Political Parties Essay

1478 WordsMay 1, 20126 Pages
Most historical literature refers to the "Party" of the Washington Administration as the Federalists with those in opposition to the policies of that Administration as Antifederalists; however, the use of these designations is, in fact, more than a little inaccurate. The term "Antifederalist" (originally applied to those who had opposed the ratification of the Constitution drafted by the Framers meeting in Convention in Philadelphia in 1787) ceased to have any real meaning as a designation of a political faction once the Constitution formally took effect on 4 March 1789, as anyone serving in the new Federal Government had to take an oath to the new Constitution before entering upon their duties: referring to members of Congress as "Antifederalist", thus, makes little- if any- sense. In addition, there were no real national Political Parties prior to the Presidential Election of 1796 (although loose coalitions between, where not pre-arranged alliances among, State-based "factions"- along the lines of those cosmopolitan vs. localist divisions in Revolutionary Era politics suggested by the historian Jackson Turner Main- would prove to be the basis of the two Parties which would emerge in 1796 and did also have some effect on the political make-up of the first four Congresses). It is best, therefore, to treat those who served in the first four Congresses [1789-1797] as being either Administration (that is, generally allied with those around Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Vice President John Adams) or Opposition (those generally associated with Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Congressman James Madison)- with the caveat that, while there is an apparent lineal connection between these groupings and the later Federalists and Republicans, respectively, the Presidency of George Washington was an era of "factions" rather than one of "Parties" and

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