George Washington himself wanted to avoid a party system in America. Unfortunately, even when saying this he was part of the beginning of one of the first parties in United States politics. There have been many different parties surface since the beginning of the American political system. They all have different thoughts, policies, and motivations. Each party has come and gone, some have made significant contributions and others have not. The first split, and beginning of the party system, came with the differentiation between the Federalists and the Democratic Republicans. These two parties were extremely different in thought, design, and status of people involved. This paper, will deal with what these differences were, and whom each party consisted of. I will start by explaining some about who the Federalists were, then I will describe the Democratic Republicans, and finally I will summarize some of the contrasts between the two.
The Federalists were a powerful and wealthy party. Mostly lawyers, big businessmen, bankers, merchants, and professionals made up the Federalist Party. The Federalists had a lot of money and were mostly influential in New England and the North part of the United States because big business was very popular there. The Federalist Party consisted of people who were very much Anglophiles. They loved Britain and all things British. The Federalists felt that there should be a loose constructionist interpretation of the constitution. They believed that there were things implied by or simply understood by the wording of the Constitution. According to the Federalists, just because something was not specifically written in the Constitution doesn’t mean that it wasn’t covered or addressed as something that the federal government could handle. The Federalist Party also supported a strong governmental leadership. They thought that the most important branch of government was the executive branch, and that a strong leader was needed in this office of president to make the country strong. Some important Federalist Party supporters included George Washington, John Adams, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton.
There were some people who didn’t agree with everything that the Federalist Party believed. This new party was known as the Democratic Republicans. This party was made up of farmers, small businessmen, and laborers. The Democratic Republicans weren’t backed by as much money, and were considerably poorer than the Federalists. The south and west parts of the United States were most influenced by the Democratic Republicans because that is were the majority of the farming population was located. These people were not very enamored by Britain or British things and were thought of as Anglophobes. The Democratic Republicans adopted a strict constructionist view of the interpretation of the Constitution. Their party felt that if an issue wasn’t written or referred to directly in the Constitution, that the federal government had no place regulating or handling those issues. The party of Democratic Republicans wanted a strong democratic government, and therefore very much supported a strong legislature that would create laws to govern the people. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were some very influential Democratic Republicans.
As you can see, there were many differences between the Federalist and Democratic Republican Parties. One party was wealthy, the other poor. Each party had control over a particular part of the nation. They each had their own idea as to how to interpret the Constitution.
This split between parties was just the beginning of the American political party system. There have been many different parties come alive since this split and will likely be more to come in the future. It is unavoidable since people have and will always have different ideas on the best way to run the nation and the best way to govern the people.