Throughout the late 18th century and early 19th century, two coexisting political parties rendered distinct ideals amongst the people in hopes of prevailing and henceforth gaining the majority of the nation as their party enters office. The two political parties were known as the Jeffersonian Republicans and the Federalists. The Jeffersonian Republican party was created by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and it centered around a strict interpretation of the constitution and focused on achieving democracy through the idea of rendering the states more power than the federal government. In contrast the Federalist party was created by Alexander Hamilton and it was based on a loose interpretation of the constitution and focused on republicanism in which the federal government had a vast amount of power henceforth controlling the states.
Although the Jeffersonian Republican party was initially constructed with ideas directly opposing Alexander Hamilton’s ideas, the Jeffersonian Republican party would later be largely influenced by Hamilton’s political ideas as problems arose.Thomas Jefferson, one of the creators of the Jeffersonian Republican party, initially strongly believed in a strict interpretation of the constitution. For instance, Jefferson opposed a national bank in 1971 because it was not written in the constitution and according to his beliefs anything not written in the constitution should not be delegated by the nation (Doc 1). This is significant because it shows how strongly Jefferson believed in a strict interpretation of the constitution, so much as to quote the tenth amendment when opposing the creation of a national bank.
In contrast to Jefferson’s opposition of a national bank, Alexander hamilton was the man who had the idea of creating a national bank because he believed national debt would render unity for the nation. Alongside the national bank, Jefferson also opposed diplomatic agencies and inspectors of internal revenues who intervened with the accountability of the institution therefore, taking the liberty to decrease their expenses (Doc 2). This is significant because it once more directly contradicted Hamilton’s ideas as he wanted diplomatic agents in all courts where they had important relations. Even so, at the time, Jefferson’s audience was Congress as he was delivering his Annual Message which is significant because he had just been pronounced president earlier that year in 1801. Therefore, he wanted to present congress with some of his ideas so that he could begin implementing his beliefs on the nation in turn minimizing the federal government’s power by cutting diplomatic agencies. The contrasting beliefs between Jefferson and Hamilton are significant because it shows how differently they viewed the nation henceforth creating a distinct separation in their parties. Although the Jeffersonian Republican party began strictly based on what the constitution stated was viable, as time went by the party evolved gaining some of Hamilton’s ideas. For instance, during Jefferson’s presidency he declared war on Tripolitan pirates without consulting congress (Doc 3).
This is significant because consulting congress is a major Jeffersonian belief since it is part of the constitution. It also went against a core belief of Democratic Republicanism by the Whig Theory, “standing armies in times of peace are dangerous and unnecessary”. However, Jefferson did not want to debate on the matter for weeks so instead he took the liberty to send troops and withheld telling congress until it was too late to retrieve the troops. This act was not only Hamiltonian but strictly went against what he believed as a person. He had previously strongly lived by the saying “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute!” after the XYZ affair.
However, he turned his back on his beliefs realizing his ideas would not work and declared war. Another aspect in which the Jeffersonian Republican party inherited from Hamilton’s ideas was the upbringing of tariffs. For instance, John Randolph, a Virginia Jeffersonian Republican Congressman, claims that the government has turned Republican due to the implementation of the 1816 tariff bill (Doc 5). This is significant because the 1816 tariff is a protective tariff for US manufactured items from overseas competition and unlike Jeffersonians, Hamiltonians believed in increasing tariffs. Randolph even compares the current government to the one in John Adams’ presidency which consisted of Federalist ideals. The fact that Randolph’s audience is Congress is significant because it shows that he truly believes that the government’s principle is “old Federalism” and is therefore, trying to sway Congress into seeing his point of view in hopes of changing the government into a more democratic one by stating the absurdity of the 1816 tariff. Not only did tariffs begin to rise, but the belief of internal improvements with the help of the federal government arose amongst Jeffersonian Republicans.
For instance, John Calhoun, a Jeffersonian Republican congressman from South Carolina, presented a speech to Congress stating that internal improvements are needed to improve the nation and many of them are too big to be left to the states and therefore, the national government should take part in completing them by providing resources (Doc 6). This is significant because internal improvements with the help of the national government was one of the core ideas of The American System written by Henry Clay which was based on Alexander Hamilton’s ideals. The American System consisted of protective tariffs, a national bank, and internal improvements which were all ideas initially opposed by Jeffersonians. Therefore, the point of view is significant because an initial Jeffersonian Republican would not have presented this idea to congress however, John Calhoun presented Hamilton’s idea of internal improvements to congress as a means to enhance the nation. Also years later in 1823, James Monroe, a Democratic Republican, states in his Seventh Annual Message to Congress that the political parties in the US should be left to themselves even though outside parties from other countries are bound to interfere with their peace and happiness (Doc 7). This is significant because it shows how even though the nation has become more united through the evolution of parties, it is still lacking unity compared to other countries. Therefore, Monroe realizes that the nation cannot handle the strength of other countries’ parties such as Spain and even so, it is a United States policy to let the parties fend for themselves in hopes of retaining peace. The fact that his audience was Congress is significant because it shows how important he feels the matter was and how he truly believes that letting the parties be was the best thing to do.
This shows the evolution of the Jeffersonian Republican party as it has consumed many aspects of Hamilton’s Federalist party. In all, the Jeffersonian Republicans were majorly impacted by Hamilton’s ideas because the strict interpretation of the constitution was too extreme for some situations such as the Tripolitan war in which Jefferson himself violated the ideal. Not only did the Jeffersonians consume the tariffs but internal improvements with the national government’s support as well.
The Jeffersonian Republican party slowly evolved in the sense that the Jeffersonians were beginning to use ideas which centered around the loose interpretation of the constitution completely violating their initial beliefs, but resulting in a stronger more united nation at least for the time being. Therefore, Alexander Hamilton’s ideas were very influential in the progression of the Jeffersonian Republican party.