Describe the formation and dissolution of the first political party system
Your paper must:
be four to five pages long (no less than four, no more than five), not including the title page,
have a title/cover page with your name, my name, the course title and number, and date,
be typed in 12 point Times New Roman font,
be double spaced (strictly double – no extra spaces before/after lines or between paragraphs),
have 1″ margins on all sides,
be free of writing errors,
include parenthetical citations of your sources in the body of your paper [i.e. (text, 127) or (documentary, Week 2) or (Author Video, Ch 3), (Voices of Freedom, Ch 4)
address the prompt directly and completely,
rely only on materials assigned in this course
contain specific information from each assigned chapter (6-10), and from the assigned documentary films,
include information and analysis of Voices of Freedom documents
contain an introductory paragraph, clearly defined body paragraphs, and a conclusion,
be submitted as a Word document or PDF ONLY.
Your paper should:
have a clear thesis, stated in the introductory paragraph,
be well organized using paragraphs with topic sentences that support your thesis,
use information from a wide variety of the assigned sources.
Your prompt is:
Describe the formation and dissolution of the first political party system (Federalists and Republicans), being sure to explore key figures, events, ideologies, and policies. Then, compare the first party system with the second (Democrats and Whigs). Finally, evaluate the effectiveness of political parties in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
First and Second Party System
The political party system is a political science, comparative concept that concerns the government system involving political parties within a country that has embraced democracy. Ideally, political parties share various similarities, including their control over the government, create internal control mechanisms over information, funding, and nominations, and have mass popular support (Maisel & Brewer, 2012). The predominant method used to classify political parties considers the number of parties that are considered relevant and the extent of fragmentation. As such, the number of effective parties can be used to distinguish between party systems. The United States has a strong history of political parties, with a system characterized by domination of two parties being noted from the first party system. In as much as they have existed various parties within the country, individuals tend to affiliate themselves with either of the two dominant parties at each point in time. This paper is going to review the first party system and compare it to the second party system to note any similarities and differences between the two systems.
The First Party System
The first party system in the US, also referred to as the first era, took place between 1796 and 1816 (Maisel & Brewer, 2012). It is important to note that prior to this era, the US was ruled by George Washington whose presence was unifying. As such, he held the country together in terms of ideologies and all the people merged forces towards a single course of the country. Nevertheless, after Washington retired, the country was quickly divided into two opposing sides, each defined by differing ideological basis. Members from one of the two ideological sides were referred to as the Federalists, while the others were referred to as the Republicans (Schier & Eberly, 2013). These two made history when they became the first two political parties in the country. The Federalists party was founded by Alexander Hamilton and John Adams based on their belief of a strong national government. While employing loose constructionism, the Federalists argued that it was important for the government to be empowered and for such power to be used to enhance economic development. They maintained that such could be achieved through the establishment of a national bank that would allow the federal government to finance the construction of harbors, roads, and bridges. The federalists were pro-British, whereby they believed that the economic future of America was highly dependent on the establishment of a proper commercial relationship with Great Britain (Schier & Eberly, 2013). Members of this party also maintained that it was integral for the emerging manufacturing sector in America to be promoted by employing various protectionist measures including tariffs.
It was as a result of the ideologies of the Federalists that the Republican Party, which was also referred to as the Democratic-Republicans, was established by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, who greatly disagreed with such ideologies (Maisel & Brewer, 2012). The Republicans believed that strengthening of the federal government would take the power away from the people and would allow only a few people at the helm of the government to benefit from the country’s economy, while the majority, who included farmers would suffer in poverty. As such, members of this party employed strict constructionism, which involved narrowing their reading of the constitution to allow for the restriction of the national government’s powers. Republicans held that it was important to maintain agriculture, as opposed to manufacturing, as the economic base of Americans (Foner, 2013). In addition, Republicans believed that a closer relationship with Britain was not necessary, and demonstrated their disregard for the British when they showed sympathy for the French with regard to their revolution and war against the British.
The Federalists were the majority in the government during the 1790s, having a large pulling among the public. Nevertheless, their dominance was cut short as from 1800. The election of Thomas Jefferson as the president marked the largest of the Republican victories, which also included large gains in the Senate and the House of Representatives (Foner, 2013). Even after Jefferson’s election into the presidency, the Federalists still held some power that allowed them to obstruct some of the initiatives put in place by the Republicans. Nevertheless, such power was not enough to hinder the US from engaging Britain in war in 1812. The Federalists strongly opposed this war, even after it had started, an aspect that had greater negative implications for their viability. After victories were experienced against the British at New Orleans and Baltimore, the reputation still held by the Federalists was completely stumped upon and their political force at the national level was completely forgotten (Foner, 2013). The Republicans enjoyed as one party rule for a decade after the Federalists fall, during a period referred to as “The Era of Good Feelings.” Nevertheless, it did not take long for factions to develop within the party in the names of Democratic Republicans and National Republicans. Gradually, these factions developed into strong political parties that defined the next era of political parties, which ran from 1828 through mid-1850s.
Comparison Between the First and the Second Party Systems
As earlier mentioned, the second party system ran from 1820s to 1850s and it involved a contest between the newly formed factions National Republicans and Democratic Republicans within the Democratic Republicans party from the first party system. Part of the leaders within the party, including Henry Clay, John Quincy Adams, and Daniel Webster formed the National Republicans based on the idea that the government can be empowered and such power to be used in advancing various cultural and social improvements (Harris & Tichenor, 2010). According to a program proposed by Adams, it was important for various internal improvements to be upheld in various projects, including canals, roads, and harbors, and for innovative ideas to be promoted through the support of government and national university for scientific ideas (Harris & Tichenor, 2010). As such, he maintained that such could only be achieved through empowering the government.
In addition, the National Republicans maintained that government authority could be effectively employed in making moral changes including Sabbatarianism and temperance (Maisel & Brewer, 2012). These National Republicans were later referred to as the Whigs. It is important to note the similarity between the Whigs and the Federalists in the first party system, whereby both parties believed that empowering the national government was a highly beneficial course. The Whigs were, like the Federalists, heavily supported by communities from the northeast. Nevertheless, unlike the Federalists agenda, the Whig agenda was more middle-class oriented. As opposed to the Federalists ideology, the Whigs did not direct their narrow focus on economics on a wide scale. Instead, they focused their focus on moralizing and improving the quality of life among Americans with the use of government power (Schier & Eberly, 2013). Case in point, Whigs maintained that public institutions such as asylums, schools, and hospitals could be used to promote good character and good health among the public.
On the other hand, democratic Republicans did not go away from the Jeffersonian tradition. To show how committed they were towards advancing the common man’s interests, they changed their name to Democrats (Foner, 2013). Members of this party heavily opposed any moves to expand and empower the national government and any proposals by the Whig that were deemed a threat to their cultural, economic, and social freedoms. Democrats argued that by allowing the federal government to intervene in the economy, only a small portion of the public, those considered as economically elite, would benefit at the expense of the rest. Nevertheless, the Democrats supported the forceful removal of the Natives from their land by the government in order to create more space for white immigrants to occupy. In addition, they supported the government’s war with Mexico in view of expanding the western domain, thus contradicting their stance concerning empowering of the government (Schier & Eberly, 2013).
The second party system
thus seemed to be a repetition of the first party system, with the new divisions
within the Democratic Republicans party from the first party system being based
on the same ideologies that formed their unified stance against the Federalists
in the first party system, with only a few variations. The Federalists in the
first party system, just like the Whigs in the second party system proposed the
utilization of the government power for the benefit of the society, with the
former proposing economic benefits, while the latter proposing cultural and
social benefits. On the other hand, the Democrats in the second party system
upheld the position established by the Democratic-Republicans in the first
party system. They maintained that empowering the government would only benefit
a few individuals within the government and not the entire society.
Foner, E. (2013). Give Me Liberty! An American History (4th ed.). New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Harris, R. A., & Tichenor, D. J. (2010). A History of the U.S. Political System: Ideas, Interests, and Institutions. (R. A. Harris, & D. J. Tichenor, Eds.) Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Maisel, L. S., & Brewer, M. D. (2012). Parties and Elections in America: The Electoral Process. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Schier, S. E., & Eberly, T. E. (2013). American Government and Popular Discontent: Stability Without Success. New York: Routledge.