Federalists and Democratic Republicans

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How did Federalists and Republicans agree and differ in dealing with foreign policy?

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There were some similarities, but few. Both sides agreed that the United States should not be true allies of European foreign powers, i.e. neither side believed that the United States military should be involved in the massive wars going on in Europe at the time. However, that is where the similarities ended.

The Federalists under Hamilton and Adams believed that the United States should favor Britain in terms of trade and diplomacy. The United States had closer economic ties with Britain. The Federalists protested the War of 1812 to the point of nearly driving the Northeast out of the Union in the Hartford Convention; this would ultimately prove to be the undoing of the Federalist party. The Federalists believed in a strong national army as this would be the only way to keep the nation's borders safe.

The Democratic-Republicans favored France in diplomacy. They backed French ideals of republicanism, though many Democratic-Republicans were against the Reign of Terror and ensuing rule of Napoleon. The Democratic-Republicans viewed British impressment as the same as a declaration of war. They also viewed a large army as being a weapon of a future despot so they desired to use small militias. The Democratic-Republicans under Jefferson and Madison cut the size of the army and navy. Madison's government then went to war in the War of 1812 in order to preserve American shipping rights as well as gain Canada. The war was a failure on the latter goal but was successful in that Britain no longer impressed American sailors. The Napoleonic Wars ended around the time of the War of 1812, so the change in British policy was more due to the defeat of France rather than American successes.

Both sides were in favor of the defeat of the Barbary Pirates, but it took Jefferson's government to take action against them as he saw military action as ultimately being cheaper than paying bribes year after year to the pirates.

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Federalists and Democratic-Republicans differed on many things. This included their views on foreign policy. However, there also were some foreign policy ideas on which they agreed.

One area of difference in foreign policy was in regarding to the country each side supported. The Federalists were friendlier with Great Britain and wanted us to side with the British. The Democratic-Republicans were friendlier with France and wanted us to work more closely with France. For example, in the war of 1812, the Federalists were against the war, which was fought against the British. They referred to the war as "Mr. Madison’s War." The Democratic-Republicans supported the war.

There were a few situations where both parties agreed on foreign policy. In the XYZ Affair with France, both sides were outraged that the French demanded a bribe from us in order to meet with them to discuss to the issues we had with France. Americans were willing to spend millions to defend ourselves, but not willing to spend a penny paying a bribe.

When the countries on the North African coast were supportive of the actions of pirates in demanding that we pay a bribe so they wouldn’t attack our ships, Americans were very supportive of our government when we went to war to fight against these pirates. Americans felt we shouldn’t have to pay a bribe to any country in order for us to trade.

While Federalists and Democratic-Republicans disagreed on many things, including foreign policy issues, there were some foreign policy ideas on which they agreed.

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How did the Federalists and Republican view on foreign affairs differ?

I think that the Republicans viewed foreign affairs in a more isolationist manner than the Federalists.  It is a challenge to assess what the Federalists would do in foreign affairs because at the time, there was little in way of Federalist leaders to fully articulate the point of view for the foreign affairs of the Federalists.  Certainly, the Federalist intervention under Adams in foreign affairs in the X,Y,Z, affair and the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts both caused public perception to side with the Republican point of view in foreign affairs.  The Republicans, under Thomas Jefferson, were much more cautious in foreign affairs.  They proceeded with negotiations with France via the Pinckney Treaty to acquire the Louisiana Purchase.  Jefferson was very cautious and conservative in proceeding with this.  The Republican point of view of embracing smaller and more localized governments would also lead towards an isolationist point of view in foreign affairs.  Additionally, the Republican desire for neutrality in France and England Wars ravaging through Europe would also indicate how their point of view on foreign affairs is different than that of the Federalists.

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