AP US History
Evolution: Federalists to Whigs
America's early history is marked with drastic changes in political situations and public opinions, leading to the inception and termination of various political parties. These parties came and went, but at any single moment in time, America's government was controlled by one party, with a second vying for power. One such party was born out of the controversy over the adoption of the proposed Federal Constitution - the Federalist Party. It dominated congress and, therefore, America for approximately twenty-five years until it disintegrated and its members scattered throughout various other factions. Fourteen years after the Federalists' dissolution the Whig party rose as another prominent political group. The Whig party, although historically considered absolutely independent of any other previous American parties, was a partial continuation of the Federalist Party.
The Federalist Party's initial prevalence in American politics was first noted during the adoption of the Federal Constitution in 1787 to 1788.
It yearned for a nation in which the states had far less authority than the federal government. However, the party's opponents (the future leaders of the Democratic-Republicans) wished for a greater power to be granted to America's states. These clashing opinions were soothed by the Bill of Rights, a compromise that checks and limits the federal government's power.
Nevertheless, a well-defined Federalist Party did not exist before 1794. After George Washington's inauguration in 1789, Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton proposed a plan that would force the national government to assume state debts, fund the national debt, and charter a national bank. Followers of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison opposed this idea, stating that it gave too great a power to the national bank and government. Furthermore, the Hamiltonians' refusal to form an alliance with France fused the Democratic and Republican parties, the...