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Evaluate the Relative Importance of Domestic and Foreign Affairs in Shaping American Politics in the 1790's

By amandaakaye Jan 10, 2012 671 Words
Evaluate the relative importance of domestic and foreign affairs in shaping American politics in the 1790's
The American politics and policy were shaped by both domestic and foreign affairs during the 1790’s, though most of the influence came from domestic affairs. During the run of President Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton faced off because of their opposing views of what the government should be like. Hamilton wanted to shape new policies that would improve the economy, but Jefferson felt that one must adhere to anything that the constitution said; strict construction compared to Hamilton’s loose construction. Also, foreign affairs, such as new policies appearing due to the French Revolution and conflicts with Spain became a driving force for shaping American politics. It became very apparent that these affairs had been factors for America’s political success.

When Washington was elected as the President in the 1790’s, Alexander Hamilton followed with him. He was soon an influence in most to all domestic affairs, and he used his role as Secretary of Treasury to put in place any plan that he felt was necessary, even if it was controversial. The positive of his plans were that they repaid the debt the United States had collected, but they caused great tension between the North and South. His plan to form a national bank did not sit well with the citizens in America, and it fared even worse with the government leaders. This event seems to be the defining moment that began a split-party government. These two new parties that arose were the Federalist and the Jeffersonian Republicans. They each had different views concerning the Constitution; the Federalist, like Alexander Hamilton, taking the loose construction, and the Jeffersonian Republicans, like Thomas Jefferson, taking the strict construction. The economic changes that were put into place by Hamilton caused many rebellions by the American citizens, and made the government learn the most effective ways to enforce their power of them. This gave the government confidence in their ability to handle their people better than they had years earlier, and they were able to assert their dominance in other forms. The United States domestic affairs escalated as more threatening foreign affairs were on the horizon.

The beginning and duration of the French Revolution caused much turmoil in France, but it soon began to affect the United States as well. Tensions between France and America grew so much that war could very well be in the future. Jay’s treaty was an attempt to reconstruct the relationship between the two countries, but along with the XYZ affair, it was also unsuccessful and made the issues even worse. John Adams was now President, and in trying to fix foreign and domestic affairs, institutionalized the Alien and Sedition Acts. This had a great affect on the on foreign and domestic affairs, because the government was now able to determine to position of people in their society. This new act led to the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, which were domestic affairs that stated the nullification of such laws as the Alien and Sedition Acts was necessary and recommended because it was unconstitutional. The foreign affairs that were taking place between America and Spain were also affecting the politics in America. The Treaty of Sal Lorenzo gave America absolute enforcement of the boundaries and it gave them access to the Mississippi River. These foreign affairs helped to affect the American politics in that time, and for future generations.

Foreign affairs such as policies coming about due to the French Revolution and a strained relationship with Spain affected the shaping of American politics, but domestic affairs seem to have affected them more. The conflicts between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton caused many changes in America that are still in place today, and their conflicts are ones that our two parties still face. Though, the government has had much experience in dealing with these problems, and now they can be handled differently than they were in the past.

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