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As a way to get students to be thinking about the difference beween a strong central...

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As a way to get students to be thinking about the difference beween a strong central governing body and a more democratic government, I'm looking for a journal entry prompt to start a class covering Washington's administration and the Hamilton Jefferson contrast.

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You might consider asking your students to describe the similarities and differences between the visions of Jefferson and Hamilton for the new Republic, and how Washington managed to reconcile those two visions.

Jefferson and Hamilton could not have been more different, personally and in philosophy. Jefferson was from Virginia, tall, shy, and born to wealth; whereas Hamilton was from New York, short, flamboyant, and self made. Jefferson was a strong believer in Democracy, and the rule of the people. He was mindful that the revolution had been fought because of actions by Parliament considered by the then colonists to be abusive. Hamilton feared anarchy and felt this could only be maintained by a strong national government.

Initially he dispute between the two erupted over location of the new Capital City, which Jefferson wanted in the South and Hamilton in the North, the nation's business center. That dispute was resolved by a compromise which allowed the construction of the capital in the South in exchange for which the federal government assumed the debts of the individual states left from the Revolutionary War.

The dispute came to a head over the issue of establishment of the Bank of the United States which Hamilton considered necessary to maintain order and structure for the government; but which Jefferson considered a dangerous step down the slippery slope of governmental abuse of power.

Interestingly, both men looked upon Washington as something of a father figure. Washington did not wish a second term as President, but both men begged him to stay in office, as each feared that he was the only person who could resolve the differences which the nation faced.


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