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The United States Federalist party was a political party primarily in operation from 1794 to the early 1800s. Its only President was John Adams, and its second party was the Democratic-Republican party. It was the majority party in the Congress for only a few years, only during Adams's presidency. They are notorious for passing the Alien and Sedition Acts.
The Federalist Party started early in United States history and was formed during the first term of George Washington. The Federalist Party began as a faction within Washington's Administration, and developed out of the rivalries between Alexander Hamilton, Washington's former senior aide during the war who had been appointed as the first Secretary of the Treasury, and Thomas Jefferson, the First Secretary of State. Hamilton assumed increasing power in the Washington Administration, and pushed his agenda. Differences in agenda caused Jefferson leave the Administration and eventually run for President in opposition to the Federalist Candidate John Adams.
Hamilton and the Federalists generally supported a large and strong National Government, a standing army, limited participation in government by commoners, a continuance of the English system of peerage and commoners, a two-tiered legal and tax system, and English interests rather than French.
Early Conservative Obfuscation Edit
Jefferson wasn't a Federalist, although he was a federalist. Hamilton, and his faction co-opted the name Federalist for their own faction even though they were actually more Nationalist in their agenda (the US Constitution was actually a compromise between federal and national supporters, but media was always a rich man's game, so if they said something loud enough and long enough it seemed to be true). Jefferson and his faction preferred to call themselves Republicans, but Hamilton's faction preferred to call them the more pejorative name Democrat or Anti-Federalist.
From faction to Party Edit
Jefferson came to see Hamilton's "Federalist" faction as betraying the federal/national government compromise as well as the liberal and republican ideals of representative government and equality.
Jefferson had been the Minister to France, and had been part of negotiating the US treaty with the French. Jefferson preferred that the US honor it's treaty obligation, preferred a Federal as opposed to National government, preferred more representation for common people, and preferred a single rule of law and equal tax rates for all.
Business interests and social elites tended to support the Federalists while farmers and immigrants, small merchants, and workingmen, and veterans tended to support the Democratic-Republicans. Federalists were Right wing or Moderate, but became increasingly conservative and authoritarian as Alexander Hamilton's influence and control of the party grew. Some historians prefer to call Hamilton's closest followers High-Federalists to differentiate them from the rest of the Federalists (probably more moderate conservatives) who eventually became supporters of John Adams.
Election of 1796 Edit
The election of 1796 remains one of the strangest in American History. In the election of 1794, the Federalist Party's John Adams and Thomas Pinckney were opposed by the Democratic Republican Party's Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. At this time, each party presented a candidate for president and a candidate for vice president for election, but the electoral colleges each voted for two candidates, and the majority winner was named President with the runner-up named vice-President. The practice was for one elector to vote for the party presidential candidate and someone other than the party vice-Presidential candidate. This process ensured that the winning Party's Presidential candidate would finish first, and it's vice-Presidential candidate would finish second. During the election of 1796, Alexander Hamilton attempted to influence the Federalist electors to reject John Adams and instead select the more pliable Thomas Pinckney as President. Hamilton's plot was discovered, and so many Federalist electors refused to vote for Pinckney that the opposition candidate Thomas Jefferson finished second in the balloting and became vice-President.