Name: _______________________________________ Social Studies Seven/PD: _____
Chapter Nine/Part One – The Fall of the Federalist Party
I. The Fall of the Federalist Party:
A. The Split of the Federalist Party and the Alien and Sedition Acts:
The Federalist Party, led by Alexander Hamilton, wanted a war with France in the belief that this would make the pro-French Democratic
Republicans look bad in the eyes of the American people. A war would also result in an increase in the size of the military, which would mean an increase in the power of the national government. All of these factors were major goals of the Federalist Party. When John Adams refused to declare war on France and sent a set of three new diplomats to France to negotiate a treaty, Hamilton and a part of the Federalist Party broke away and called themselves the “High Federalists.” In effect, Hamilton had split the Federalist Party.
Determined to weaken the massive popular support that the Democratic Republicans had with the people (especially immigrants from
France), Hamilton and his High Federalists created and pushed two new laws through Congress. The first law, known as the Alien Act, allowed the President to expel (kick out) any foreigner who was thought to be “a danger to the nation.” The law also raised the number of years an immigrant had to wait to become a citizen from five to fourteen years. Hamilton believed that this would eliminate many foreign born voters from the Election of 1800 and would weaken the Republicans.
A second law, known as the Sedition Act, was passed shortly after the Alien Act. Under the Sedition Act (sedition means to stir up a rebellion), a person could be fined or even jailed for criticizing certain government officials publicly. Within a short time, a number of anti-Federalist newspaper editors and Congressmen were thrown in jail. Hamilton and his supporters had designed a law to “silence” critics of the Federalist Party before the Election of 1800.
The new laws were enormously unpopular with the people and the Democratic-Republicans argued (correctly) that the laws violated freedom of the speech, press, and several other rights and liberties. Jefferson considered the laws to be a threat to the people, but could not gather enough support in Congress to overturn the laws. President Adams did not veto the laws, truly believing that there were enemy (French) spies in the nation and that he needed the laws to fight these foreign “threats.” In the end, the signing of the acts was John Adams worst mistake as President.
EFFECTS: The Alien and Sedition Acts did not have the effect that Hamilton and his High Federalist supporters had hoped for. In fact, the laws made the Federalists even more unpopular and virtually guaranteed that they would lose the Election of 1800 to the Democratic Republicans. The Federalists had taken an action to hurt their political opponents – and hurt the nation in the process. George Washington’s warnings about the dangers of political parties had come true.
B. The Democratic-Republicans Fight Back:
Thomas Jefferson felt that the Alien and Sedition Acts were a danger to the rights of the people and were a sign that the Federal Government
was becoming too powerful. He wished to fight the acts, but knew that the Democratic Republicans did not have quite enough votes in Congress to strike down the new laws. Jefferson also knew that fighting the laws in the Federal (national) Courts would fail. The Federal Courts were full of judges appointed by both President’s Washington and Adams – and most of these men were Federalists who supported the laws.
Instead, Jefferson and his friend James Madison worked with the States of Virginia and Kentucky to create two “resolutions” or statements that were passed by their state legislatures. The resolutions, later known as the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, claimed that every state had the right to decide whether a law was constitutional or unconstitutional and could “nullify,” or cancel, any federal law within state borders. Jefferson hoped that other states would follow the lead of Virginia and Kentucky and nullify (cancel) the Alien and Sedition Acts (or at least ignore them).
The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions was an offshoot of Jefferson’s belief in strict interpretation of the Constitution. In other words, the resolutions claimed that the Federal Government only had those powers that were directly listed to it in the Constitution and all other powers belonged to the states. The Constitution did not say that the Federal Government could declare a law unconstitutional. Therefore, Jefferson claimed that the states had the power to declare Federal laws unconstitutional. The resolutions were never officially used or acted on – within a few years, the Alien and Sedition Acts were changed by Congress and were no longer a threat.
EFFECTS: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions was only a sign of a much larger issue that had been under debate since the Constitutional Convention was voted on by the 13 states: would the Federal or the State Governments be more powerful? Federalists argued that a powerful Federal Government that could force the states to act was the only way to prevent a weak and ineffective government.
Republicans (especially in the Southern States) argued that the only way to protect rights from an overly powerful national government was to make the State Governments more powerful – an idea that came to be called States’ Rights. States’ Rights never truly went away until the Civil War was over. The issue would cause many bitter fights in Congress, a near civil war in the 1830’s, and became one of the reasons for the Southern States leaving the United States in 1861. Unwittingly, Jefferson had created one of the causes for the Civil War of the 1860’s through his attempt to fight laws that he correctly believed to be unconstitutional.
C. The Election of 1800:
John Adams had little doubt about how he would do in the Election of 1800 – he knew that he would most likely lose to Thomas
Jefferson. The mood of the nation had changed a great deal since 1796. Political Parties were a part of American politics and the Democratic Republicans were much more popular than the Federalists. The majority of the people (common Americans) disliked the fact that Federalists believed that only the wealthy and well educated should lead the nation. Federalist policies also supported business, trade, and manufacturing – representing a small portion of the nation’s population.
Federalist attempts to start a war with France and to pass the Alien and Sedition Acts had backfired on them. Taxes raised to increase the size of the military were very unpopular and angry feelings against France were fading away. Adams went into the election with a split party only to face a strongly united Republican Party. The Republican strategy of attacking the Federalists for passing the Alien and Sedition Acts and for raising taxes made the election a fairly easy victory for Jefferson and his running mate - Aaron Burr of New York.
Winning the popular vote was the easy part for Jefferson, winning the electoral vote was another matter entirely. The House of Electors gave both Jefferson and Burr 73 votes apiece and could not clearly choose a winner (at that time, electors still voted separately for President and Vice President). Under the rules of the Constitution, Congress had to break the tie by holding a vote in the House of Representatives. It took four days and 36 votes in the House to break the tie – making Jefferson President by one vote over Aaron Burr, who became Vice President. With the passage of the Twelfth Amendment, this situation was prevented and has never occurred again. The Electoral College now casts votes for a President and his running mate (Vice President).
EFFECTS: The Election of 1800 had several important effects. Jefferson’s victory was a sign that the people of the United States were no longer willing to sit back and allow their “betters” to run the nation in their name. Common Americans wanted to participate in government and they believed that the Republicans would make this possible. Jefferson was the champion of the “common man.” In addition, the election gave the Republicans a true majority in both houses of Congress. A majority of his own party members in Congress gave Jefferson the ability to carry out laws and policies without serious opposition.
Two other important effects came out of the Election of 1800. The Federalist Party began to decline in power and never won control of Congress or the Presidency again. Finally, the election proved something to the American people and the world. Americans could switch power from one party to another without war and bloodshed. The peaceful transfer of power from one group to another became an example that has been followed in every election since 1800.
1. How did the Alien and Sedition Acts harm the party that created them – the Federalist Party?
2. What did the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions claimed that every state had a right to do?
3. The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions was a sign of which “larger issue?
4. What did the Election of 1800 give the Republicans (two major advantages)?
5. What did the Election of 1800 proved to America and the world?
Name: ___________________________________ Social Studies Seven/PD: _____
Chapter Nine/Part Two – A New Style of Government in 1800
II. A New Style of Government in 1800
A. Easing Fears and Changes in the Federal Government:
The Election of 1800 had been bitter and hard-fought. Jefferson and the Republicans won the support of common Americans while the
Federalists continued to enjoy the support of the wealthy and well-educated classes. Federalists feared that the change of power from the Federalist Party to the Republican Party meant that the “mob” (what Federalists tended to call common, poorly educated Americans) would take over and destroy the nation that they (the Federalists) had so carefully built from 1789-1800. They also worried that the man who supported the French Revolution and opposed the adoption of the Constitution had become President.
Thomas Jefferson, as a Republican, did announce in his first speech that the government would become more democratic (attempt to make certain that all people had the same rights), but that the Federalists had little to worry about. He reassured them that they had a right to participate in government and that they would not be persecuted (punished) for their views. In his opinion, the minority (weaker political party) had an equal right to speak out and should be protected by the law. He also told Federalists that he had no intentions of changing or ignoring the Constitution while he was President. Finally, the new President claimed that “We are all Federalists, we are all Republicans.”
EFFECT: Jefferson proved that the United States could transfer the power of the government from one political party to another without violence and bloodshed and that the Federal Government (as created by the Constitution) was in no danger of collapse. His speech assured (promised) Americans that all members of government had the right to express their opinions and fight for what they believed in without fear of persecution or imprisonment. His claim that “We are all Federalists, we are all Republicans” was a message – we are all Americans.
B. Jefferson Changes the Government:
There were many differences between Jefferson and the Presidents (Washington and Adams) who went before him. He stayed at a simple
boarding house rather than an expensive hotel on the day that he was sworn in as President. The ceremony itself was very plain – he walked to the Capitol Building, gave a short speech, and walked back to his boardinghouse for a quick dinner. Jefferson wanted the Presidency to reflect the customs of common Americans. He believed that the government should serve common Americans or “the people.” Even as President, Jefferson held few parties and greeted people by shaking hands – not the more formal bow that Washington and Adams had used.
Although Jefferson did keep many Federalist employees in government positions, he had every intention of changing a number of Federalist policies that he disagreed with. The Federalist had created the National Bank, and many Federalist Judges had been appointed to the Judicial Branch. President Jefferson, unlike the Federalists, wanted government to be as simple and inexpensive as possible and uninvolved in the economy. He called this policy “Laissez Faire” after the old French term meaning to “let alone”.
In addition, Jefferson believed in an economic theory created by Scottish economist Adam Smith that was known as the “Free Market” Theory. In other words, goods and services should be exchanged without regulation (government control) and free competition should be the standard rule. This policy fit in quite well with Jefferson’s “Laissez Faire” approach to government. Under Jefferson, the Federal Government would not use its funds or power to directly promote business, banking, or trade.
Jefferson wanted to take immediate steps to reduce the size, power, cost, and debt of the Federal Government. As a result, he decided to:
- Convince Congress to repeal the Whiskey Tax and stop using the Alien and Sedition Acts
- Fire all federal tax collectors
- Cut the size of the Federal Government and its spending by reducing the Army from 4,000 to 2,500 men and also cut shipbuilding
- Cut the size of Federal offices by reducing the number of people employed in them
The new President worked closely with his Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, to reduce the size of the Federal Budget (the amount of
money it takes to run the government) and to pay off the national debt. In Jefferson’s mind, reducing the size of the government and the military was a major step towards reducing the Federal Budget. Secretary of the Treasury Gallatin did convince Jefferson to keep the Bank of the U.S. in operation as a useful economic tool. Over time, Jefferson grudgingly admitted that he had been wrong about the Bank of the United States.
EFFECTS: Jefferson allowed the states to have more power and lessened the power of the Federal Government. The memory of the power of Great Britain’s Government was still very fresh in the mind of Thomas Jefferson. He wanted to reduce the chance that the U.S. Government would become so powerful that it would abuse the rights of the people, take away freedoms, and become corrupt.
Jefferson was also deeply concerned about the money that the United States owed to other nations and wanted to have it completely paid off by the time that he left office. Jefferson’s policies, however, carried a price tag of another kind. The reduction in size of the military weakened the United States and left it unprepared to handle a military crisis. The United States continued to find itself in the position of being a weak and poor nation that could not afford to become involved in a major conflict.
C. Jefferson’s Fails to Change the Judicial Branch or the Bank of the U.S.:
Although the Republicans won control of the Presidency and the Legislative Branch (Congress), they were unable to make any
changes in the Judicial Branch (Federal Courts). Once appointed, Federal Judges may not be removed unless they commit a crime, resign, or pass away. Washington and Adams had appointed nearly every Federal Judge and most of these judges were Federalists.
One judge in particular, Chief Justice John Marshall of the Supreme Court, was a Federalist who was determined to increase the power of the Federal (national) Government. Marshall and Jefferson often opposed each other’s policies and ideas. During Jefferson’s eight years in office, Chief Justice Marshall often stood in the way of Jefferson’s plans and protected the power of the Federal Government. The Judicial Branch was the one branch of the national government that remained strongly “Federalist.”
D. Marbury v. Madison 1803 Sets an Important Precedent:
Before President Adams left office, he created a number of new Federal Courts and appointed Federalists as judges on the new
courts. The Jefferson Administration, however, never delivered some of the appointments left behind by Adams. One of the men who did not receive his letter of appointment sued the Secretary of State, James Madison, in an attempt to make him hand over his appointment. The man’s name was William Marbury.
Under the Judiciary Act of 1789 (a law passed by Congress to set up the court system), the case was sent to the Supreme Court automatically as it involved a federal official. In deciding the case, the Supreme Court rejected the idea that the Judiciary Act of 1789 could give it the power to decide cases against federal officials – claiming that such power was unconstitutional (the Constitution did not give the Supreme Court the power to try cases against federal officials).
Therefore, argued Chief Justice Marshall, Congress did not have the right to give the Supreme Court powers through laws such as the Judiciary Act. The Judiciary Acts was ruled “unconstitutional” and the Supreme Court would not make a decision on Marbury’s case.
EFFECT: Marbury v. Madison guaranteed that the Supreme Court had the power of Judicial Review or the right to declare any federal or state law constitutional or unconstitutional. The case gave the Court the power to protect itself against any attempts to weaken it by Congress or the Presidency. John Marshall had managed to protect the “Federalist” Judicial Branch and guaranteed that Federalist beliefs would still have a place in the National Government.
The decision, however, tormented (deeply bothered) Jefferson, who believed that it made the Judicial Branch far too powerful. Jefferson never did have any success in changing the power or the policies of the Judicial Branch. Chief Justice Marshall was there to block every attempt Jefferson made to alter the power of the Supreme Court. Most of the Federalist judges who had been appointed by Washington and Adams simply outlasted Jefferson and Jefferson was able to do little to change the Federalist nature of the Judicial Branch.
President Thomas Secretary of State James Madison Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin John Marshall