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   Chapter 82 1794).

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 3910

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: Origin of parties.]

During the four uneventful years from 1789 to 1793 two political parties had been slowly developed. Some writers have imagined that these two parties were a survival of the Revolutionary Whigs and Tories; some have traced them back to the debate on the assumption of State debts. John Adams, years later, went to the heart of the matter when he said: "You say our divisions began with Federalism and anti-Federalism. Alas! they began with human nature." The foundation for the first two great national parties was a difference of opinion as to the nature and proper functions of the new government.

During the second Congress, from 1791 to 1793, arose an opposition to Hamilton which gradually consolidated into a party. It came chiefly from the Southern and Middle States, and represented districts in which there was little capital or trade. Arrayed among his supporters were most of the representatives from New England, and many from the Middle States and South Carolina: they represented the commercial interests of the country; they desired to see the debt funded and the State debts assumed; they began to act together as another party.

[Sidenote: Hamilton and Jefferson.]

The final form taken by these two parties depended much upon the character of their leaders. Hamilton, a man of great personal force and of strong aristocratic feeling, represented the principle of authority, of government framed and administered by a select few for the benefit of their fellows. Jefferson, an advocate of popular government extended to a point never before reached, declared that his party was made up of those "who identified themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depositary of the public interest." Between two such men controversies were certain to arise. In May, 1792, Jefferson wrote that Hamilton had introduced

speculation and a dangerous construction of the constitution; and Hamilton wrote that Jefferson was at the head of a hostile faction dangerous to the Union. Washington attempted to make himself an arbiter of this quarrel, but was unable to reconcile the two men. They both urged him to accept a second term for the presidency, and he was again unanimously elected in 1792. The quarrel between the two great chiefs had by this time got abroad. Hamilton was said to be a monarchist. His administration of the Treasury was attacked, and an investigation was held early in 1793; but no one was able to find any irregularity.

[Sidenote: Party names.]

By this time the followers of Jefferson had begun to take upon themselves the name of Republicans. They held that the government ought to raise and spend as little money as possible; beyond that they rested upon the principles first definitely stated in Jefferson's opinion on the bank (§ 96) that Congress was confined in its powers to the letter of the Constitution; and that the States were the depositary of most of the powers of government. The other party took upon itself the name of Federal, or Federalist, which had proved so valuable in the struggle over the Constitution. Among its most eminent members were Hamilton, John Jay, Vice-President John Adams, and President Washington.

[Sidenote: Newspaper organs.]

Both parties now began to set in motion new political machinery. The "Gazette of the United States" became the recognized mouthpiece of the Federalists, and the "National Gazette," edited by Philip Freneau, translating clerk in Jefferson's department, began to attack Hamilton and other leading Federalists, and even the President. At a cabinet meeting Washington complained that "that rascal Freneau sent him three copies of his paper every day, as though he thought he would become a distributer of them. He could see in this nothing but an impudent design to insult him."

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