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When America started out, there was the Congress, and they helped run everything next to the President (specifically at that time, George Washington). The people still voted for the people on Congress, but there weren’t many to choose from. Then the political groups started emerging, and people started taking sides/joining parties. The two I’m focusing on are the Federalists, and the Democratic Republicans. First, what caused the deep divide.
France and Britain had been fighting over trade in certain areas for a while now, and France needed help. Britain didn’t need it, because they had (and it could be argued that they still do) the best naval fleet in the world. But they still expected compliance from the newborn America. Well, Thomas Jefferson was in full support of the French, and Madison (who belonged to the Federalists) wanted to support the British (they’d cut off trade to the Caribbean, but Madison wanted to support them anyways, I couldn’t discern why; if anyone has any idea please put it in your reply). The French felt that since they helped birth America, America should be on their side, having supported the quite substantially financially. So, the Federalists supported Madison, and therefore Britain, while the Democratic Republicans supported Jefferson, therefore supporting France.
These two parties began as amiable friends/partners, with some minor disagreements on the ratification of the Constitution, but things changed when George Washington (the current President at the time) had to choose sides in a fast-developing war between France and England. Jefferson and Madison both put forth their two cents, and Washington decided anyways that they’d remain outright neutral. Nobody was happy with this, but he did it anyways, and I think it was the right decision at the time.
However, around 15 years later, Madison changed his tune. England had been seizing American ships for years, and he’d had enough. So, he appealed to Congress to declare outright war on England, seeing as they were already on the defensive. So, Congress folded, and the war of 1812 began. The parties were then quieted regarding their differences for a while; they had enough to worry about. Then the First Lady (Madison’s wife Dolly) really stepped up to bat. She was worried because the Federalists were disgruntled, having lost the presidential race. They’d “‘refused’ to attend presidential dinners or other functions.” (166) So, she “concocted a plan” to bring both parties back together. She threw big parties. The Federalists became “alarmed” by this because they were “crowded with republicans”, and they were missing the fun. That’s how the First Lady brought both parties together.
When one mentions the Federalists, one must mention Alexander Hamilton. It could be argued that he shaped and/or made the Federalists. He was the one to put forth many ideas that party had; unfortunately, it seems James Madison took most of the credit, as Hamilton wasn’t the best at politics. However, he made up for that.
What clearly had Hamilton’s name all over it was articles” essays” written in newspapers “that were nothing but a mouthpiece for his ideas and a cannon for his attacks on naysayers”. (126) When Hamilton started publishing these works, Jefferson gave a guy named Philip Freneau sufficient funds to publish the National Gazette, which was the “mouthpiece for Jefferson’s ideas and counterattacks”. Basically, it turned into a virtual fight, with both spouting terrible (but true) things about the other in an effort to convince the people that they were right, and the other was wrong.
My question would be how did the U.S. as a country manage to survive amidst French and English tensions as well as pirates?
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