Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
ANTI-FEDERAL PARTY (IN
—As the old government had been strictly federal, or league, in its nature, it would seem natural at first sight that those who favored its retention or modification should take the name of federalist, and Gerry, of Massachusetts, and a few others, made some efforts to secure this party title, and give their opponents that of anti-federalists or nationalists. But all parties were quick to perceive that the essence of the constitution was its creation of a strong federal government; and all who were opposed to this new and portentous appearance in American politics, all who considered the constitution fantastic, theoretical, and experimental, and a distant attempt to ape European monarchy, all the local magnates who feared to be overshadowed by the new central power, all the small farmers who dreaded the addition of federal to state taxes, at once accepted the name of anti-federalists and opposed the ratification of the constitution, in and out of the conventions.
—In Rhode Island and North Carolina the opposition was successful, (see
—Had the anti-federalists followed the concerted plan of ratifying the constitution on condition of its revision by a second federal convention, their general success could hardly have been prevented. But they saw fit to oppose ratification altogether, and, as the federalists were wise enough to yield to ratification on the "Massachusetts plan" of recommending amendments, stiff-necked opposition to the plan indorsed by Washington and Franklin resulted only in general failure and utter demoralization, for the time, of the anti-federal party. When the 1st congress met, the active, energetic and skillful federalist leaders secured control of almost every department of the new government, yielding to their opponents only the speakership of the house, the attorney generalship, and the state department.
—But it must not be supposed that all who were classed as federalists in 1787-8 were really wedded to federalist doctrines as afterward developed by Hamilton. Every convention contained many delegates who, like Madison, Edmond Randolph, and R. R. Livingston, while opposed by nature to a strong federal government, were equally opposed by education and experience to the rickety rump which then figured as a congress, and to the articles of confederation which had stamped upon it its peculiar character. It was natural that such delegates should urge ratification as an escape from present and pressing evils; Jefferson himself, who had at first pronounced against any constitution without a bill of rights, soon came to say—"It has my hearty prayers." But it was natural also that these men, when the constitution had been adopted, should aim at a construction of its terms which should not give the new government extensive power. The consequent divergence between real and temporary federalists became evident about 1791-3, when the latter again coalesced with the former anti-federalists under a new name (see
—Throughout the 1st congress the anti-federalists made but two essays at party contest. Their opposition to Hamilton's plan for settling the public debt (see
—Jefferson had returned from France in 1789 wholly engrossed by the opening scenes of the French revolution, and personally triumphant in the prospect of the coming success of the principles which he had formulated in the declaration of independence. Very soon after his return he seems to have become fixed in the belief that the conflict between government by the people and government of the people was to be transferred to America also, and that the Hamilton school, under the guise of broad construction, was aiming at monarchy. He soon impressed his belief upon others, and before the summer of 1792 he was able to refer in vague terms to the opposition to Hamilton as a "republican" party, in contrast to the "monarchical" federalists. He was emphatic, at first, in excluding the anti-federalists from the "republican" party, acknowledging them only as allies; but Washington's neutrality proclamation in 1793 brought all the former anti-federalists so prominently forward as friends of the French republic that Jefferson perforce accepted as political facts the death of the anti-federal party and the existence, for the future, of but two parties, the federal party and the republican, or, as it was soon enlarged, the democratic-republican party.
—See Pitkin's Statistical View of American Commerce; Randall's Life of Jefferson; Jefferson's Ana (in Works); Austin's Life of Gerry; 1 Gibbs' Administration of Washington and Adams; 3, 4 Hildreth's United States; 1 Benton's Debates of Congress; and earlier authorities under DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICAN PARTY.
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