The New International Encyclopædia/Federalists

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Edition of 1905.  See also Federalist Party on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

FEDERALISTS. In American history, the name given to those who in 1787 and 1788 advocated the adoption of the new Constitution of the United States, and who later contended, for the most part, for a liberal construction of the Constitution and the establishment of a strong National Government. In the end Washington undoubtedly favored their views; but Hamilton, with his plans for a national bank, a sinking fund, the assumption of State debts, and the encouragement of manufactures, was the real leader of the Federalists, while Jay, John Adams, Gouverneur Morris, Ames, and later Marshall were prominent members of the party. The Federalists were conservative in their belief in popular government, and had little sympathy with the French Revolution, being upon these two, as upon other points, opposed by the strict constructionists under the leadership of Jefferson and Madison, known as the Republicans, or Democratic Republicans. (See Democratic Party.) The Federalists controlled the first three administrations—those of Washington and of John Adams—but the party was disrupted by factional controversies during Adams's Administration, and was overthrown by the Republican victory of 1800, which placed Jefferson in the Presidential chair. Their candidates for President from 1804 to 1816 received scarcely any support outside of New England, and in 1820 no Federalist nomination was made. During these years the party was kept alive in New England by those who had opposed Adams's Administration, and who formed the most aristocratic and pro-English faction. (See Essex Junto.) Their opposition to the Embargo and kindred measures, and to the War of 1812, culminated in the Hartford Convention (q.v.) in 1814. The convention was immeasurably denounced, and was fatal to the little life still left in the Federalist Party. One of the last appointments of President Adams was that of John Marshall as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and during his tenure of that office Marshall succeeded in stamping indelibly upon the Constitution the best portions of the Federalist doctrine. Moreover, the Democrats in power gradually became scarcely less liberal in their interpretation of the Constitution than the Federalists had been before them; and while in 1798 the Federalists denounced the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions (q.v.) passed by the Democrats in favor of State's rights, in 1814 the Federalists were vigorously opposed to any extension of the authority of the central Government, while the Democrats were wholly committed in this respect to the former Federalist policy.