The Origin of American Political Parties

The Origin of American Political Parties

Constitutional Crisis and Political Parties

Alexander Hamilton
(Federalists) / Thomas Jefferson
(Democratic Republicans) / Are you a Federalist or a Democratic Republican? For each issue, write with whom you agree and WHY.
  • Concentrating power in the federal government
  • This will allow the government to protect citizens, pay off debt and maintain general order
  • Sharing power with the state and local governments; limited national government
  • This will prevent an oppressive government from emerging

  • Fear of mob rule
  • The masses of people are ignorant and driven by their emotions. The cool and rational government must control them.
  • Fear of absolute power or ruler
  • Democracy will prevent a power-hungry king or group of wealthy people from taking over the government

  • Republic led by a well-educated elite
  • The elite are the most educated and respected people. They have the most to gain and lose from the government.
  • Democracy of virtuous farmers and tradespeople.
  • The common man knows the real value of hard work. They are not corrupted by power.

  • Loose interpretation of the Constitution
  • The “elastic clause” of the Constitution gives Congress the power to take actions deemed necessary and proper to do its job
  • Strict interpretation of the Constitution
  • The government only has those powers specifically given to it by the Constitution.

  • National Bank is constitutional (loose interpretation)
  • The government needs a bank to create a currency (money); and lend and borrow money.
  • National bank unconstitutional (strict interpretation)
  • Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the government can create a national bank.

  • Economy based on shipping and manufacturing
  • These are the industries of the future
  • Economy based on farming
  • This is a good and respectable way to make a living

  • Payment of national and state debts (favoring creditors)
  • This will restablish trust in the economy; people need to know our governments can pay their bills.
  • Payment of only the national debt (favoring debtors)
  • Hamilton’s plan favors the creditors; Parts of the South had already payed its debts.

  • Supporters: merchants, manufacturers, landowners, investors, lawyers and clergy
  • Supporters: the “plain people” (farmers and tradespeople)

Constitutional Crisis and Political Parties

1)Write a description of the event under the party responsible for doing it. 2)Write how the second party reacted.

3)Explain how this event was a constitutional crisis (how did it threaten the Constitution)?

Event / Federalists / Democratic Republicans / Constitutional Crisis?
Whiskey Rebellion /
  • Govt tax on whiskey
  • Whiskey makers don’t pay/rebel
  • Govt sends troops to stop the rebellion
  • Oppose: govt used too much power
  • Const. says the govt can tax
  • If people refuse, that is a challenge to the govt

National Bank /
  • Federalists create a bank because it “necessary and proper” to run the country
  • Oppose: the Const. does not say you can create a bank
  • Depending on the interpretation, this is either allowed or not allowed by the Constitution

Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions (Nullify—to cancel out) /
  • Oppose: Federalists denounce these laws; some say the military should be sent in to enforce them
  • Thomas Jefferson and James Madison design state laws that nullify (cancel) federal laws
  • Virginia and Kentucky sign laws challenging the govt. authority over them

The Election of 1800 /
  • Thomas Jefferson wins the most votes; John Adams (a federalist) almost takes 2nd place
  • Constitution says 1st in votes is President, 2nd in votes is Vice President.
  • This would force political enemies to have to work together (dysfunctional government)

Louisiana Purchase /
  • Oppose: Federalists call Jefferson a hypocrite
  • Thomas Jefferson buys a huge piece of land from the French even though the Constitution doesn’t give him that power
  • Depending on the interpretation, this either allowed or not allowed by the Constitution

Prompt: Describe at least two events that challenged the Constitution its first years of existenceand how these events deepened the division between the two main American political parties.