George Washington Hamilton’s financial plan given his strong background in economics from when he was in charge of a trading charter, Alexander Hamilton was a reputable economic advisor for the President. After the Revolutionary War, America had incurred a large amount of debt after borrowing from foreign nations. However, Hamilton, realizing the importance of portraying America as a creditworthy country, designed a plan to address the issue. He proposed that the federal government should assume the debts of the state governments, develop a national debt and take loans through bonds, create a national bank, impose an excise tax on whiskey, and use tariffs to promote domestic manufacturing. Most important was the debate over the legality of starting a national bank and the loose vs strict interpretation of the Constitution. Hamilton and other Federalists believed in loose interpretation. However, Washington was non-partisan so looking purely at the facts, he decided that the implementation of Hamilton’s plan would have significant positive impacts on the future of the country. I would give Washington an 85% for handling this event because although he worked with the two opposing parties to arrive at the Compromise of 1790, there still were bitter feelings between the two groups, leading to conflicts after his presidency. Outbreak of the French Revolution After America gained independence from Britain, other areas around the world blew up in democratic revolutions. Both the French and Haitian revolutions took inspiration from the American Declaration of Independence and colonial rebellion and demanded for social justice.
The French Revolution began as an attempt for reform but soon turned into a radical revolution that condemned the French aristocracy and the Catholic church – similar to the American colonists’ condemnation of the British monarchy. Although this revolution was physically far from America, it deeply affected American trade and politics, pitting Americans against each other. The nation was just starting to return to economic prosperity, but the conflict between England and France became a barrier. Both countries wanted to engage in trade with America, but they also wanted to prevent the other from accessing those same goods. In many cases American ships were stopped and their goods were confiscated. Additionally, the Royal navy impressed many American sailors into service on warships because they were running out of seamen. Amongst Americans, the Federalists supported the British because of their ties through the Treaty of Paris while the Anti-Federalists supported the French because they helped the colonies during the Revolutionary War. Washington in an attempt to promote peace and keep America out of an foreign war that could completely destroy the weak and developing nation. Therefore, I give Washington a 90% for the handling of this event. While he made decisions that were better America in the long run, the divide over the French Revolution deepend many sentiments that led to opposing political parties.
Whiskey Rebellion A part of Hamilton’s financial plan was to impose a Whiskey Tax in order to gain federal revenue to pay off debts and run the government. This also was a move to show that the power to tax and spend was the power to govern and put the federal government in an authoritative position in comparison to the poorly ordered government under the Articles of Confederation. However, Americans were sensitive to taxation and government power because of their previous experiences under the British rule with the unjust laws like the Stamp Act, Tea Act, and Sugar Act. As a result, in an uprising similar to Shay’s Rebellion where people were fighting for their economic and civil rights, the farmers in Pennsylvania started the Whiskey Rebellion, hoping to gain the attention of the government. In fear that the thoughts of rebellion would spread to other states, Washington deployed troops to suppress the protests. I would give Washington a 95% for handling this event because although it was viewed as unwarranted military action, it simply took a threat (no real violence) to disperse the protestors and the people began to realize the importance and necessity of a strong central government. Formation of Political Parties In contrast to Washington’s election by unanimous vote, two of his cabinet members, Hamilton and Jefferson, held drastically different views on several events and caused divides between the two leaders and their supporters. During the colonial era, often legislators would form temporary factions to dispute and vote for or against specific ideas. But, after the conflict was resolved, these groups would dissolve. However, the conflicts between Federalists and Anti-Federalists were generally geographical, and hinted at the formation of the earliest political parties. Washington, being non-partisan, tried to use compromise to find ways of pleasing both sides whenever possible. However, he was known to support Hamilton’s policies and ideas over Jefferson’s causing Jefferson to resign from his position. In Washington’s farewell address, he made it a point to address the importance of staying away from political parties because it could cause disunity and be detrimental to the developing nation.
I give Washington a 60% for this because he made an effort to promote and hold unity between the other influential leaders in the country, but unfortunately he was unsuccessful and the effects of the early formation of political parties showed its effect in all the elections after his presidency. Jay’s Treaty The relations between England and America were deteriorating as a result of the Royal Navy forcing American sailors to join their forces and British attempts to stop American trade with the French. While many Americans – generally Anti-Federalists who supported the French – wanted to go to war, Washington realized that America was not strong enough to take a stance in an international war against other countries that were significantly stronger than itself. He preferred peace and diplomacy rather than rash violence especially while communicating with Britain since they had just recently separated. To negotiate about controversial issues that had carried over from the Revolutionary War, Washington sent Chief Justice John Jay to London. Unfortunately, the treaty that he came back with ignored most of the important problems and instead gave the English the better deal. Many Americans were furious about the agreement but Washington signed the treaty despite general public backlash. His actions helped save America from getting entangled in a costly war with the British and helped maintain American neutrality. However this continued to create a divide amongst Americans. I would give Washington a 80% because he tried his best to do what he thought was right for the country although he went against the wishes of most of the public and had the details hidden from them for a long time. John Adams XYZ Affairs After Jay’s Treaty was passed, the relations between America and France soured because of the sudden pro-British changes.
The threat of war with France became very real and frightening. Just like how the British seized American merchant ships prior to Jay’s Treaty, French warships began interfering. In an attempt to ease tensions, Adams quietly sent 3 commissioners to Paris for negotiations. However, they were met by three French agents (under the identities X, Y, and Z) who tried to threaten the commissioners that if they didn’t give a loan to the French Government (essentially a bribe) then they would not be willing to negotiate. After hearing back from the representatives, Adams reported to Congress about the XYZ Affair leaving Americans outraged at the extent to which the French government was mistreating Americans. Rejecting the French demands led to a Quasi-War and caused a sweep of Anti-French sentiments. Adams’ decision to reveal the truth behind the the affair made people view him as a hero because he did not succumb to the French in order to preserve the peace. He continued to attempt for peace by sending new negotiators to Paris. I would give Adams an 80% for this event because he maintained the American morals in a peaceful manner. It even caused temporary agreement between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists on the misdeeds of the French government. However, the anti-foreign sentiments that arose from this event went on to inspire acts that were unfair and completely alienated foreigners. Alien and Sedition Acts Due to growing tensions with the French and active political opposition from Irish immigrants, Adams and the Federalist-dominated Congress enacted laws to reduce the influx of “aliens” or foreigners into the country by passing the Naturalization Act that raised the residence requirement for obtaining citizenship and the Alien Act that allowed the president to deport any alien he believed was dangerous to the national security.
They also passed the Sedition Act that made it a punishable offence for anyone to conspire against the government, its laws, and what it stood for. This sudden establishment of power for the federal government was both stunning and scary as it threatened to destroy any political opposition and gave the government excessive powers that included removing people from the country. It was also a move to restrict the power of the Democratic-Republicans who were a minority in the federal government at that time. While it is understandable that the country had to be wary of aliens and immigrants, I believe that these measures were extreme. As a result, I would give Adams a 40% for this. His final goal of protecting America was valid and successfully achieved. However, the way he got there was not just and granted unnecessary powers to the executive branch of the government. Thomas Jefferson Louisiana Purchase During the colonial period, North America was shared between three European powers – England, Spain and France. The French and Indian War led the French to give their territories in the northern part of the continent (now Canada) to the British. However the Spanish still owned land in the Americas near the port of New Orleans. In 1800, the French military forced Spain to give them the Louisiana territory since Napoleon wanted to restore the French power in the Americas. But fights with the British and the rebellion in Santo Domingo moved French resources and attention elsewhere leading them to abandon their plans. Meanwhile, Americans under Jefferson’s presidency were looking to the western frontier for economic help through the transportation of goods down the Mississippi river to the port of New Orleans.
In 1802, the Spanish who were still in control of the New Orleans port close it to Americans dramatically affecting the trading capacity of the nation. In fear of getting entangled with European affairs, Jefferson negotiated to get the Louisiana territory out of foreign control. The French, in search of funds for their war against the British, sold the entire territory to America. This large expansion doubled the size of the nation and gave room for more agrarian development and trade.I would give Jefferson a 100% for this event because he took peaceful measures to protect the economy and security of the country and it helped America without any negative side effects. Lewis and Clark Expedition After the French and Indian war the British created the Proclamation of 1763 that prohibited the colonists from expanding into the frontier and new lands they had just acquired. After gaining independence, this rule no longer existed. As a result, it came time to explore the region. Jefferson, after convincing Congress to fund the idea, sent Lewis and Clark on an expedition that was intended to be a scientific exploration of the trans-Mississippi West. While the push for funding this occured before the Louisiana Purchase, when it finally was put into action, the Louisiana Purchase was happening simultaneously thereby increasing the importance of the mission. Overall the expedition benefited the country as it helped us gain a better geographical and scientific understanding of the land, it led to better relations with the Native Americans, and provided routes for fur trappers and future settlers.
I would give Jefferson a 100% for this event because he thought ahead about the future of the country and helped develop resources that would go on to help the social and economical future of America. Marbury vs Madison and Judicial Impeachments Although the Democratic-Republicans were victorious during the Election of 1800 by, there still was strong Federalist power in the Judicial branch. After being appointed as President, Jefferson tried to interfere with the Federalist judges who were appointed by Federalist President John Adams. Jefferson ordered James Madison to not deliver commission to the Federalist judges, leading Judge Marbury to sue. While Marbury did not get appointed, leading to a small Federalist loss, it set a precedent for future judicial review, giving the Supreme Court power to overrule actions of the other branches of federal government. Jefferson also tried to remove other Federalist measures and appointments to form an entirely Democratic-Republican government. I would give Jefferson a 50% for this because although he removed the measures of the Alien and Sedition Acts which were truly unjust, he was sneaky and took measures to ensure the political safety and continuity of his party. Embargo Act Trade between America and Britain was very important and lasted even while the British were at war with the French since statements of neutrality allowed countries to continue trade with nations at war. However, in response to the British firing on American warships and seizing merchant ships, Jefferson imposed the Embargo Act which prohibited American merchant ships from sailing to any foreign ports.
However, this actually had more of a negative effect on America that Britain because the British substituted US goods by importing from South America. Instead, fisherman and ship builders in New England as well as other industrialists fell into an economic depression. Soon there was a movement for the New England states to secede from the Nation. I would give Jefferson a 75% for this event because he did not properly consider the effects this would have on the rest of the nation – specifically the North – and its effects were crippling to the recently prosperous economy. However, after realizing his mistake he repealed the act, but US ships still couldn’t trade with Britain and France. Reaction to Aaron Burr Aaron Burr was Jefferson’s Vice President during his first term, however, the caucus of Democratic-Republicans decided not to nominate him for Jefferson’s second term. This was because Burr was creating a faction that was in opposition of his own party and was abandoning the Democratic-Republican principles. Burr attempted to form a political pact with radical New England Federalists who wanted to secede from the nation, however Hamilton and other Federalists opposed this and struck down the conspiracy. As a result, Burr insulted by Hamilton challenged him to a duel and killed Hamilton with a gunshot. Burr later planned to take Mexico from Spain and combine it with the newly gained Louisiana Territory and unite it under his rule. Jefferson hearing Burr’s actions arrested him and put him on trial for treason.
I would give Jefferson a 90% for handling this event because he took strong measures to protect the unity of the nation especially when it was being attacked by someone within the country. Foreign Relations – Barbary Pirates and Leopard Affair As a general policy, Jefferson avoided permanent foreign alliances, following Washington’s advice in his farewell address. However, the first attacks they faced were not from European powers. Rather, they were Barbary pirates from North Africa who seized American merchant ships. While this issue existed during Washington and Adams’ presidencies, they agreed to pay the Barbary governments rather than address the issue. Later, the ruler demanded a higher tribute from Jefferson who refused to pay. Instead, he sent US Navy ships to fight. While the US was not entirely victorious, it gained respect and protection for trade in the Mediterranean area. On the other hand, after the British warship Leopard fired on a US warship, in contrary to American anger for war, Jefferson resorted to peace and diplomacy to prevent war with Britain. I give Jefferson a 90% for handling these events because he properly gauged the situation and who they would be fighting against before deciding whether to use peace or violence.