September 24th, 2014
Federalists and Republicans
Compare and contrast the basic political and economic philosophies of the Federalists, represented by Hamilton, and the Republicans, represented by Jefferson and Madison.
Two competing basic political philosophies have always existed throughout the United States’ history; one seeking to increase the power of the central government, and one seeking to decrease it. During the 1800s, the two philosophies were played out by the Federalist and the Republican parties conflicting in many different ways. The Federalists, represented by Alexander Hamilton, promoted the importance of a strong central government to succeed in the world, while the Republicans, represented by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, promoted the importance a smaller central government. Although the Federalists and Republicans had some similar principles on political and economic philosophies, they differed greatly in many areas.
While the Federalist and Republicans have contrasting opinions about the size of the central government, both parties agreed that the central government needed more power than it previously had under the Articles of Confederation. Federalists’ belief was that for a strong country, it was required that the country have a strong central government. Under this form of government it had the power to control commerce, tax, declare war, and make treaties. Whereas the Republicans believed that they had to limit national control and give more power to the state governments; for the primary reason to maintain individuals rights. The Republicans were mostly composed of commoners rather than the Federalists who tended to be more wealthy and powerful. Because of this, the Republicans were afraid of a strong central government and as a result being taken advantage of. The Republicans believed that if a government was too strong there would be almost no power in state governments, which would highly limit an individual’s freedom. While both parties disagreed on the role that the central government should play in the new Country, they agreed that the central government needed more power than it had under the Articles of Confederation. Under the Articles, the Central government had little to no power to do anything. Instances such as Shays Rebellion demonstrated that the Central Government could not even support its own States and put down a somewhat small rebellion. Because of rebellions and instances such as these, both the Federalists and Republicans agreed that the central government should have more power. But again it is highly debated on how much power should be distributed and received.
Other issues that were highly debated by the two parties were the subjects of national debt and a national bank. Both Hamilton and Jefferson agreed that paying off debt was a large factor to creating a strong economy but they differed on the ways that it should be paid off. Hamilton a “financial wizard” created a plan called the Assumption Plan to pay off the states debt from the war. He figured that the “states debts were regarded as a proper national obligation” and therefore the national government should assume all the states debts. Jefferson was not a hundred percent opposed against this, but felt that if the U.S. assumed all the states debt, then there would be little money to create security for the new country. He also felt that national debt was a tool by which the rich would overtake the nation with excessive spending, and would create an excuse to create an overly powerful central government. Hamilton was