AP American History Period 4
Emergence of a Two-Party System 1789-1808
A two-party system is a political system in which the electorate gives its majority of votes to only two major parties and in which one or the other party can win a majority in the legislature. An example of a two-party system is the United States of America, which has the Republicans and the Democrats. For the candidacy to be president, the person must have a majority of the party supporting him or her. An advantage to having a two-party system is that it provides stability in the government so that not only one party wins the vote to govern the nation all the time. Two-party systems controls campaigning against each other so that one party can gain support of a certain group or minority. Between the two parties of a two-party system there is some agreement. With having a government with a two-party system with two major parties of similar views and of equal strength fighting for control of a government, when the governmental control alternates between the two parties, the policies that shift wont be so radical that the citizens will oppose and revolt against the government.
In 1789, the two men who were the leaders of the two parties that were to emerge were Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. Both Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson had a major influence during this time. Hamilton was an active delegate for New York at the Constitutional Convention, the main author of the Federalist papers and the first Secretary of the Treasury for the United States. He was the leader of the Federalist Party. Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence, United States’ first Secretary of the State, and state delegate responsible for the Louisiana Purchase. He was the leader of the Democratic Republicans. Many things led to the emergence of these two parties, but the most influential were the economic concerns and foreign affairs.
After American Revolution and Constitutional Convention, the national debt was still high. Hamilton wanted to take the debt head on and find ways to get rid of it. Hamilton plan was composed of three elements to help out with the country’s economic concerns. His first element was that the federal government would absorb all of the states debts. He thought that doing this would give people confidence in the federal government and trust in them. The amount of the total of all the states debts was around 21.5 million dollars. Some southern states had already paid off their debts so they settled for nation’s capital to be moved toward the south. The second element of Hamilton’s plan was to absorb the Confederation’s debt “at par”. Doing this would mean that the government would pay interest while they were paying off the national debt. The amount came to around 54 millions dollars. A reason why he wanted to do this was that it would give the citizens a sense of unity and respect with the federal government. The third element of Hamilton’s plan was his idea to establish a national bank. He wanted to base the bank on the bank of England. The bank would have its own form of currency that would be used throughout the whole country. He also believed in the need to create a national bank so that the federal government can collect taxes, pay debts, and control trade. This whole plan of Hamilton’s supported his idea of a strong centralized government. Jefferson criticized and opposed this plan because he felt that the state governments should have a more power over the people because they are closer to them. Congress and the president were more toward the federalists’ side when it came to economics staring with the taxation of whiskey, more tariffs, and the creation of the national bank. “Fortunately, men like Robert Morris and Alexander Hamilton were able to step into the breach and lead the new nation through its most critical time.”
There were a lot of concerns about...