would adjudicate American claims against Britain for seized ships and
British claims against Americans for debts incurred before 1775. One possible alternative
was war with Britain, a war that the United States was ill-prepared to fight.The Republicans
wanted to pressure Britain to the brink of war (and assumed that the United States could
defeat a weak Britain). Therefore, they denounced the Jay Treaty as an insult to American prestige,
a repudiation of the French alliance of 1777 and a severe shock to Southern planters who
owed those old debts and who were never to collect for the lost slaves the British captured.
Republicans protested against the treaty and organized their supporters. The Federalists
realized they had to mobilize their popular vote, so they mobilized their newspapers,
held rallies, counted votes and especially relied on the prestige of President Washington.
The contest over the Jay Treaty marked the first flowering of grassroots political activism
in the United States, directed and coordinated by two national parties. Politics was no longer
the domain of politicians as every voter was called on to participate. The new strategy
of appealing directly to the public worked for the Federalists as public opinion shifted
to support the Jay Treaty. The Federalists controlled the Senate and they ratified it
by exactly the necessary ⅔ vote (20–10) in 1795. However, the Republicans did not
give up and public opinion swung toward the Republicans after the Treaty fight and in
the South the Federalists lost most of the support they had among planters.==Whiskey Rebellion==
The excise tax of 1791 caused grumbling from the frontier including threats of tax resistance.
Corn, the chief crop on the frontier, was too bulky to ship over the mountains to market
unless it was first distilled into whiskey. This was profitable as the United States population
consumed per capita relatively large quantities of liquor. After the excise tax, the backwoodsmen
complained the tax fell on them rather than on the consumers. Cash poor, they were outraged
that they had been singled out to pay off the “financiers and speculators” back East
and to salary the federal revenue officers who began to swarm the hills looking for illegal
stills.Insurgents in western Pennsylvania shut the courts and hounded federal officials,
but Jeffersonian leader Albert Gallatin mobilized the western moderates and thus forestalled
a serious outbreak. Washington, seeing the need to assert federal supremacy, called out
13,000 state militia and marched toward Washington, Pennsylvania to suppress this Whiskey Rebellion.
The rebellion evaporated in late 1794 as Washington approached, personally leading the army (only
two sitting Presidents have directly led American military forces, Washington during the Whiskey
Rebellion and Madison in an attempt to save the White House during the War of 1812). The
rebels dispersed and there was no fighting. Federalists were relieved that the new government
proved capable of overcoming rebellion while Republicans, with Gallatin their new hero,
argued there never was a real rebellion and the whole episode was manipulated in order
to accustom Americans to a standing army. Angry petitions flowed in from three dozen
Democratic-Republican Societies created by Citizen Genêt. Washington attacked the societies
as illegitimate and many disbanded. Federalists now ridiculed Republicans as “democrats” (meaning
in favor of mob rule) or “Jacobins” (a reference to the Reign of Terror in France). Washington refused to run for a third term,
establishing a two-term precedent that was to stand until 1940 and eventually to be enshrined
in the Constitution as the 22nd Amendment. He warned in his Farewell Address against
involvement in European wars and lamented the rising North-South sectionalism and party
spirit in politics that threatened national unity: The party spirits serves always to
distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the
Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one
part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to
foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself
through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are
subjected to the policy and will of another. Washington never considered himself a member
of any party, but broadly supported most Federalist policies.==Newspaper editors at war==
The spoils system helped finance Federalist printers until 1801 and Republican editors
after that. Federalist Postmasters General, Timothy Pickering (1791–94) and Joseph Habersham
(1795–1801) appointed and removed local postmasters to maximize party funding. Numerous
printers were appointed as postmasters. They did not deliver the mail, but they did collect
fees from mail users and obtained free delivery of their own newspapers and business mail.To
strengthen their coalitions and hammer away constantly at the opposition, both parties
sponsored newspapers in the capital (Philadelphia) and other major cities. On the Republican
side, Philip Freneau and Benjamin Franklin Bache blasted the administration with all
the scurrility at their command. Bache in particular targeted Washington himself as
the front man for monarchy who must be exposed. To Bache, Washington was a cowardly general
and a money-hungry baron who saw the Revolution as a means to advance his fortune and fame;
Adams was a failed diplomat who never forgave the French their love of Benjamin Franklin
and who craved a crown for himself and his descendants; and Alexander Hamilton was the
most inveterate monarchist of them all.The Federalists, with twice as many newspapers
at their command, slashed back with equal vituperation. John Fenno and “Peter Porcupine”
(William Cobbett) were their nastiest penmen and Noah Webster their most learned. Hamilton
subsidized the Federalist editors, wrote for their papers and in 1801 established his own
paper, the New York Evening Post. Though his reputation waned considerably following his
death, Joseph Dennie ran three of the most popular and influential newspapers of the
period, The Farmer’s Weekly Museum, the Gazette of the United States and The Port Folio.===Ceremonies and civil religion===The Federalists were conscious of the need
to boost voter identification with their party. Elections remained of central importance,
but the rest of the political calendar was filled with celebrations, parades, festivals
and visual sensationalism. The Federalists employed multiple festivities, exciting parades
and even quasi-religious pilgrimages and “sacred” days that became incorporated into the American
civil religion. George Washington was always their hero and after his death he became viewed
as a sort of demigod looking down from heaven to bestow his blessings on the party. At first,
the Federalists focused on commemorating the ratification of the Constitution and organized
parades to demonstrate widespread popular support for the new Federalist Party. The
parade organizers incorporated secular versions of traditional religious themes and rituals,
thereby fostering a highly visible celebration of the nation’s new civil religion.The Fourth
of July became a semi-sacred day—a status it maintains in the 21st century. Its celebration
in Boston emphasized national over local patriotism and included orations, dinners, militia musters,
parades, marching bands, floats and fireworks. By 1800, the Fourth of July was closely identified
with the Federalist Party. Republicans were annoyed and staged their own celebrations
on the same day—with rival parades sometimes clashing with each other, which generated
even more excitement and larger crowds. After the collapse of the Federalists starting in
1815, the Fourth of July became a nonpartisan holiday.==Adams administration: 1797–1801==Hamilton distrusted Vice President Adams—who
felt the same way about Hamilton—but was unable to block his claims to the succession.
The election of 1796 was the first partisan affair in the nation’s history and one of
the more scurrilous in terms of newspaper attacks. Adams swept New England and Jefferson
the South, with the middle states leaning to Adams. Adams was the winner by a margin
of three electoral votes and Jefferson, as the runner-up, became Vice President under
the system set out in the Constitution prior to the ratification of the 12th Amendment.The
Federalists were strongest in New England, but also had strengths in the middle states.
They elected Adams as President in 1796, when they controlled both houses of Congress, the
presidency, eight state legislatures and ten governorships.Foreign affairs continued to
be the central concern of American politics, for the war raging in Europe threatened to
drag in the United States. The new President was a loner, who made decisions without consulting
Hamilton or other “High Federalists”. Benjamin Franklin once quipped that Adams was a man
always honest, often brilliant and sometimes mad. Adams was popular among the Federalist
rank and file, but had neglected to build state or local political bases of his own
and neglected to take control of his own cabinet. As a result, his cabinet answered more to
Hamilton than to himself. Hamilton was especially popular because he rebuilt the Army—and
had commissions to give out.===Alien and Sedition Acts===
After an American delegation was insulted in Paris in the XYZ affair (1797), public
opinion ran strongly against the French. An undeclared “Quasi-War” with France from 1798
to 1800 saw each side attacking and capturing the other’s shipping. It was called “quasi”
because there was no declaration of war, but escalation was a serious threat. At the peak
of their popularity, the Federalists took advantage by preparing for an invasion by
the French Army. To silence Administration critics, the Federalists passed the Alien
and Sedition Acts in 1798. The Alien Act empowered the President to deport such aliens as he
declared to be dangerous. The Sedition Act made it a crime to print false, scandalous
and malicious criticisms of the federal government, but it conspicuously failed to criminalize
criticism of Vice President Thomas Jefferson.Several Republican newspaper editors were convicted
under the Act and fined or jailed and three Democratic-Republican newspapers were shut
down. In response, Jefferson and Madison secretly wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions
passed by the two states’ legislatures that declared the Alien and Sedition Acts unconstitutional
and insisted the states had the power to nullify federal laws.
Undaunted, the Federalists created a navy, with new frigates; and a large new army, with
Washington in nominal command and Hamilton in actual command. To pay for it all, they
raised taxes on land, houses and slaves, leading to serious unrest. In one part of Pennsylvania,
the Fries’ Rebellion broke out, with people refusing to pay the new taxes. John Fries
was sentenced to death for treason, but received a pardon from Adams. In the elections of 1798,
the Federalists did very well, but this issue started hurting the Federalists in 1799. Early
in 1799, Adams decided to free himself from Hamilton’s overbearing influence, stunning
the country and throwing his party into disarray by announcing a new peace mission to France.
The mission eventually succeeded, the “Quasi-War” ended and the new army was largely disbanded.
Hamiltonians called Adams a failure while Adams fired Hamilton’s supporters still in
the cabinet. Hamilton and Adams intensely disliked one
another and the Federalists split between supporters of Hamilton (“High Federalists”)
and supporters of Adams. Hamilton became embittered over his loss of political influence and wrote
a scathing criticism of Adams’ performance as President in an effort to throw Federalist
support to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. Inadvertently, this split the Federalists and helped give
the victory to Jefferson.==Election of 1800==Adams’s peace moves proved popular with the
Federalist rank and file and he seemed to stand a good chance of re-election in 1800.
If the Three-Fifths Compromise had not been enacted, he most likely would have won reelection
since many Federalist legislatures removed the right to select electors from their constituents
in fear of a Democratic victory. Jefferson was again the opponent and Federalists pulled
out all stops in warning that he was a dangerous revolutionary, hostile to religion, who would
weaken the government, damage the economy and get into war with Britain. Many believed
that if Jefferson won the election, it would be the end of the newly formed United States.
The Republicans crusaded against the Alien and Sedition laws as well as the new taxes
and proved highly effective in mobilizing popular discontent.The election hinged on
New York as its electors were selected by the legislature and given the balance of North
and South, they would decide the presidential election. Aaron Burr brilliantly organized
his forces in New York City in the spring elections for the state legislature. By a
few hundred votes, he carried the city—and thus the state legislature—and guaranteed
the election of a Republican President. As a reward, he was selected by the Republican
caucus in Congress as their vice presidential candidate. Alexander Hamilton, knowing the
election was lost anyway, went public with a sharp attack on Adams that further divided
and weakened the Federalists.Members of the Republican Party planned to vote evenly for
Jefferson and Burr because they did not want for it to seem as if their party was divided.
The party took the meaning literally and Jefferson and Burr tied in the election with 73 electoral
votes. This sent the election to the House of Representatives to break the tie. The Federalists
had enough weight in the House to swing the election in either direction. Many would rather
have seen Burr in the office over Jefferson, but Hamilton, who had a strong dislike of
Burr, threw his political weight behind Jefferson. During the election, neither Jefferson nor
Burr attempted to swing the election in the House of Representatives. Jefferson remained
at Monticello to oversee the laying of bricks to a section of his home. Jefferson allowed
for his political beliefs and other ideologies to filter out through letters to his contacts.
Thanks to Hamilton’s support, Jefferson would win the election and Burr would become his
Vice President. Many Federalists held to the belief that this was the end of the United
States and that the experiment they had begun had ended in failure. This unintended complication
led directly to the proposal and ratification of the 12th Amendment. “We are all republicans—we
are all federalists”, proclaimed Jefferson in his inaugural address. This election marked
the first time power had been transferred between opposing political parties, an act
that occurred remarkably without bloodshed. Though there had been strong words and disagreements,
contrary to the Federalists fears, there was no war and no ending of one government system
to let in a new one. His patronage policy was to let the Federalists disappear through
attrition. Those Federalists such as John Quincy Adams (John Adams’ own son) and Rufus
King willing to work with him were rewarded with senior diplomatic posts, but there was
no punishment of the opposition.==Federalists in opposition==
Fisher Ames (1758–1808) of Massachusetts ranks as one of the more influential figures
of his era. Ames led Federalist ranks in the House of Representatives. His acceptance of
the Bill of Rights garnered support in Massachusetts for the new Constitution. His greatest fame
came as an orator who defined the principles of the Federalist Party and the follies of
the Republicans. Ames offered one of the first great speeches in American Congressional history
when he spoke in favor of the Jay Treaty. Ames was part of Hamilton’s faction and cautioned
against the excesses of democracy unfettered by morals and reason: “Popular reason does
not always know how to act right, nor does it always act right when it knows”. He warned
his countrymen of the dangers of flattering demagogues, who incite dis-union and lead
their country into bondage: “Our country is too big for union, too sordid for patriotism,
too democratic for liberty. What is to become of it, He who made it best knows. Its vice
will govern it, by practising upon its folly. This is ordained for democracies”.===Jefferson administration===Jefferson had a very successful first term,
typified by the Louisiana Purchase, which was ironically supported by Hamilton, but
opposed by most Federalists at the time as unconstitutional. Some Federalist leaders
(Essex Junto) began courting Jefferson’s Vice President and Hamilton’s nemesis Aaron Burr
in an attempt to swing New York into an independent confederation with the New England states,
which along with New York were supposed to secede from the United States after Burr’s
election to Governor. However, Hamilton’s influence cost Burr the governorship of New
York, a key in the Essex Junto’s plan, just as Hamilton’s influence had cost Burr the
presidency nearly four years before. Hamilton’s thwarting of Aaron Burr’s ambitions for the
second time was too much for Burr to bear. Hamilton had known of the Essex Junto (whom
Hamilton now regarded as apostate Federalists) and Burr’s plans and opposed them vehemently.
This opposition by Hamilton would lead to his fatal duel with Burr in July 1804.The
thoroughly disorganized Federalists hardly offered any opposition to Jefferson’s reelection
in 1804 and Federalists seemed doomed. Jefferson had taken away most of their patronage, including
federal judgeships. The party now controlled only five state legislatures and seven governorships.
After again losing the presidency in 1804, the party was now down to three legislatures
and five governorships (four in New England). Their majorities in Congress were long gone,
dropping in the Senate from 23 and 1796, 218 and 1800 to only six in 1804. In New England
and in some districts in the middle states, the Federalists clung to power, but the tendency
from 1800 to 1812 was steady slippage almost everywhere as the Republicans perfected their
organization and the Federalists tried to play catch-up. Some younger leaders tried
to emulate the Democratic-Republican tactics, but their overall disdain of democracy along
with the upper class bias of the party leadership eroded public support. In the South, the Federalists
steadily lost ground everywhere.The Federalists continued for several years to be a major
political party in New England and the Northeast, but never regained control of the presidency
or the Congress. With the death of Washington and Hamilton and the retirement of Adams,
the Federalists were left without a strong leader as Chief Justice John Marshall stayed
out of politics. However, a few younger leaders did appear, notably Daniel Webster. Federalist
policies favored factories, banking and trade over agriculture and therefore became unpopular
in the growing Western states. They were increasingly seen as aristocratic and unsympathetic to
democracy. In the South, the party had lingering support in Maryland, but elsewhere was crippled
by 1800 and faded away by 1808.Massachusetts and Connecticut remained the party strongholds.
Historian Richard J. Purcell explains how well organized the party was in Connecticut: It was only necessary to perfect the working
methods of the organized body of office-holders who made up the nucleus of the party. There
were the state officers, the assistants, and a large majority of the Assembly. In every
county there was a sheriff with his deputies. All of the state, county, and town judges
were potential and generally active workers. Every town had several justices of the peace,
school directors and, in Federalist towns, all the town officers who were ready to carry
on the party’s work. Every parish had a “standing agent,” whose anathemas were said to convince
at least ten voting deacons. Militia officers, state’s attorneys, lawyers, professors and
schoolteachers were in the van of this “conscript army.” In all, about a thousand or eleven
hundred dependent officer-holders were described as the inner ring which could always be depended
upon for their own and enough more votes within their control to decide an election. This
was the Federalist machine. After 1800, the major Federalist role came
in the judiciary. Although Jefferson managed to repeal the Judiciary Act of 1801 and thus
dismissed many lower level Federalist federal judges, the effort to impeach Supreme Court
Justice Samuel Chase in 1804 failed. Led by the last great Federalist, John Marshall as
Chief Justice from 1801 to 1835, the Supreme Court carved out a unique and powerful role
as the protector of the Constitution and promoter of nationalism.===Anti-war party===
As the wars in Europe intensified, the United States became increasingly involved. The Federalists
restored some of their strength by leading the anti-war opposition to Jefferson and Madison
between 1807 and 1814. President Jefferson imposed an embargo on Britain in 1807 as the
Embargo Act of 1807 prevented all American ships from sailing to a foreign port. The
idea was that the British were so dependent on American supplies that they would come
to terms. For 15 months, the Embargo wrecked American export businesses, largely based
in the Boston-New York region, causing a sharp depression in the Northeast. Evasion was common
and Jefferson and Treasury Secretary Gallatin responded with tightened police controls more
severe than anything the Federalists had ever proposed. Public opinion was highly negative
and a surge of support breathed fresh life into the Federalist Party.The Republicans
nominated Madison for the presidency in 1808. Meeting in the first-ever national convention,
Federalists considered the option of nominating Jefferson’s Vice President George Clinton
as their own candidate, but balked at working with him and again chose Charles Cotesworth
Pinckney, their 1804 candidate. Madison lost New England excluding Vermont, but swept the
rest of the country and carried a Republican Congress. Madison dropped the Embargo, opened
up trade again and offered a carrot and stick approach. If either France or Britain agreed
to stop their violations of American neutrality, the United States would cut off trade with
the other country. Tricked by Napoleon into believing France had acceded to his demands,
Madison turned his wrath on Britain and the War of 1812 began. Young Daniel Webster, running
for Congress from New Hampshire in 1812, first gained overnight fame with his anti-war speeches.===Madison administration===The nation was at war during the 1812 presidential
election and war was the burning issue. Opposition to the war was strong in traditional Federalist
strongholds in New England and New York, where the party made a comeback in the elections
of 1812 and 1814. In their second national convention in 1812, the Federalists, now the
peace party, nominated DeWitt Clinton, the dissident Republican Mayor of New York City
and an articulate opponent of the war. Madison ran for reelection promising a relentless
war against Britain and an honorable peace. Clinton, denouncing Madison’s weak leadership
and incompetent preparations for war, could count on New England and New York. To win,
he needed the middle states and there the campaign was fought out. Those states were
competitive and had the best-developed local parties and most elaborate campaign techniques,
including nominating conventions and formal party platforms. The Tammany Society in New
York City highly favored Madison and the Federalists finally adopted the club idea in 1808. Their
Washington Benevolent Societies were semi-secret membership organizations which played a critical
role in every northern state as they held meetings and rallies and mobilized Federalist
votes. New Jersey went for Clinton, but Madison carried Pennsylvania and thus was reelected
with 59% of the electoral votes. However, the Federalists gained 14 seats in Congress.==Opposition to the War of 1812==
The War of 1812 went poorly for the Americans for two years. Even though Britain was concentrating
its military efforts on its war with Napoleon, the United States still failed to make any
headway on land and was effectively blockaded at sea by the Royal Navy. The British raided
and burned Washington, D.C. in 1814 and sent a force to capture New Orleans.
The war was especially unpopular in New England. The New England economy was highly dependent
on trade and the British blockade threatened to destroy it entirely. In 1814, the British
Navy finally managed to enforce their blockade on the New England coast, so the Federalists
of New England sent delegates to the Hartford Convention in December 1814.
During the proceedings of the Hartford Convention, secession from the Union was discussed, though
the resulting report listed a set of grievances against the Democratic-Republican federal
government and proposed a set of Constitutional amendments to address these grievances. They
demanded financial assistance from Washington to compensate for lost trade and proposed
constitutional amendments requiring a two-thirds vote in Congress before an embargo could be
imposed, new states admitted, or war declared. It also indicated that if these proposals
were ignored, then another convention should be called and given “such powers and instructions
as the exigency of a crisis may require”. The Federalist Massachusetts Governor had
already secretly sent word to England to broker a separate peace accord. Three Massachusetts
“ambassadors” were sent to Washington to negotiate on the basis of this report.
By the time the Federalist “ambassadors” got to Washington, the war was over and news of
Andrew Jackson’s stunning victory in the Battle of New Orleans had raised American morale
immensely. The “ambassadors” hastened back to Massachusetts, but not before they had
done fatal damage to the Federalist Party. The Federalists were thereafter associated
with the disloyalty and parochialism of the Hartford Convention and destroyed as a political
force. Across the nation, Republicans used the great victory at New Orleans to ridicule
the Federalists as cowards, defeatists and secessionists. Pamphlets, songs, newspaper
editorials, speeches and entire plays on the Battle of New Orleans drove home the point.The
Federalists fielded their last presidential candidate (Rufus King) in 1816. With its passing
partisan hatreds and newspaper feuds declined and the nation entered the “Era of Good Feelings”.
After the dissolution of the final Federalist congressional caucus in 1825, the last traces
of Federalist activity came in Delaware and Massachusetts local politics in the late 1820s,
where in 1829 Harrison Gray Otis was elected Mayor of Boston and became the last major
Federalist office holder. As late as 1828, the party won control of the Delaware state
legislature and as late as 1830 the Federalists controlled the Massachusetts Senate.==Interpretations==
Intellectually, Federalists were profoundly devoted to liberty. As Samuel Eliot Morison
explained, they believed that liberty is inseparable from union, that men are essentially unequal,
that vox populi (“voice of the people”) is seldom if ever vox Dei (“the voice of God”)
and that sinister outside influences are busy undermining American integrity. Oxford-trained
British historian Patrick Allitt concludes that Federalists promoted many positions that
would form the baseline for later American conservatism, including the rule of law under
the Constitution, republican government, peaceful change through elections, judicial supremacy,
stable national finances, credible and active diplomacy and protection of wealth.In terms
of “classical conservatism”, the Federalists had no truck with European-style aristocracy,
monarchy, or established religion. Historian John P. Diggins says: “Thanks to the framers,
American conservatism began on a genuinely lofty plane. James Madison, Alexander Hamilton,
John Marshall, John Jay, James Wilson, and, above all, John Adams aspired to create a
republic in which the values so precious to conservatives might flourish: harmony, stability,
virtue, reverence, veneration, loyalty, self-discipline, and moderation. This was classical conservatism
in its most authentic expression”.The Federalists were dominated by businessmen and merchants
in the major cities who supported a strong national government. The party was closely
linked to the modernizing, urbanizing, financial policies of Alexander Hamilton. These policies
included the funding of the national debt and also assumption of state debts incurred
during the Revolutionary War, the incorporation of a national Bank of the United States, the
support of manufactures and industrial development, and the use of a tariff to fund the Treasury.
In foreign affairs, the Federalists opposed the French Revolution, engaged in the “Quasi
War” (an undeclared naval war) with France in 1798–99, sought good relations with Britain
and sought a strong army and navy. Ideologically, the controversy between Republicans and Federalists
stemmed from a difference of principle and style. In terms of style, the Federalists
feared mob rule, thought an educated elite should represent the general populace in national
governance and favored national power over state power. Republicans distrusted Britain,
bankers, merchants and did not want a powerful national government. The Federalists, notably
Hamilton, were distrustful of “the people”, the French and the Republicans. In the end,
the nation synthesized the two positions, adopting representative democracy and a strong
nation state. Just as importantly, American politics by the 1820s accepted the two-party
system whereby rival parties stake their claims before the electorate and the winner takes
control of majorities in state legislatures and the Congress and gains governorships and
the presidency. As time went on, the Federalists lost appeal
with the average voter and were generally not equal to the tasks of party organization;
hence they grew steadily weaker as the political triumphs of the Republican Party grew. For
economic and philosophical reasons, the Federalists tended to be pro-British—the United States
engaged in more trade with Great Britain than with any other country—and vociferously
opposed Jefferson’s Embargo Act of 1807 and the seemingly deliberate provocation of war
with Britain by the Madison Administration. During “Mr. Madison’s War”, as they called
it, the Federalists made a temporary comeback. However, they lost all their gains and more
during the patriotic euphoria that followed the war. The membership was aging rapidly,
but a few young men from New England did join the cause, most notably Daniel Webster.
After 1816, the Federalists had no national power base apart from John Marshall’s Supreme
Court. They had some local support in New England, New York, eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland
and Delaware. After the collapse of the Federalist Party in the course of the 1824 presidential
election, most surviving Federalists (including Daniel Webster) joined former Republicans
like Henry Clay to form the National Republican Party, which was soon combined with other
anti-Jackson groups to form the Whig Party in 1833. By then, nearly all remaining Federalists
joined the Whigs. However, some former Federalists like James Buchanan, Louis McLane and Roger
B. Taney became Jacksonian Democrats.The “Old Republicans”, led by John Randolph of Roanoke,
refused to form a coalition with the Federalists and instead set up a separate opposition since
Jefferson, Madison, Gallatin, Monroe, John C. Calhoun and Clay had in effect adopted
Federalist principles of implied powers to purchase the Louisiana Territory and after
the failures and lessons of the War of 1812 raised tariffs to protect factories, chartered
the Second national bank, promoted a strong army and navy and promoted internal improvements.
All these measures were opposed to the strict construction of the Constitution, which was
the formal basis of the Republicans, but the drift of the party to support them could not
be checked. It was aided by the Supreme Court, whose influence under John Marshall as a nationalizing
factor now first became apparent. The whole change reconciled the federalists to their
absorption into the Republican Party. Indeed, they claimed, with considerable show of justice,
that the absorption was in the other direction: that the Republicans had recanted and that
the “Washington-Monroe policy”, as they termed it after 1820, was all that federalists had
ever desired.The name “Federalist” came increasingly to be used in political rhetoric as a term
of abuse and was denied by the Whigs, who pointed out that their leader Henry Clay was
the Republican Party leader in Congress during the 1810s.The Federalists had a weak base
in the South, with their main base in the Northeast and especially New England. It was
the reverse for the Republicans. As a result, anti-slavery elements were largely based in
the Federalist Party. Several leading Federalists, most notably John Jay and Alexander Hamilton,
were leaders of the anti-slavery movement. They led the successful battles to abolish
the international slave trade in New York City and the battle to abolish slavery in
the state of New York.==Presidents====Electoral history=====Presidential elections======Congressional election=====See also==
Blue light federalists Democratic-Republican Party
Essex Junto Federalist Era
First Party System List of political parties in the United States
The Port Folio==
References====Bibliography====External links==
Media related to Federalist Party (United States) at Wikimedia Commons
A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1787–1825

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