Thomas Jefferson vs. Alexander Hamilton

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The conflict that took place in the 1790’s between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists made a huge impact on American History. Alexander Hamilton led the Federalists and focused mainly on the city businesses as well as manufacturing interests of the seaports. On the other side, the Anti-Federalists whom were led by Thomas Jefferson represented the rural farmers and southern interests. With the Federalists favoring more federal involvement and the anti-federalists advocating states rights, this debate between the two concerned the central government versus that of the states.

Alexander Hamilton, one of the most important people of the time, was the first Secretary of the Treasury. Utilizing federal power to modernize the nation, he convinced Congress to use an elastic interpretation of the Constitution to pass laws that Jefferson deemed unconstitutional. These laws included federal assumption of the state debts, creation of a national bank, and a system of taxes through a tariff on imports and a tax on whiskey. Hamilton was also the creator of the Federalist Party. In contrast, Thomas Jefferson was born to a wealthy family but was nonetheless an anti-federalist. He was sympathetic towards the poor people and advocated state’s rights.

Although Jefferson often showed a strong dislike for the Federalist laws and programs, when he took office he left many of the Federalist programs intact, and except for revoking the excise tax, the Hamiltonian system was mostly left as it was. However, this act of Jefferson’s went against many of the political beliefs held by his party and himself. Jefferson and Hamilton’s philosophies differed greatly in that Jefferson adhered to a weak central government, with most of the power in the hands of the states. He believed that the federal government’s power should be restrained and limited, so that it would not be able to become tyrannical or try and undermine the power of the states and the people. Also, Jefferson’s...
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