The Age of Federalism
For more than a decade the founding fathers had to wrestle both with the problems of establishing the new government under the Constitution and with shaping policies, domestic and abroad, that would impact the future. The period was beset by frequent crises—near war with Great Britain and then with France, disputes with Spain, the Whiskey Rebellion, Indian wars, turmoil over the Alien and Sedition Acts, and insurgent protest against the federal land tax. The authors provide comprehensive treatment of the government’s responses to events and also to the development of oppositional politics. The ideas and personalities of Washington, Adams, Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, and lesser participants are fathomed, with the aid of biographical sketches.
The authors find a continuity in the ideologies of the nation’s founders, going back to the early Revolutionary War era and the period of formation of the Constitution. While the leading figures all subscribed to republicanism, they differed as to the degree of trust that should be placed in democracy; the Hamiltonian solution being one that promoted expansion of national powers and a mercantilist program, whereas Jefferson and Madison favored strict construction of the Constitution and encouragement of agrarianism over industry.
Elitism prevailed during the Federalist administrations, and the men in power failed to discern or appreciate that American destiny included the existence of political...
(The entire section is 370 words.)
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