The Early Republic
Chapter 9: Washington Takes Office
I. Organizing the New Government
A. President Washington - George Washington was inaugurated, or took the oath of office, as President on April 30, 1789.
1. Setting an example
a) Precedent - is an act or decision that sets an example for others to follow. Ex. His refusal to seek a third term set a precedent that later Presidents followed until 1940.
2. The First Cabinet - The Constitution said little about how the executive branch should be organized. It was clear that the President would need help carrying out his duties. The first congress created five executive departments.
1. Department of State - Thomas Jefferson
2. Department of Treasury - Alexander Hamilton
3. Department of War - Henry Knox
4. Office of Attorney General - Edmund Randolph
5. Office of Postmaster General - Samuel Osgood
a) These department heads made up the President's cabinet.
3. The Federal Court System - The Constitution called for a Supreme Court. Congress had to organize a federal court system. In 1789, congress passed the Judiciary Act.
a) It called for the Supreme Court to have one Chief Justice (John Jay) and five Associate Justices
(Today it has 8).
b) It also set up district courts and circuit courts across the nation.
c) Decisions made in the lower courts could be appealed to the Supreme Court.
B. Hamilton and the National Debt - As secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton wanted to build a strong economy.
1. Government Bonds - During the Revolution, both the national government and the individual states needed money to pay soldiers to buy supplies.
a) A bond is a certificate that promises to repay the money loaned plus interest on a certain date.
b) National debt is the total sum of money the government owes.
2. Plan for repayment - Hamilton developed a plan to repay both the national and state debts (most southern states had paid off their debt).
a) He wanted to sell new bonds to pay off the old debts. Then, when the economy improved, he would pay off the new bonds.
C. Opposition to Hamilton's Plan
1. James Madison led the opposition - The plan was unfair because it would reward speculators.
a) A speculator is someone willing to invest in a risky venture in the hope of making a large profit.
b) Many bond holders needed cash to survive. They sold their bonds to speculators. They paid only 10 or 15 cents for bonds that had an original or face value of one dollar. If the government repaid the bonds at face value, speculators would make a fortune.
c) Hamilton felt that the government should repay its debt in full to gain the trust and help of investors.
d) Also, since many southern states had already repaid their debts, they thought other states should pay off their own debts.
2. Hamilton's Compromise - He offered to persuade his northern friends to vote for a capital in the South if southerners supported the repayment of state debts.
a) Madison and other southerners accepted this compromise.
b) The capital would not be part of any state. Instead it would be along the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia. Congress called this area the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.).
D. Strengthening the Economy
1. A National Bank- In 1791, Congress passed a bill setting up the Bank of the United States.
a) The government deposited money it collected in taxes in the bank. The bank, in turn, issued paper money. The government used the paper money to pay its bills.
b) It also made loans to farmers and businesses, helping them to expand.
2. Protecting the nation's industries - Hamilton also wanted to give American manufacturing a boost.
a) He proposed Congress pass a tariff, or tax, on all foreign goods brought into a country.
b) Because such a tariff would protect American industry from foreign competition, it was called a protective tariff.
c) In the end congress passed a tariff bill, but it was to raise money for the government, not to protect American industries (it was much lower than the tariff Hamilton had proposed).
E. The Whiskey Tax
1. In 1791, Congress taxed all liquor made and sold in the United States. Settlers in the backcountry exploded into anger.
a) Backcountry farmers grew corn. Because corn was hard to ship, they turned their corn into whiskey.
b) Backcountry farmers opposed the tax. They compared it with the hated taxes Britain had imposed on the colonies.
2. The Whiskey Rebellion - When tax collectors appeared in western Pennsylvania to enforce the new law, they faced angry farmers.
a) Mobs formed. Thousands of farmers marched through Pittsburgh. They sang revolutionary songs and tarred and feathered officials.
3. Government response - President Washington quickly responded to this challenge to authority.
a) He called up the militia in several states.
b) When the rebels heard the troops were coming, they scattered, the government's show of strength worked.
II. War Clouds
A. Upheaval in France - On July 14, a mob in Paris, France had destroyed the Bastille, a huge fort that was used as a prison. This marked the beginning of the French Revolution.
1. The French had many reasons to rebel against King Louis XVI.
a) Peasants and the middle class paid heavy taxes, while nobles pay none.
b) Reformers called for a constitution to limit the power of the king.
2. At first Americans supported the revolution
a) They knew what it meant to struggle for liberty.
b) Many felt that they should rally behind the Marquis de Lafayette, a leading French reformer. (Remember, he helped the Americans during the revolution)
3. During the 1790s, the French Revolution reached a very violent stage. A radical group gained power.
a) 1793 - they beheaded King Louis and his family.
b) "Reign of Terror" - tens of thousands of French citizens were executed.
4. Violence divides opinion.
a) Thomas Jefferson condemned the killings, but he still felt they had a right to use violence to win freedom.
b) Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and others thought that the revolution was doomed to fail.
B. A Policy of Neutrality
1. The war in Europe shocked rulers and nobles across Europe. They feared the revolutionary ideas would spread to their own land.
a) Britain, Austria, Prussia, the Netherlands, and Spain sent
troops to help overpower the revolutionaries.
2. The war in Europe threatened to involve the United States.
a) Washington issued the Neutrality Proclamation in April 1793. It stated that the U.S. would not support either side in the war.
C. An Unpopular Treaty
1. American merchants wanted to trade with both Britain and France. However, those warring nations ignored the rights of neutral ships.
a) 1793 - The British captured more than 250 American ships trading in the French West Indies.
b) Americans clamored for war but Washington felt the U.S. was too weak to fight.
c) He sent Chief Justice John Jay to Britain for talks.
2. Jay's Treaty - It called for Britain to pay for damages for American ships it had seized, but Americans had to pay debts to British merchants, owed from before the war. Britain agreed to give up forts it held in the Ohio Valley.
a) The treaty did not protect the rights of neutral American ships to trade where they wanted.
b) Many Americans felt they were giving up more than Britain was.
c) Washington accepted the treaty as a cause to avoid war.
D. War in the West
1. 1790s - Thousands of white settlers moved into the Northwest Territory and ignored treaties the United States had signed with the Indian nations of that region.
2. In 1791, the Miamis in Ohio joined with other Indian nations. Little Turtle, a skilled fighter, led them.
a) Armed with muskets and gunpowder supplied by the British, the Miamis drove white settlers from the area.
b) President Washington sent an army under General Arthur St. Clair to Ohio. The Miamis defeated them.
3. Battle of Fallen Timbers – General Anthony Wayne's forces pushed through and defeated the Indians.
a) Treaty of Greenville (1795) - The Miami and 11 other Indian nations agreed to give up land that would later be southern Ohio. In return they received $20,000.
E. Washington Retires
1. Washington had kept the nation out of war and set it on a path of growth. In 1796, he published his Farewell Address. In it he announced he would retire.
a) He urged that the United States remain neutral in relations with other countries.
b) He also called on Americans to avoid political parties.
c) During his years in office, rival groups had grown up around Hamilton and Jefferson.
III. Rise of Political Parties
A. A Distrust of Political Parties- Americans saw political parties as a threat to unity.
1. Despite the President's warning, parties grew up around two of his advisers: Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.
a) Hamilton - medium height and slender. Well dressed and well spoken.
b) Jefferson - tall and gawky, he dressed and spoke informally.
B. Differing Views
1. Manufacturing or farming
a) Hamilton- wanted government to encourage trade and manufacturing. He favored the growth of cities.
b) Jefferson - believed farmers were the backbone of the new nation. He feared manufacturing would corrupt the United States.
2. Federal or state governments
a) Hamilton - wanted the federal government to have more power than the state government.
b) Jefferson felt the opposite
3. Strict or loose interpretation (of the Constitution)? - The two leaders clashed over the Bank of the United States. Jefferson said that the law creating the Bank was unconstitutional, that is, not permitted by the Constitution.
a) Jefferson objected to the bank because he interpreted the Constitution very strictly. He thought that any power not specifically given to the federal government belonged to the states.
b) Hamilton Interpreted the Constitution more loosely. The Constitution gave Congress the power to make all laws "necessary and proper" to carry out its duties.
4. Britain or France? They had differing ideas about foreign policy.
a) Hamilton wanted to form close ties with Britain, an important trading partner.
b) Jefferson favored France, the first ally of the U.S. and a nation struggling for its own liberty.
C. Party Rivalry
1. Soon leaders in other states began to side with either Hamilton or Jefferson.
a) Jefferson's supporters called themselves Democratic Republicans, they often shortened the name to republicans. Included small farmers, craftworkers, and some wealthy planters. (Included James Madison, Aaron Burr, and George Clinton)
b) Hamilton and his supporters were called Federalists because they wanted a strong Federal Government. Were supported by merchants and manufacturers in cities, as well as some southern planters.
2. Newspapers begin to take sides. In the late 1700s, the number of American newspapers more than doubled - from 100 to 230. Newspaper publishers lined up behind the parties.
a) Gazette of the United States backed Alexander Hamilton
b) National Gazette supported Jefferson.
3. Newspapers had great influence on public opinion. Articles often mixed rumor with opinion and facts. Yet, they also kept people informed and helped shape public opinion.
D. A Slim Victory
1. Political parties played an important role in picking Washington's successor.
a) Republicans nominated Thomas Jefferson for President and Aaron Burr for Vice President.
b) Federalists supported John Adams for President and Thomas Pinckney for Vice President.
2. The election had an unexpected outcome. Under the constitution, the person with the most votes became the President. The person with the next highest total became the Vice President.
a) Johns Adams became President, and Jefferson Vice President.
b) Because the President and Vice President came from different political parties, tensions remained high.
IV. John Adams as President
A. The XYZ Affair - The French objected to Jay's Treaty with Britain.
1. In 1797, French ships began to seize American ships in the West Indies, as the British had done. Once again Americans called for war. Adams tried to avoid war by sending diplomats to Paris to discuss the rights of neutrals.
a) The French foreign minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand sent three secret agents to offer the Americans a deal. To begin the talks, he wanted $250,000 for himself, and a $10,000,000 loan to France.
b) The diplomats informed Adams of the bribe, he in turn told Congress. He did not reveal the names of the French agents, revealing them only as X, Y, and Z.
c) Americans were outraged. They refused to pay a bribe.
2. Adams avoids war -
a) He strengthened the American Navy.
b) Shipyards built frigates, fast sailing ships with many guns.
c) This show of strength convinced France to stop attacking American ships.
B. The Federalist Party splits
1. Hamilton criticized Adams peace policy. He hoped war would weaken Jefferson and the republicans. This disagreement caused a split in the Federalist Party.
a) Hamilton and his supporters were called High Federalists.
2. Over Hamilton's opposition, Adams sent diplomats back to France. This time, a young army officer named Napoleon Bonaparte was in charge. He was eager to expand his power in Europe, and did not have time for a war with the United States.
a) Napoleon signed the Convention of 1800 - France promised to stop seizing ships in the West Indies.
C. Alien and Sedition Acts
1. During the crisis with France, High Federalists pushed through several laws in Congress.
a) The Alien Act allowed the President to expel any alien or foreigner, thought to be dangerous to the government.
b) Another law made it harder for people to become citizens. Instead of waiting five years, they had to wait 14 years.
c) The Sedition Act - Sedition means stirring up rebellion against government. Citizens could be fined or jailed if they criticized the government or its officials.
D. The Rights of the States - Republicans protested the sedition act. They said it was unconstitutional. They did not turn to the Supreme Court.
1. Jefferson urged that the states had the right to nullify, or cancel, a law passed by the federal government.
a) Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions - claimed that each state has an equal right to judge for himself.
b) The Alien and Sedition Acts were eventually changed or dropped.
E. The Election of 1800
1. As the election approached, Republicans hoped to sweep the Federalists from office. They focused on two issues.
a) Republicans attacked Federalists for raising taxes to prepare for war.
b) They opposed the unpopular Alien and Sedition Acts.
c) They chose Thomas Jefferson to run for President and Aaron Burr for Vice President.
d) Adams was the Federalist candidate.
2. In the race for President, Republicans won. But when the Electoral College voted, Jefferson and Burr each received 73 votes. Under the Constitution, the House of Representatives decides on the election in case of a tie vote. The house was evenly split. It voted 35 times. Each time was a tie. Finally the tie was broken.
a) Jefferson became President and Burr became Vice President.
b) Twelfth Amendment (ratified in 1804) - It required voters to vote separately for President and Vice President.
3. Federalists lose favor - Jefferson's election marked the end of the Federalist era.
a) In 1804, Alexander Hamilton, was killed in a duel with Aaron Burr.