Why Did Political Parties Develop in the United States After 1789?

States Partisan Politics in the newly formed United States of America was being established before the stipulated time governing this essay suggests. From as early as the Articles of Confederation and by the time of Ratification, Partisan politics was well on its way to play an integral role in the United States political life. It was tried to be avoided as dual-parties were thought to be a weakness in a Nation, however this was unavoidable.

The rise of factionalism is often paralleled to the fiscal policies of the 1st Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton in modern day analysis is considered to be a man of great foresight, this being illustrated in the three Reports he submitted to Congress. However, these Reports guided America to theirs. The 1st of Hamilton’s Reports was that on the state of Public Credit. In this report he suggested Government assumption of Domestic Debt. This was to be liquidated by taxation, which agitated many.

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However, the most controversialrecommendation in this Report was to allow Government creditors to exchange their securities, which were depreciated at face value, for the newly implemented interest gaining bonds. James Madison, who will be associated with the rising opposing faction, was the voice of the opposition. Representing his interests and those of his fellow Southerners, rejected assumption, justifying this by asserting that many States had nearly finished paying their Revolutionary debts and that some like Virginia had in fact paid their entire debt. Thus, it would not be fair for those States to be taxed for the debts of others.

Furthermore, Madison contends, with reference to the Bonds, that they will be of no benefit to Southerners as several men with Northern interests Merchants, Speculators, Businessmen, had postulated Hamilton’s intentions and had bought the ‘securities’ at face value and at prices which Nash quotes Madison describes as “a fraction of the initial worth.” Thus, the exercise would be of no benefit to the It is therefore easy to notice factional differences in relation to regional differences.

The South was already worried about the survival of their institution of slavery, as from the onset of the creation of the National Government already what they viewed as Northern interests were being advocated in Congress, they and their were not then as eagerly represented in Congress as they would have liked to be.

Hamilton’s fiscal insight or what Norton described as ‘matters of policy’, is further illustrated in his proposal for the creation of a National Bank. This bank would assist in the creation of one identifiable and controllable currency, it could lend the Government money, collect and disburse money for the Treasury. This Report faced opposition not on policy as the 1st Report but on the constitutionality of such a move by Government.

The opposition was represented by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, who both ignored the benefits of such an institution and simply questioned the constitutionality. One must note that at this point that the opposing faction who became the Republicans(Republican Party), held the philosophy of a ‘strict constructionalist interpretation’ of the constitution. The constitution did not give Congress the right to create a Bank. The Federalists, those who believed in a strong National Government and the ‘broad constructionalist interpretation’ of the constitution justified the Bank by use of the President’s ‘implied powers’ and Congress’ ability to collect taxes and regulate trade, which the bank would do.

The broad constructionalist view and the use of implied powers further strengthened opposition and factionalism because this ideology could be used to infringe upon the rights of the people of the United States. This meant that though the Bill of Rights was requested their Rights could be overturned by use of some other clause in the constitution. The people feared this. A definite rift by this time was beginning to show in Congress.

The final Report submitted by Hamilton which deepened the rift of differences which were growing in the United States was that on the Manufacturers. Hamilton’s aim in this Report was to promote the growth of ‘infant industries’ which in turn would encourage self reliance and discontinue the large scale importation of European manufactured goods and supporting European economies with American dollars. Hamilton also urges the immigration of artisans.

However, there was the difference in opinion. Agrarianism was a philosophy of the ‘Republican Party’ and the supporters of Jefferson. They believed that the Nation was to be a society of farmers, run by small farmers for small farmers. Hamilton’s Programme then aimed at industrialization and had no gains for the Southern farmers only the Northerners who had interests in manufacturing; the shoemaking and the textile industry. This meant that opposition due to regional and ideological differences was escalated and partisanship inevitable.

Hamilton’s Reports were not produced until the period 1790 to 1791 and though not all these Reports were accepted, they sparked opposition in a Congress which appeared to be unified. It is from these Reports that ideological and sectional differences arose and a marked split was being made in Congress. Another Hamiltonian policy which further fueled factionalism in American Politics was the placing of an excise tax on all distilled liquors- ‘Corn Whiskey’.

Opposition to this policy was exhibited by the western farmers in what is. Historically known as the ‘Whiskey Rebellion. This rebellion is paralleled by Nash et al to the response of the Americans to the British attempts to tax them and therefore it is recognizable to many that the American was still very sensitive to the issue of Government taxation and suspicious, due to its connections with government supremacy.

This measure was not only to gain revenue but to place a ‘social cap’ to curb the heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages, in this young and developing Nation. The issue which spurned this insurrection was that distillation of corn had made it less bulky and cheaper to transport over the mountains. Due to their lack of military accompaniment during transport, they lost a lot of their produce to larceny thus unable to profit from their crops. Distillation was considered to be the answer and now this was threatened too.

Dissent came to a head in the summer of 1794, when collectors accompanied by Federal Marshals went West to encourage the payment of this Tax. The Farmers, nonetheless felt that their interests were not adequately protected or represented and saw the Tax as a ‘disproportionate’ measure for compensation. The disgruntled came together on August 1st 1794 to destroy Pittsburgh, but because of the presence of such heavy artillery they cowered and retreated. Dissent was also prevalent in Maryland and Virginia.

Opposition was then strengthened by one of the issues which was never actually agreed upon in the drafting of the Constitution. The power of the Congress to tax. Many agrarianists ‘the opposition’ did not want as strong a Government as Congress was proving to be as they believed that such a Faction would interfere with their economy and culture. Party Politics was magnifying . Though the Rebellion never became fully organised and concluded with Mahyrs of the cause, this rebellion served as a marker of the rise of the political party.

By 1794, the time of the insurrection, Norton asserts that to the measures taken by government were clearvoyant. The Opposition ‘Party’- a term used loosely here can be deemed identifiable, its leader being Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Their views, and the beliefs of their supporters, were that ‘ Hamilton and his supporters intended to impose a corrupt and aristocratic Government on the: United States’. They also argued that the federalists/Hamiltonian policies were trying to ‘subvert republican policies’. The Opposition Party – The Republican Party assumed themselves to be the true heirs to the Republic and these true heirs believed the Nations government should be via a simple and frugal government.

In addition, Jefferson, Madison and supporters believed in Agrarian Rule. Jones in her text “Limits of Liberty” asserts that America was to be a society of small farmers for small farmers. They believed that the Constitution was the literal path in which the Government should rule and not just a guide asa argued and used by the Federalist – ‘Hamiltonian’. This sparked the growth of Jeffersonian Republicanism.

According to John Miller, in his text” The Federalist Era”, Hamilton’s aim was ‘to promote the unity and National power in the United States’ not to create a rift of political differences. However, as to truthfully put in Cunninghams work “The Making of The American Party System”, the rise of the political party ‘was not solely the results of the contest between Hamilton and Jefferson! Differences on foreign policy, which was out of Hamilton’s league also gave ammunition for partisanship in the Revolutionary War in France, Citizen Edmund Gent canvassing for War support in the United Sates stirred controversy.

In turn, the Government’s decision to be Passive in this matter annoyed many Citizen’s as they considered France their ally. Surprisingly this was one issue that Hamilton and Jefferson both agreed upon. To be involved in the war would jeopardized the “United States economic health’. Nonetheless, the representative group of the supporters of the French alliance, revolution become a recognised organisation the Democratic Republican Societies. They criticised Washington’s administration because they refused to go to the aid of France. This issue created a deep rift in political identification in the wider society. Norton reiterates this point by identifying these societies as the first formally organised political dissenters in the United States.

The Constitution of the United States was created with the intention of the United States to be uni-party Republic. At no time was it thought dissent be evitable. It was the belief that move than one party would make the Republic weak and this weakness would be undermined by other countries.

Nevertheless, the growth of political differences secured the fate of a multiparty nation. Further dissent is noted in the reaction to Jay’s Treaty of 1794. The Treaty rectified Anglo-American Affairs, it assured the minimisation of British presence on the continent and their attacks on the United States neutrality rights in relation to trade with the French West Indies. The most controversial clause, stirred the ‘dormant’ Democratic Republican, was Britain’s refusal to compensate runaway slaves and the United States commitment to pay England their pre-war debts. However , ‘unrest; was quelled via Pickney’s Treaty of 1796, a Treaty established with Spain allowing the United States to navigate the Mississippi.

By 1795 then, it is safe to assess that, thanks to the information. Norton et al has provided, regional differences contributed to differences political were identifiable especially in Congress. By 1796, Hofstadter asserts, that partisan has were identifiable. Republicans were the followers of Jefferson whilst the federalists were those believed in a strong activist Government, unity of states which equated into a strong National government. The Federalists were those who believed in Hamiltonian policies.

The Republicans feared a strong ‘overbearing’ government and feared the rule by the capitalised of the North; stock jobbers, stock holders, bank directors and brokers. This was the fear of most southerners and agrarianists. It is from this background that we understand why the Republicans felt and proved themselves to be defenders of local rights and privileges. Republicans believed in a participatory government in which the people had more say on Government issues. This counteracted the federalist view of an elitest rule Government, where the highly educated, anglicanised and aristocratic gentry class, served to rule the nation.

It should be duly noted that the ‘Republican Party’ had foresight in the expansion and continuation of West ward expansion and the opportunities which this region had. These little factors by 1789 gained them support from the Non-English immigrants, promoting equality and though noting the importance of neutrality, still showed empathy for the French cause.

The empathy for the French cause was further propelled by the so called XYZ affair and the Quasi-War with France. The anti-war Republicans, did not appreciate the cause of the action. They stood firm in their opinion that France was a sister country and should not be attacked. Further divisions, deeper etched the party lines; party ties may have been jeopardized. Hostility in partisanship and the recognition of Party philosophies is highlighted in the words of Abigail Adams, who said ‘… if Jefferson had been President we should all have been sold to the French.’

The Nation then had realised its factional differences by the Election of 1796, however, Congress nor the Constitution were ready to introduce bi-partisan elections. Republican philosophy versus Federalist philosophy for the period between elections 1796 to 1800 was continual. It should be noted that the election of 1796 allowed, what one can describe as a mixed Presidency. The Federalist John Adams was the President whilst Republican Thomas Jefferson was the Vice President.

Therefore it is safe to assess that the Federalist still ruled the Government. The Federalist facing their decline in popularity due to the growth of partnership sought to destroy the creditability of their growing opponents the Republicans. It was realised and previously discussed in this essay that the Republican party derived much of its support from the English immigrants.

Therefore via theorising and advocating that the Republicans were subversive foreign agents whose support lies in immigrants, Congress – majority being Federalist passed a series of laws called the Alien and Sedition Acts. These acts allowed the deportation of many Republican supporters and was a well devised plan for federalists survival, thus lessening the growing political dissent. This act lengthened the Naturalisation period from five years to fourteen years. Therefore citizenship being the criteria vote, meant that the level of support the Republicans experienced was either stagnated or faced decline.

The Republicans counteracted via the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of 1798. These resolutions were to nullify these Acts in these states via the power of the State Legislature. This is easily interpreted as the republican philosophy of State rule rather than National. The factors that have argued give us the answer to why did political panties develop after 1789 in the United States. However, the date must be put into prospective until the issues.

It is often averted that partisanship was caused by Hamiltonian measures, this is only partially true. Hamiltonian policies rekindled differences that were evident from the 1787 Ratification debates. Many of those present and those who it affected did not want to relinquish state rights, nor did they believe that a Government should be given the right to tax, an issue which had propelled them to cut their colonial ties. Thus anytime after Hamilton’s reports can be discussed as time frame for party development.

It should be noted also that for parties to develop their beliefs and their philosophies must be established and it wasn’t until repetitive controversial issues that a philosophy or belief could be identified and utilised. Even when the philosophy was ‘declared’ to gain support they needed to be exposed to the wider public.

This was established via the use of the ‘print’ media via allyists propaganda Newspapers and or the Pamphlets and public meetings. Republicans views were printed in the National Gazette edited by Freneau whilst in the Fenno edited United States Gazette, Hamiltonian Federalist philosophies were printed. Each justifying their beliefs. Each party position was precisely printed and the public could side with whose philosophy they felt comfortable. Each party thus becoming stronger by support and number and differences clearly observable. The circulation of such matter was nit done until 1791. Once again the view that development of the party did not occur until after 1789 is understood.

In addition by 1789, the path the present government was going from 1787 would have been clearly marked and thus opposition could have been definitely established with sufficient evidence of their actions, to criticise.

In closing, it is fair to assert that the constitution and the constitutionality of the moves made by government were the main cause of the rise of the political party. The constitution always faced opposition, by 1789 it was still relatively new and thus how it would operate was yet to be established thus in the final decade of the 1700’s was the initial start of conflictial ideologies and thus the feared split nation was given birth.


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Why Did Political Parties Develop in the United States After 1789?. (2019, May 01). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/why-did-party-politcs-develop-after-1789-in-the-un/