What were the Democratic-Republican and the Federalist party's beliefs and ideals about Jefferson's expanding agrarian republic?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Democratic-Republicans and the Federalists were the two main political parties in the early United States.  The two parties had different opinions on most issues.  One of the important issues on which they differed was Thomas Jefferson’s idea of an agrarian republic. 

Thomas Jefferson was one of the most important members of the Democratic-Republican Party.  This means, of course, that his party supported his idea of an agrarian republic.  They felt that an agrarian republic would be best-suited to democracy.  If most of the people in the country were small farmers, they would all be independent and fairly equal to one another.  That way, they would all have about the same amount of power and could legitimately be part of a democratic polity.

By contrast, the Federalists did not want an agrarian republic.  First, they felt that such an economy would not create enough wealth.  An agrarian republic, they feared, would be too poor to be a major power.  They wanted a mixed economy with industry that would create more wealth.  In addition, the Federalists did not believe in a strongly democratic society.  They did not trust the masses to do the right thing and they, therefore, wanted government to be more in the hands of the elite.

Thus, the Federalists disliked Jefferson’s idea of an agrarian republic while the Democratic-Republicans embraced that idea.

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