Hamiltonians And Jeffersonians Essay, Research Paper
Thesis: The division of the Hamiltonians and Jeffersonians was influential in setting the stage for the birth of independent political movement among Americans and freedom of thought among citizens for years to come.
Since America first became free from British rule, its citizens have upheld a strong central feeling of nationalism and pride of what they had accomplished. As a whole they held the same ideals for what their new country should be based on. Religious freedom, republican government, and power to the people were the central ideals shared by the new free people of the United States. Once politicians started to propose new policies and thoughts on how the government should be run, Americans began to see that they too could hold their own political opinions and didn t have to conform to what their superiors said. Such politicians were Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. The rivalry between Jefferson and Hamilton appealed to a wide range of social groups, thus siding citizens against each other (Henr 224). This movement created new social factions, or political parties, among Americans. Americans then began to form their own individual ideals and think for themselves.
First, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton seemed to be against each other s political programs from the start. Economically, Hamilton proposed many plans which outraged Jefferson, such as the assumption plan, the excise tax, and the idea of a National Bank (Loth 180). Hamilton was clearly trying to force his federalist system of government upon America, and Jefferson stood up to what he called a corrupt squadron of paper dealers and their attempt to obtain wealth through their political power (Henretta 216). Jefferson joined James Madison on his crusade against Hamilton and attacked his policies as immoral and unconstitutional (Loth 172). Jefferson argued that the national bank was not delegated by the constitution, thus making it unconstitutional. Hamilton fought back stating that if the constitution doesn t condemn a certain measure, then it cannot be unconstitutional. Hamilton won and a National Bank was created, fueling the rivalry between Jefferson and himself.
Jefferson and Hamilton also differed greatly on their social views and beliefs on what American society should be based on. Hamilton and his federalist counterparts strongly believed that America s power and future was directly dependent on mercantilism and the amount of money flowing through the nation. He felt that northeastern merchants held the power to pull the United States out of its war debt and provide the necessary specie to keep the nation s economy going (Henretta 217). Therefore Hamilton ignored America s farming community and directed his attention to product manufacturing, giving protective tariffs to northeastern manufacturers so that they could better compete with European markets (Mitchell 104). Thomas Jefferson, being raised in a rural community, spoke for the southwestern farmers. He saw America s future as more of an agrarian based democracy (Henretta 219). Abundant harvests would be traded with European nations instead of manufactured goods. There was plenty of land in the newly settled west for this process to take place, and Jefferson felt that this surplus in fertile farming area would insure that his plan would work. Anti-federalists followed his idea of an agricultural western America and saw it to be far more beneficial to the national economy than Hamilton s fixed-rate manufacturing method.
There were times that federalists and democratic republicans thrived together despite their clearly defined differences. During the French Revolution Hamiltonian merchants shipped the raw cotton of Jeffersonian farmers to the huge market in Britain. As both Jefferson and Hamilton had hoped, farmers and merchants prospered greatly from the high prices overseas (Henretta 220). However, the federalists and democratic republicans sided again when France had abandoned its constitutional monarchy during the revolution and became more of a democratic republic (Mitchell 245). Federalists felt that the downfall the reign of Louis XVI was taking away the power of the government, and that the Jeffersonians who applauded Louis execution were in favor of a less powerful government in America (Henretta 221). On the contrary followers of Jefferson felt that the only way a true republic could be formed was through the total destruction and downfall of the monarchy; Such are the fruits of that form of government (Bailey 161) . Again these two political parties had fuel added to their fire of bitter rivalry.
The election of 1796 created a whole new controversy in America. Political candidates now organized their campaigns and discussed policies with their supporters. Therefore new political parties developed and citizens again divided into factions (Henretta 224). These social groups rallied to try to gather support for their beliefs and the beliefs of their respective candidates.
People of the United States could clearly start to see the trend in resistance to conformity among their peers. Citizens now had people to uphold their ideals and perceptions of government, when before all they had was the popular vote of wealthy, powerful citizens. At first the new political parties and factions might have been based on lifestyle or family, ethnicity, or regional concerns, but personal morals and principles soon came into play during this time of drastic change among American citizens and their political outlooks. An example of this attitude can be seen with the determination of John Adams during the election of 1800. He rejected the advice of many popular federalists, such as Alexander Hamilton, who suggested he declare war with France after the X,Y, Z Affair . Adams stood up to this advice and instead went his own way and started the diplomatic negotiations with France that ended the dispute (Henretta 225).
The patriotic spirit of Americans today can be traced back to the competition between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson during the time shortly after the foundation of our nation s government. Through the various social and political factions formed at this time Americans began to become their own person and disregard popular belief, identifying with other citizens or political leaders with the same view. This truly American attitude and ideal of independence has been passed through our culture since the time of Jefferson and Hamilton, and to this day keeps Americans from conforming to popular beliefs and promotes independent thought and free spirit throughout the United States.