Dividing into Parties
A POLITICAL PARTY is a group of people with
similar ideas and beliefs about government.
The young UNITED STATES soon divided into TWO
political parties. Those who favored a strong federal
government were known as the FEDERALISTS.
This group was led by ALEXANDER HAMILTON.
Those who favored great power for the citizens and
states were known as DEMOCRATIC-
REPUBLICANS. The group’s leaders were THOMAS
JEFFERSON and JAMES MADISON.
Conflicting Party Viewpoints
FEDERALISTS represented mainly the interests of WEALTHY
Americans. Much of their support was found in the LARGE
CITIES OF THE NORTHEAST.
The FEDERALISTS wanted to interpret the Constitution to
give the federal government more power. This is called
following a LOOSE CONSTRUCTION of the Constitution.
DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICANS favored the interests of
ARTISANS AND SMALL FARMERS. They drew much of their
support from the SOUTH.
DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICANS believed in limiting the
authority of the federal government to the powers specifically
granted to it in the Constitution. This is called a STRICT
CONSTRUCTION of the Constitution.
The political parties used various means to convey their
viewpoints, including SPONSORING NEWSPAPERS that
followed their viewpoints.
Politics Dominate the Election of 1796
For the first time, POLITICAL PARTIES chose the
candidates for the presidential election of 1796. The
FEDERALISTS supported JOHN ADAMS for
President. The DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICANS
backed THOMAS JEFFERSON.
JOHN ADAMS received the highest number of
electoral votes and became President. THOMAS
JEFFERSON, who received the second-highest
number of votes, became VICE PRESIDENT.
This outcome meant the President and Vice
President were from OPPOSING political parties.