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Washington & Congress, 1789 - 1796. Partisan Politics Emerge During Washington’s Presidency . A Note on George Washington.

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Washington congress 1789 1796
Washington & Congress, 1789 - 1796

Partisan Politics Emerge During Washington’s Presidency


A note on george washington
A Note on George Washington

George Washington didn’t really want for this to happen. In his Cabinet, strong personalities and men of ability were brought together. Jefferson and Hamilton were frequently on the opposite side of the issues. Yet, all of the men were patriot Americans. Recognizing this, George Washington tried to project a public image of the disinterested statesman. Privately, he appears to have agreed with Alexander Hamilton more frequently than with Thomas Jefferson.


Reasons for the divide
Reasons for the Divide

  • Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton ended up on the opposite side of many crucial debates during Washington’s Presidency, including:

  • The Bill of Rights Debate

  • The Assumption of the National Debt and Redemption of Bonds.

  • Powers of the Government under the Constitution

  • The National Bank

  • Who Should Rule? Who, exactly, are “We the People?”

  • Foreign Policy Options

  • The Alien and Sedition Acts – in 1798, under John Adams


The bill of rights
The Bill of Rights

Thomas Jefferson & the Republicans

Alexander Hamilton & the Federalists

Alexander Hamilton and his Federalists were unconvinced that any rights would be better preserved by placing them in writing. Overall, they believed that the rights were necessary and proper, but they also thought that this went without saying.

  • Jefferson and Madison were strong supporters of the Bill of Rights, believing they were essential to (1) preserve the rights of the people and (2) appease the Antifederalists who had resigned themselves to the Constitution in 1788.


The assumption of the nation debt by the federal government
The Assumption of the Nation debt by the Federal Government

Jefferson, Madison, & the Republicans

Alexander Hamilton & the Federalists

Hamilton knew exactly what he was doing when he assumed the debt of each of the states in 1789. By taking the burden of debt off of the states who still owed money to England, France, Holland or Spain, he was justifying the national government’s right to tax its subjects going forward.

  • Both men, but especially James Madison, saw through Alexander Hamilton’s design. They knew that if the national government assumed all of the states’ debts, that this would give the federal government a compelling reason to tax the states – after all, they had to repay England, France, and Holland for helping to grant us our independence.


The redemption of bonds
The Redemption of Bonds

Madison: OPPOSED

Hamilton: IN FAVOR

Hamilton realized that by paying full price on the government bonds, the aristocratic, wealthy, elite would come to support the government. If a few of the “lower sort” felt they were losing power, so be it.

  • Paying full price on the Congress’ paper money bills was going to reward the money speculators who had purchased the bonds when no one believed that the nation would win the conflict.


Powers under the constitution
Powers Under the Constitution

Jeffersonian Republicans

Hamiltonian Federalists

Alexander Hamilton was much more covetous of power – for himself and for the government. He believed that if something was not strictly forbidden by the Constitution, that the government could take action on it’s own. He believed in the “implied powers” within the Constitution.

  • Jefferson feared that the national government would attempt to take too much power. He therefore advocated a “strict constructionist” view of the Constitution. If the Constitution did not specifically grant the government the power to take an action, they could not do so.


The national bank
The National Bank

Alexander Hamilton viewed the National Bank as a way to encourage cooperation between the wealthy, elite members of society and the government. Since this power was not specifically enumerated in the Constitution, Jefferson viewed the National Bank as a usurpation of power and mistrusted Alexander Hamilton’s motives – as always…


Who should rule
Who should rule?

Jeffersonian Republicans

Hamiltonian Federalists

Alexander Hamilton believed in a nation of industry and merchant traders. His thought was that a productive society would be more profitable and influential on the world stage. Hamilton believed in republicanism, but would have restricted the vote to property owners.

  • Jefferson believed in the virtue of an agrarian republic. He believed that small farmers – educated landowners – would be the most virtuous men to build a nation with. He wanted to expand the democracy accordingly.


Foreign policy choices
Foreign Policy choices

Jeffersonian Republicans

Hamiltonian Federalists

Hamilton was an Anglophile, meaning that he was in favor of strong diplomatic ties with England.

This was not as popular a view, since Americans had recently fought to sever ties with England.

  • Jefferson was a Francophile, meaning that he was in favor of strong diplomatic ties with France.

  • This was generally a popular view, since France had helped the United States gain its independence.


The alien and sedition acts
The Alien and Sedition ACts

Jeffersonian Republicans

Hamiltonian Federalists

Hamilton agreed with John Adams that the Alien and Sedition acts were necessary infringements of the people’s rights in order to preserve the gains of the revolution. Hamilton viewed the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions as a danger to the supremacy of the federal government, since they advocated nullification and interposition.

  • Jefferson and Madison viewed the Alien and Sedition Acts as obviously unconstitutional measures which limited freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and put the liberty of the people at risk. The two men penned the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions in protest, claiming that states had the right to declare Congressional acts unconstitutional on their own.


What two documents authored by Virginians did James Madison rely upon in creating the bill or rights? Who wrote each document?

The Virginia Declaration of Rights, by George Mason

The Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, by Thomas Jefferson


Hamilton s financial plan
Hamilton’s Financial Plan rely upon in creating the bill or rights? Who wrote each document?

  • Hamilton proposed a tariff on all imported goods shipped into the United States. The Tariff of 1789 was used to raise revenue.

  • Hamilton proposed that the national government should absorb the debts of the states. This way, the national government would have a legitimate reason to insist upon taxing the states.

  • The establishment of a National Bank. Hamilton viewed this as a way to foster relationships with the wealthy, the elite, and the aristocratic powers in the nation.

  • The Excise Taxes. “Sin” taxes, like those on whiskey, could be commanded by the federal government to raise revenue.


Enumerated powers
Enumerated powers rely upon in creating the bill or rights? Who wrote each document?

  • The word “enumerated” means listed.

  • The enumerated powers in the Constitution, then, are powers which are specifically mentioned in the Constitution. For example, the power to tax, the power to declare war, the ability to raise and army, or any of the other powers of government specifically delegated to one or more branches of the government.


Implied powers
Implied powers rely upon in creating the bill or rights? Who wrote each document?

  • The work implied means that something is not explicitly stated, but suggested, or hinted at.

  • The “implied powers” of the Constitution are aspects of the document which appear to give the government expansive powers to create laws.

  • In the Constitution, for example, the Congress is given the power “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper.” What is meant by this? Alexander Hamilton would say that this means the federal government has the power to take powers necessary to do its job, whether the Constitution specifically allows them to or not!


The whiskey rebellion
The Whiskey Rebellion rely upon in creating the bill or rights? Who wrote each document?

The Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 was an important moment in US History. Washington personally led a group of 13,000 soldiers to successfully put down a small insurrection in Western Pennsylvania. Compare Washington’s strong response to the feeble inaction of the Congress during Shays’ Rebellion, and you can see how much more powerful the new government actually was.


Who should rule1
Who Should Rule? rely upon in creating the bill or rights? Who wrote each document?

Thomas Jefferson

Alexander Hamilton

Hamilton believed that the poor could not be trusted with the power of government. He viewed them as overly passionate and too much prone to self-interested decisions. Instead, he favored giving political power to the “rich, well-born, and able.”

Jefferson was a believer in agrarianism. He thought that Americans who were citizen-farmers would be the most successful leaders of the government. He thought that ordinary people would be less corrupt and willing to fight to preserve the republic.


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