Larry DeWitt

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How Politics Evolved in the USA

abraham-lincoln-716182_640In the 1790s the city of Philadelphia emerged as the cradle of politics just like it has been known as the cradle of liberty in America. At this time it was the capital of the fledgling nation. It began with the unanimous choosing of George Washington as the first president of the US serving between 1732 and 1739. This ended the bipartisan rancor brought about by Alexander Hamilton’s economic policies that strained relationship with France and divided the country into two distinct political parties. This bipartisan issue was not however caused by the creation and presence of the federal government; it had been in existence at lower levels with political factions and serious rivalries at the local level for several years. It only got exacerbated by the serious fight that emerged at the national level.

In the first decade of the nation, there existed two factions, those who supported the new US constitution called the federalist and the anti-federalists who opposed. The anti-federalists became the Democratic Party (also styled as the Jeffersonians after Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. They opposed the central government and their policies styled to favor the rich. The Hamilton’s Federalists favored close ties with the colonial Britain whereas Jeffersonians favored close ties with France and the French Revolution. The elections that year saw many elected into the US House of Representatives majorly favoring the nascent party. This went on to help the anti-federalist in Philadelphia who had formed the Pennsylvania Democratic Society in getting in the right elected official to oppose the whisky excise tax of 1794 and repeal it as it was hurting the local farmers. This society went on to form the framework of the opposition party at the end of that decade marking the start of how politics evolved in the USA.

Later, the Republican faction emerged to oppose the constitution against the Constitutionalist who has deviated from the spirit of the US constitution. The battle lines had been drawn and the Federalists and Republicans waged serious political war in the media with national newspapers being swayed along party lines. This was seen when the federalists made their bidding in the Gazette of the United States originating in New York in 1789 and moved one year later with the government to Philadelphia. The Jeffersonians made their counter with the National Gazette and the Aurora, edited by Benjamin Franklin Bache, the grandson of Benjamin Franklin.

What widened the gap further was the signing of the Jay Treaty between US and Britain in 1794. This treaty prevented war between the two countries though the Jeffersonians criticized this treaty very severely as it represented a capitulation to Britain. This treaty made major gains to the Jeffersonians Republicans especially with the seeds planted by the Democratic Societies earlier on. This was fueled by the fact that this treaty failed to address important issues like the British practice of seizing American ships and imprisonment of the seamen. By 1796, this republican movement has crystallized into a political party. This saw the emergence of two strong factions, Hamilton’s Federalists who had taken control of the government reins in Pennsylvania and the Republicans who were the “have-nots” who were disillusioned by the rampant foreclosure of their farms by the Federalists policies of Hamilton and this is how politics evolved in the USA.