The New Nation The First political parties


  • Summarize the major policies and political developments that took place during the presidencies of George Washington (1789-1797), John Adams (1797-1801), and Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809).
  1. the origins of the Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties in the 1790s
  2. the conflicting ideas of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton
  3. the Alien and Sedition Acts
  4. the Louisiana Purchase
The New Political Parties-Federalists v. Democratic-Republicans- Section 1

Democratic-Republican Party, originally (1792–98) Republican Party or Anti-federalists, was the first opposition political party in the United States. Organized in 1792 as the Republican Party, its members held power nationally between 1801 and 1825. It is the ancestor of the present day Democratic Party.

  • During the two administrations of President George Washington (1789–97), many former Anti-Federalists—who had resisted adoption of the new federal Constitution (1787)—began to unite against a program focused on getting more money in the country by Alexander Hamilton, secretary of the treasury .
  • After Hamilton and other supporters of a strong central government and a loose interpretation of the Constitution formed the Federalist Party in 1791, those who favored states’ rights and a strict interpretation of the Constitution rallied under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson, who had served as Washington’s first secretary of state.
  • Jefferson’s supporters, deeply influenced by the ideals of the French Revolution (1789), first adopted the name Republican to emphasize their anti-monarchical views. The Republicans contended that the Federalists harbored aristocratic attitudes and that their policies placed too much power in the central government and tended to benefit the affluent at the expense of the common man.
  • Although the Federalists soon branded Jefferson’s followers “Democratic-Republicans,” attempting to link them with the problems of the French Revolution, the Republicans officially adopted the label in 1798. The Republican coalition supported France in the European war that broke out in 1792, while the Federalists supported Britain. The Republicans’ opposition to Britain unified the faction through the 1790s and inspired them to fight against the Federalist-sponsored Jay Treaty (1794) and the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798).
  • Jefferson narrowly defeated the Federalist John Adams in the election of 1800; his victory demonstrated that power could be transferred peacefully between parties under the Constitution. Once in office, the Democratic-Republicans attempted to scale back Federalist programs but actually overturned few of the institutions they had criticized (e.g., the Bank of the United States was retained until its charter expired in 1811).
  • Nevertheless, Jefferson made a genuine effort to make his administration appear more democratic and egalitarian: he walked to the Capitol for his inauguration rather than ride in a coach-and-six, and he sent his annual message to Congress by messenger, rather than reading it personally. Federal excises were repealed, the national debt was retired, and the size of the armed forces was greatly reduced. However, the demands of foreign relations (such as the Louisiana Purchase in 1803) often forced Jefferson and his successors into a nationalistic stance reminiscent of the Federalists.
Alien and Sedition Acts 1798-Section 2
Political Cartoons of the Alien and Sedition Acts
  • The Alien and Sedition Acts were four laws passed by the United States Congress in 1798. At the time war with France seemed likely, and the laws were passed in preparation for the war. The administration of President John Adams wanted to restrict the press from being too critical of the government and to control aliens, or citizens of a foreign country living in the United States.
  • Three of these new laws were aimed at aliens, mostly French and Irish immigrants. These laws raised the waiting period to become a citizen from 5 years to 14 years, allowed the citizens of an enemy country to be imprisoned or deported (thrown out of the country) during wartime, and said that the president could deport any alien he considered dangerous. The Sedition Act banned the publishing of false or malicious writings about the U.S. government.
  • Overall, the public was outraged at these laws. In protest, the legislatures of Virginia and Kentucky passed what are known as the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions. The documents were written by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. They declared that the states had the power to decide if a national law was valid. Congress repealed one of the laws in 1802, and two others were allowed to expire. The law that allows citizens of enemy countries to be imprisoned or deported during wartime is still in effect today.
The Louisiana Purchase-Section 3

In 1803 the area of the United States was much smaller than it is today. In that year, however, the country bought the Louisiana Territory from France. The territory stretched from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, and from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States.

Historical Background

  • A French explorer named La Salle had claimed Louisiana for France in 1682. He named the territory after the French king Louis XIV. It originally included land on both sides of the Mississippi River.
  • In 1762 France gave the part of Louisiana west of the Mississippi to Spain. The rest they gave to Great Britain. It became part of the United States after the American Revolution. In the late 1700s settlers from the eastern part of the United States started moving into the area. Spain allowed them to use the Mississippi River and the port city of New Orleans, near the river’s mouth.
  • In 1801 the powerful French leader Napoleon got the territory back. This worried the U.S. settlers. They were afraid that France might try to interfere with traffic on the river.
  • President Thomas Jefferson first tried to buy just New Orleans. Napoleon ignored him until Jefferson threatened to join forces with Great Britain, France’s worst enemy. Napoleon also needed money to pay for the many wars he was fighting. For these reasons, he offered to sell the entire Louisiana Territory. The price was about $15 million. This amounted to only three cents per acre.
  • The Louisiana Purchase added 828,000 square miles (2,144,520 square kilometers) to the United States. In 1804 the Lewis and Clark Expedition set out to explore the new territory. The expedition lasted two years and provided much information about the land, plants, animals, and people of the western lands. The country eventually carved 13 states, either in whole or in part, from the Louisiana Territory. These states were Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Created By
Pedro Menino


Created with images by cliff1066™ - "Alexander Hamilton" • Yale Law Library - "HU F31 1788" • Political Graveyard - "Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804)" • woodleywonderworks - "Department of Treasury Seal" • cliff1066™ - "Henry Laurens" • cliff1066™ - "Thomas Jefferson (The Edgehill Portrait), Third President (1801-1809)" • Reading Tom - "The Cabildo" • Jason Riedy - "Lafayette Square"

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