College of Arts and Sciences
Primary Subject Area
History, United States
Federalists, Jefferson, Hamilton, Jeffersonians, Hamiltonians, Early Republic, Constitution, Bank of the United States, National Bank
Intellectual History | Political History | United States History
During the early years of the American Republic known as the Federalist Era (1787-1800), a conflict arose which led to America’s first formal political parties and the formation of the two-party system. The parties’ disagreements, characterized most succinctly by the exchanges between the two party leaders, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, involved some of the most basic ideology of the American experiment. The conflicts of the Jeffersonian Republicans and the Hamiltonian Federalists set the precedent of the nature of the political atmosphere of the United States to this day.
This thesis examines the basic viewpoint of the two parties in their stand on key issues, the private and public writings of their leaders, and the history of ideas that influenced party ideology. The aim of this thesis is to show from these sources that the underlying difference between the Jeffersonians and Hamiltonians, the most essential ideology that divided them, lay in their philosophy of the common man and his trustworthiness to govern himself in a republic.