Federalists

The Most Sublime Gift of Heaven

In the early 1800s, America underwent a campaign of infrastructure building. The building of new roads, bridges, and canals were done in a spirit of “national grandeur and individual convenience.” Gordon Wood, Empire of Liberty, 730 quoting Charles G. Haines, Considerations on the Great Western Canal (Brooklyn, 1818), 11. In 1806, Samuel Blodgett, an economist and architect, concluded […]

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Gearing up for the War of 1812

In large part, the War of 1812 was brought about by necessity but also by politics. In terms of necessity, the British were executing a policy of impressment where the British would inspect American ships for contraband or material support for the French. America’s foreign policy adopted in reaction to these events was to create […]

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Shift to Idealism

The early Republic years were filled with hope and optimism for what the new country could achieve. The Republicans, through the 1790s and into the first decade of the 1800s, had a new idea about what government should be and how it should fit into the citizens’ lives. Republicans imagined “that people’s natural sociability and […]

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How Small is Too Big?

When Thomas Jefferson and the Republicans came to power in 1800, they had a major priority: reverse the Federalist trend of expanding the federal government. In Thomas Jefferson’s first message to Congress, in 1801, Jefferson framed the role of the federal government as only being “charged with the external and mutual relations only of these states.” […]

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The “Plebiscitarian Principle”

The president’s role in the government in the early Republic was different than today, and sometimes, it was unclear exactly what role the president would play in the federal government. With the election of 1800, the newly elected Republicans introduced the “plebiscitarian principle,” according to one scholar, Bruce Ackerman. Bruce Ackerman, The Failure of the Founding […]

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Political Parties

Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson had a contentious relationship, from their time serving as Secretaries in Washington’s administration forward. That contentious relationship manifested itself, at least partially, in the fact that they had crucial ideological differences. At first, those ideological differences were not reflected by different memberships in political parties. During the time they were […]

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East Versus West?

In 1790, President Washington implemented an excise tax on spirits distilled within the United States. A bold move for the Federalists, who were seeking to create a more assertive, more organized, more cohesive federal government. The maverick states did not take kindly to it, nor did the citizens affected by this newly created tax. What […]

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