6 Sep 2022


1790's Federalist Miscalculations: the Cause of the American Civil War

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Studies have shown that the emergence of the political parties throughout the 1790s was basically as a result of the formation of the groups that held onto opposing views related to the government structure including the Republicans and Federalists (Goldfield et al., 2001). By the end of the first term of Washington, there emerged divisions among the Americans. The Federalist seemed to support the loose interpretation of the Constitution and a central government while the Republicans supported the opposite view hence forming the first ever political parties (Goldfield et al., 2001). There were the Federalists who were believed to be actively supporting the views of Alexander Hamilton. Arguably, the Federalists were comprised of people from the privileged segments of the society and further, they held onto the belief that they ought to govern over the people through forcing them to follow their established policies strictly. 

On the other hand, there were the Republicans who were comprised of the Southern planters and backcountry Scot-Irish farmers (Goldfield et al., 2001). Madison and Jefferson strongly supported the Republicans. Prior to the ratification of the Constitution in the year 1788, there emerged debates related to ways in which the Constitution ought to be interpreted and applied. Therefore, the two groups with the different point of view became the first ever political parties by the time the Constitution became ratified. 

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Further, studies have pointed out that the official birth of the modern day political parties was related to the Feud that emerged between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson around the years 1792. According to Goldfield et al., (2001), during this period, Hamilton had developed proposals that were aimed at funding the federal and the state debts, to develop a national bank and further to offer government aid to manufacturing. However, when he presented a proposal, it brought about intense debate and opposition. There were those who supported the proposals while the other groups were not in support of them. For instance, James Madison considered the proposal developed by Hamilton as one of the greatest threat to his ideal American vision, therefore, together with Thomas Jefferson came out openly to criticize Hamilton's plan. As the response to the newspaper that was written by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson criticizing his proposal, Hamilton established his newspaper and was referred to as the Gazette of the United States. One of the mistakes, in this case, was the failure of Hamilton to publish his proposal before the Republicans began criticizing it in the newspaper (Goldfield et al., 2001). 

Based on this analysis, it is clear that the political parties during this period emerged from the individuals who supported each plan. At one hand, the supporters of the Hamilton proposals established the Federalists Party while on the contrary; the opponents of the proposals formed the Republican Party which was further referred to as Democratic Republican Party or Jeffersonian Party (Goldfield et al., 2001). The two political parties are highly relevant and active in the contemporary America and have continued to impact the history of the US. 

Arguably, it is clear that the mistake that the Federalists did was related to the French Revolution. Throughout Washington’s second term in power, the French Revolution had become highly violent and radical that it threatened the US economy. It is true that the Federalists did not support the current new regime of France; however, the Republicans strongly supported it and went further to attack Washington’s administration for his failure to assassinate the French (Goldfield et al., 2001). The attack on Washington’s administration was a huge blow to the Federalists. Based on the notion that the Federalists greatly feared that through assassinating the French would result in massive economic problems for the US, Alexander Hamilton thus urged Washington not to engage in the assassination plan and in its place to stay neutral during the conflict. 


Goldfield, D., Abbott, C., Anderson, V. D., Argersinger, J. A. E., Argersinger, P. H., Barney, W. L., & Weir, R. M. (2001). The American Journey: A History of the United States, Volume 1. 

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