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will of the electors must control the legislature and the executive was not yet accepted. Nevertheless, the possibility of democratic government was known and feared, and in framing our federal Constitution, the members of the Convention, as we have seen, had constantly in mind plans to break the force of majority rule.
The Fathers not only sought to check the growth of party control by structural devices in the government. After the new system had gone into effect, they found themselves in the possession of the offices, and they naturally deprecated opposition, which they attributed to "the factional spirit of party." Washington, in his farewell address, strongly admonished his countrymen against cherishing this partisan feeling. “There is an opinion,” he said, “that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty. This, within certain limits, is probably true, and in governments of a monarchical class patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, on the spirit of party. But in those of a popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged.”
At its very inauguration, the new federal government passed largely into the hands of that powerful and conservative group of men who had been most instrumental in framing or ratifying the Constitution. Washington, the president of the Philadelphia convention, became the first President of the United States; Ellsworth, W. S. Johnson, Langdon, Paterson, Robert Morris, Bassett, and Read were among the Senators in the new Congress; Madison, Gilman, Roger Sherman, Carroll, and Elbridge Gerry were in the House of Representatives. Hamilton, who had perhaps done more than any other man to bring about the establishment of the new system, was given the important post of Secretary of the Treasury; Randolph from Virginia was made Attorney-General; John Jay of New York, John Rutledge of South Carolina, William Cushing of Massachusetts, Robert H. Harrison of Maryland, James Wilson of Pennsylvania, and John Blair of Virginia, constituted the first Supreme Court.
The new government was not in operation very long before its policies began to arouse antagonism. Under the direction of Hamilton, the administration took firm and decided measures toward establishing the credit of the United States on a sound
basis. They made provision for the payment of every penny of the national debt and the accrued interest at full value, and, in spite of great opposition, they assumed the Revolutionary obligations incurred by the states. To carry out this policy, they established a United States Bank, notwithstanding the constitutional objections urged against it by Jefferson and his friends. It was Hamilton's avowed policy to gain for the new government the support of the capitalists by linking their interests with its fate.
While providing revenues they frankly used the taxing power, at the very beginning, to protect American manufacturers against European competition. When the customs duties failed to bring in sufficient returns, it became necessary to impose some other form of taxes. By the act of 1791 Congress laid certain duties upon spirits, which stirred the distillers to rebellion; in 1794 a tax was laid on carriages, auction sales, and certain manufactures; and in 1798 a direct tax was laid on dwelling-houses and lots and on slaves between the ages of twelve and twenty. Moreover, the expenditures of the new government rose rapidly, with some fluctuations, from $3,097,000 in 1791 to $7,309,000 in 1795 and to $9,295,000 in 1799.?
These measures speedily aroused large and important classes to opposition. Agriculturists and persons with no commercial or financial interests and no government bonds were greatly excited over what appeared to them to be the transference of the government into the hands of powerful commercial and financial groups. They wanted the federal government to be as inexpensive as possible, and, therefore, they wished to restrain its operation within the narrowest limits under a strict interpretation of the Constitution. They wanted to buy their manufactured commodities as cheaply as possible from the more advanced European states where they could find also a profitable market for their own raw products. Finally, the direct taxes and the excise on whiskey were sharply resented by the taxpayers, and, as every one knows, the liquor duty brought about a brief armed opposition known as the “Whiskey Rebellion." Thus the policy of the new administration called forth a sharp antagonism based on economic interests.
See Readings, pp. 62 and 237.
The foreign policy of the new government added to the irritation started by the domestic policy. In the very spring in which Washington was inaugurated with such an acclaim in Wall Street, the Estates General met at Versailles and began the first scene in the great drama of the French Revolution; in 1791 a new constitution was put into effect and the power of the king was practically destroyed; the next year the first French republic was established; and in 1793 Louis XVI was executed, and war was declared on England. These events were watched with deep interest by American citizens. In the beginning, the effort of the French people to establish constitutional government was almost universally approved in the United States; but as the disorders of the revolution followed in rapid succession, conservative Americans began to draw back in horror.
The more radical elements of the population, however, fresh from their own triumph over George III, recalled with satisfaction the execution of Charles I by their own ancestors, and took advantage of the occasion to rejoice in the death of another ruler - the French monarch. The climax came in 1793, when France called on the United States to fulfil the terms of the treaty of 1778, in return for the assistance which had been given to the Revolutionists in their struggle with England. The radicals wanted to aid France, either openly or secretly, in her war on England, but Washington and his conservative supporters refused to be drawn into the European controversy. Thus the Americans were divided into contending groups. Burke's Reflections on the French Revolution and Paine's memorable reply, The Rights of Man, were read and debated with extraordinary interest and zeal.
Thus a long chain of circumstances led to the formation of two parties: the Federalists, and the opposition known in the beginning as the Anti-Federalists, but later as the Republicans or Democrats, the two terms being used synonymously and sometimes joined together. The Federalists were deeply angered by this antagonism to what they regarded as their patriotic efforts in behalf of the nation. Chief Justice Ellsworth, in a charge to a grand jury in Massachusetts, denounced "the French system mongers from the quintumvirate at Paris to the Vice-President (Jefferson), and the minority in Congress as the apostles of atheism, anarchy, bloodshed, and plunder.” Hamil
ton, Jay, and John Adams, realizing the seriousness of the oppo sition, began to organize their followers for political warfare; and in the second presidential election a real campaign was waged. It is true, Washington was unanimously reëlected, although not without criticism; but Adams, the Federalist candidate for Vice-President, secured only 77 of the 132 electoral votes, the other 55 going to the Anti-Federalist candidates. In the third presidential election the party alignment was complete. Jefferson, the leader of the Anti-Federalists, was roundly denounced as an atheist and leveller, while Adams, the Federalist candidate, was characterized by his opponents as “the monarchist.” 1
So sharply drawn was the contest that Adams was chosen by the narrow plurality of only three electoral votes.
During Adams' administration a series of events thoroughly discredited the Federalist party. Adams was for a time popular, principally on account of his early attitude toward France for the mistreatment of our representatives, but that popularity was short-lived. The Republican newspapers heaped the most indiscriminate abuse upon the head of the President and the Federalists generally, and as a result Congress pushed through the Alien and Sedition Acts the first authorizing the President to expel certain aliens who might be deemed dangerous to the safety and peace of the country, and the second making the publication of libels on Congress or the President a crime.
Under the Sedition Act many of the Anti-Federalists were sharply punished for what would seem to us trivial criticisms of the administration. For example, Callender, a friend of Jefferson, was convicted for saying, among other things, “Mr. Adams has only completed the scene of ignominy which Mr. Washington began.” The Sedition Act, especially, seemed to be in flat contradiction to those amendments to the federal Constitution securing freedom of press and speech against federal interference, and undoubtedly it was unconstitutional. These laws called forth the famous Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, and convinced even those moderately inclined towards democracy that Federalism meant an unwarranted extension of the powers of the federal government and perhaps the establish
* For Jefferson's view of the difference between the Federalists and AntiFederalists, see Readings, p. 92.
ment of party tyranny. At all events, these laws marked the death knell of the Federalist party.
It is true that Adams, the Federalist candidate for the presidency in the election of 1800, made a respectable showing -polling 65 electoral votes against the 73 received by Jefferson; but in the next election the Federalists were completely humiliated, their candidate, Pinckney, receiving only 14 out of the 176 electoral votes. Even Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the strongholds of Federalism, went heavily for Jefferson. The Federalists, however, made a feint at resistance until 1816, in which year their candidate, Rufus King, received 34 out of 217 electoral votes; but after that presidential election they disappeared altogether as a national party.
It would be a mistake to suppose, nevertheless, that the triumph of the Jeffersonians meant an entire repudiation of the principles of the Federalists. Indeed, quite the contrary happened. In the purchase of the Louisiana territory the AntiFederalists stretched the Constitution to such an extent that Hamilton's Bank Act seemed insignificant. Furthermore, in 1816, the second United States Bank was established, and when it came to the settlement of the revenue system after the war of 1812, the leaders of the Democratic Republican party finally adopted a sweeping protective tariff on the broadest possible nationalist basis. Thus it may be said that, while the Anti-Federalists ruined the opposing party, they were compelled to adopt its more fundamental principles.?
The Rise of Western Democracy During the period from 1816 to 1828 American politics took on an aspect of personal and factional dispute. Federalist organizations had disappeared, and the Republican party seemed to embrace in its ranks the entire electorate. Political feeling, however, ran high, but the leaders were unable to group the electors into two great contending parties. They searched about for principles upon which to reorganize the political fragments, but they were unable to agree upon any set of doctrines that would produce the desired effect.? Meanwhile there were going on certain fundamental economic Burgess, The Middle Period, pp. 1 ff. Shepard, Van Buren, p. 92.