How did the Federalists' vision for the United States differ from that of their Republican opponents during the 1790s?

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George Washington, who served as the nation's first president from 1789 to 1797, was a reluctant chief executive. He had wanted to retire after years of service as a general and statesman, but the Founding Fathers strongly believed that Washington should be president. To his credit, Washington always put national...

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George Washington, who served as the nation's first president from 1789 to 1797, was a reluctant chief executive. He had wanted to retire after years of service as a general and statesman, but the Founding Fathers strongly believed that Washington should be president. To his credit, Washington always put national interests ahead of his own and went on to serve two terms. He sought national unity and comity above all else.

Keeping the new and large United States together was not easy. In addition to its size, the country was beset by difficulties caused by regionalism. New England and the South, in particular, were quite different.

Alexander Hamilton, who was Washington's Secretary of the Treasury, emerged as the leader of the Federalist party. Hamilton was an orphan at an early age, but he became very successful.

His brilliance and ambition caught Washington's attention during the Revolutionary War (1775–1783). Hamilton became the most influential member of Washington's cabinet. He sought to create a strong, diversified national economy and a robust central government. Hamilton had the national government assume the states' debts, and he argued for a national bank. His Federalist party was also pro-British.

Thomas Jefferson was Washington's Secretary of State. (Jefferson later became the third president of the US.) He and James Madison led what became known as the (Jeffersonian) Republican party. They wanted the states to keep more power. In addition, they favored agrarian interests. For example, they opposed Hamilton's liquor tax because it adversely impacted frontiersmen. They argued that the Constitution did not authorize a national bank. The Republicans were also pro-French.

Washington vainly tried to reconcile these two factions.

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The Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans were the original political parties in the United States when it was developed. After the drafting of the Constitution, these two parties came out trying to figure out the best way to develop the government of the United States.

The Federalists were, as the name implies, in favor of a strong federal government—reminiscent of the Parliament in Great Britain from which they had just separated. They were in favor of establishing a national bank and empowering the central government so they could dictate the laws of the land. This party was formed primarily by the wealthier but smaller northeastern states.

The Democratic-republicans favored the opposite strategy, wanting to focus on the states' rights and keeping power from a central government for fear of a similar situation happening (legislation being approved without the states' consent). They desired the central government to be weaker and to make decisions only about things on a national scale or which could not be decided by the individual states. This group was formed primarily by those in the Southern and Western states that relied more on agriculture.

These parties are representative somewhat of modern day Democrats (Federalists) and Republicans (Democratic-Republicans), although there are many differences.

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The Federalists under Alexander Hamilton and John Adams desired a strong central government with close ties to Britain. Britain was favored over France due to Britain's consumerism and the United States's strong trading ties with Britain. The Federalists also thought that the nation should focus more on industrial growth. The Federalists believed in a national bank to control the nation's money supply and a strong national army to defend the nation's borders. The Federalists enjoyed much of their support in New England.

The Democratic-Republicans, led by Jefferson and Madison, wanted strong state governments because they feared that a strong central government could trample the rights of the individual. The Democratic-Republicans favored strong ties with France; this was especially true after the French Revolution. The Democratic-Republicans wanted lower taxes and a weak national army because they viewed taxation and military forces as being the tools of dictators. The party also wanted to focus on the United States's agricultural future. The party enjoyed much of its support with those living in the South and West; this was one of the major reasons the party succeeded as these were two of the fastest growing regions after 1800.

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In the early days of the United States, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans made up the two major American political parties. These parties had very different visions of the future of the United States. The differing visions of each party also meant support from different areas and populations of the country.

The Federalists had a great deal of support in the northeastern part of the United States, primarily from those involved in manufacturing and shipping. The Federalist view of the United States involved a government that consisted of wealthier Americans, closer ties to Britain, a national bank, a loose interpretation of the Constitution, and a strong central government.

The Democratic-Republicans had greater support in the southern and western parts of the country. The Democratic-Republicans also received greater support from those involved in agriculture. The Democratic-Republican view for America involved a weaker central government with more power given to the state and local governments. The Democratic-Republicans also opposed a national bank, as they believed it would only serve wealthy manufacturers in the northeast. They also believed in greater government involvement by the common people of the nation, a strict interpretation of the Constitution, and closer ties to France.

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The Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans had different views regarding how our country should operate in the late 1700s. The Federalists believed we should have a strong federal government. They supported the concept of having a national bank. They also believed the Constitution should be loosely interpreted, meaning that we could do things unless the Constitution specifically prevented those things from happening. They believed we should be very friendly with Great Britain. John Adams and Alexander Hamilton were important people in this group.

The Democratic-Republicans had a very different view regarding how our country should operate. They believed the federal government should have limited power and be small in size. They wanted state governments to have more power. They favored low taxes and were against the idea of having a national bank. They believed in a strict interpretation of the Constitution, meaning we could do only what the Constitution said we could do. They believed we should be very friendly with France. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were important people in this group.

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