Theme:Led by Washington and Hamilton, the first administration under the Constitution overcame various difficulties and firmly established the political and economic foundations of the new federal government.
Theme: The cabinet debate over Hamilton’s financial measure expanded into a wider political conflict between Hamiltonian Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans—the first political parties in America.
Theme: The French Revolution created a severe ideological and political division over foreign policy between Federalists and Republicans. The foreign-policy crisis coincided with domestic political divisions that culminated in the bitter election of 1800, but in the end power passed peacefully from Federalists to Republicans.
The fledgling government faced considerable difficulties and skepticism about its durability, especially since traditional political theory held that large-scale republics were bound to fail. But President Washington brought credibility to the new government, while his cabinet, led by Alexander Hamilton, strengthened its political and economic foundations.
The government’s first achievements were the Bill of Rights and Hamilton’s financial system. Through effective leadership, Hamilton carried out his program of funding the national debt, assuming state debts, imposing customs and excise taxes, and establishing a Bank of the United States.
The bank was the most controversial part of Hamilton’s program because it raised basic constitutional issues. Opposition to the bank from Jefferson and his followers reflected more fundamental political disagreements about republicanism, economics, federal power, and foreign policy. As the French Revolution evolved from moderation to radicalism, it intensified the ideological divisions between the pro-French Jeffersonians and the pro-British Hamiltonians.
Washington’s Neutrality Proclamation angered Republicans, who wanted America to aid Revolutionary France. Washington’s policy was sorely tested by the British, who routinely violated American neutrality. In order to avoid war, Washington endorsed the conciliatory Jay’s Treaty, further outraging the Republicans and France.
After the humiliating XYZ affair, the United States came to the brink of war with France, but Adams sacrificed his political popularity and divided his party by negotiating peace.
These foreign-policy disagreements embittered domestic politics: Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, to which Jefferson and Madison responded with the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions.
I. Identify and state the historical significance of the following: