AP US History
1998 DBQ AP Essay
The origins of the Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties can be traced back to the early 1790s. Initially, the Federalists, or broad constructionists, favored the growth of federal power and a strong central government. The Federalists promulgated a loose interpretation of the Constitution, which meant that they believed that the government could do anything by the implied powers of the Constitution. On the contrary, the Democratic-Republicans favored the protection of states’ rights and the strict containment of federal power. The Democratic-Republicans were strict constructionists and they believed only in the enumerated powers of the Constitution. Up until 1800, these descriptions of the two political parties were very accurate. However, the Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe presidencies reveal that these characterizations were accurate only to a certain extent. However, it is important to note that these characterizations were only inaccurate mainly because of the presidencies themselves. During their presidencies, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe were forced to compromise their political views in the face of war, economic pressure, and threats to the Union. Therefore, these labels can only be considered true to a certain extent.
The Election of 1800 or “The Bloodless Revolution” marked a watershed in U.S. history. This non-violent transfer of power from the Federalists to President Thomas Jefferson and his Democratic-Republican party signified a fundamental change in U.S. politics. In the beginning of his first term as president, Jefferson made it clear that he would do anything to uphold the Republican principles he held dear in his heart. Jefferson believed that the preservation of the Constitution was essential if Americans wanted to live in a “harmonious and solid country.” Unlike the...
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