Domestic and Foreign Affairs in the 1790s

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In the 1790s, the United States was being shaped by both domestic and foreign affairs. The government was debating whether to be centralized or decentralized, creating the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, and dealing with territorial issues with Spain and France. However, it was more important to establish a stable government than to focus on gaining territory. In order to do so, the government needed to set up rules, establish taxes, and have a leader. The Constitution was ratified in 1791 and set the rules for the country for the next two centuries. George Washington became the first president, leading the country in a new direction while dealing with the formation of political parties. On the foreign front, there were competing interests from Britain, Spain, and France, including the XYZ affair. It was important to have a strong resistance to foreign affairs, but stabilization of the country was the most important factor in shaping American politics.

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Domestic vs. Foreign Affairs In the 1790s many new aspects contributed to the set up of the new United States of America. Domestic and foreign affairs were shaping politics drastically, the Bill of Rights and the constitution was being made, the formation of a centralized or decentralized government was being debated, and the United States was having territory issues with Spain and France. Although both foreign and domestic affairs greatly affected American politics, it was more important to set up a stable government rather than to worry about gaining territory.

In order to run an effective country, the government needs to set up rules, or the constitution, needs to have money, or taxes, and needs to have a leader, or the president. The constitution was ratified by the states in 1791, it set up the rules for the country and how the country would run for over the next two centuries. It had to appeal to all of the people, and the wealthy and the poor in order to gain the votes of the different states. In order to get money to set up a strong military and infrastructure, the government had to create taxes.

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Although taxing the people did not necessarily please them, the government knew that was the only way to afford the government they wanted to pursue. George Washington was elected president in 1789, leading the country in a new direction. For his second term though, Washington did not want to be president again, but knew that the United States government needed time to settle political party differences. During Washington’s presidency, many political parties were being formed.

Once Washington took his second term, the main ones began to strengthen, which were the Democratic-Republicans and the Federalists. Jefferson and Madison lead the Democratic-Republicans, they believed in a strong government and more power to the government. Adams and Hamilton lead the Federalist Party, they believed in state’s rights and more freedom towards the states rather than in Philadelphia. The other important consideration for the new country was foreign affairs.

Everywhere they looked, there were competing interests around them. Britain still had control over Canada, Spain had control from Florida and to the left of the Mississippi River, and France started the XYZ affair. The XYZ affair was initiated after the French foreign minister, Charles de Talleyrand, demanded a bribe from America. This caused further problems with America’s former allies, Talleyrand then, unwilling to risk a declared war with the United States, sought an end to the dispute.

In order to have a strong resistance to foreign affairs, there first needs to be a strong government running the country. Stabilization of the country much more important than foreign affairs because the United States cannot function without a strong government and the certainty that America can defend for itself against the foreign affairs. It is due to this and the need to balance state’s rights and federal direction that put domestic affairs as the most important factor in shaping American politics.

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Domestic and Foreign Affairs in the 1790s. (2017, Feb 18). Retrieved from

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