Hamilton vs. Jefferson: Political Philosophies of the 1800s

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Hamilton vs. Jefferson: Political Philosophies of the 1800s

By | October 2012
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Two competing political philosophies have always existed throughout the United States’ relatively short history: one seeking to increase the power of the central government, and one seeking to decrease it. During the 1800s these two conflicting philosophies were acted out by the Federalist and the Democratic Republican parties, respectively. The Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, advocated the importance of a strong central government in leading the country forward, while the Democratic Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson, promoted increasing the common man’s role in government. Although both political parties had good intentions for the future of the United States, the Federalist Party was much more effective at uniting the American people, avoiding domestic faction, and keeping the best interests in mind for the future of the United States. The early 1800s were a difficult time for the American people; they had just won their independence from Britain hardly more than twenty or thirty years prior, and the threat of failure still loomed large. The Federalist Party sought to destroy the threat of failure by strengthening the United States’ central government. As Alexander Hamilton said, “A firm Union will be of the utmost moment to the peace and liberty of the states, as a barrier against domestic faction and insurrection.” In Hamilton’s mind, strengthening the central government would ensure freedom for every American citizen by uniting the people to think and speak with a single voice. Hamilton had witnessed firsthand the political and economic confusion caused by states’ conflicting interests and corrupt taxation policies under the Articles of Confederation. He realized that the only way for the Union to survive and prosper was for the Federal government to take control of the country’s political and economic decision-making. With a strong Federal power in place, troublesome interstate conflicts could be solved swiftly and decisively, before they gained...
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