The Federalists


President George Washington

George Washington was the 1st American President who served in office from April 30, 1789 to March 4, 1797. One of the key events during his presidency was the formation of two political parties - the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists (who became the Democratic-Republican party).

George Washington and the Federalists
There were no political parties in the United States in 1789 when
George Washington was elected president. Washington was an Independent meaning that he was not formally affiliated with any Political Parties during his two terms in office. Washington was, however, sympathetic to the political beliefs of the group of men called the Federalists.

Definition of the Federalists
Definition: The Federalists were the first American political party and formed by Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury, John Adams and Gouverneur Morris. The Federalists believed in the ideas of nationalism and industrialization.

What did the Federalists believe? Federalists v Anti-Federalists
All the leading statesmen and politicians wanted to give new Constitution a fair trial and they supported George Washington as an impartial, independent President. But the politicians had wildly different ideas about the government of the new nation. The Federalists believed that the new central government, and the wealthy, well-educated classes, should be given the greatest possible amount of power in the government. The Anti-Federalists, who would emerge as the Democratic-Republican Party led by Thomas Jefferson, believed that the vast majority of ordinary, less educated people, had the common sense and the skills required to run the new government.

What did the Federalists believe? Nationalism and Industrialization
Many of the wealthy Federalists had roots in the British system of monarchy and were brought up to believe that the government should be run by the elite. The idea that the government could be run by ordinary people was completely alien to them.  The Federalists believed in the concepts of nationalism and industrialization. For additional facts and information refer to the Federalist Papers.

  • Definition of Nationalism:  The concept of nationalism supports the decisions and actions of a government that is organized in a distinct influential group based on an affinity of birth

  • Definition of Industrialization:  The concept of industrialization is to move from an agrarian society into an industrial one

    • An agrarian society depends on agriculture as its primary means for support

    • Alexander Hamilton led the bankers and businessmen of the new nation , who supported his monetary (fiscal) policies

  • Federalists believe that the national government should have more power than the state governments

    • Those who had the same beliefs of Alexander Hamilton called themselves Federalists but in reality they were Nationalists

    • The policies of Alexander included proposals for a national bank and heavy government subsidies

Confusion between the Federalists, Anti-Federalists and Federalism
There is considerable confusion between the ideas of the Federalist and the concept of Federalism. You would think that the two went 'hand in hand'. However this is an incorrect assumption. These Federalists believed in a strong, central, National government whereas the concept of Federalism is based on the idea of two co-equal areas of Government. In the US this consisted of the State Governments and the National Government, both having equal power and both able to operate somewhat independently of the other. The political ideology of Federalism was actually the belief of the Anti-Federalists. The Federalists (really Nationalists) believed that the national government should have more power than the state governments.

Famous Federalists
What were the names of famous Federalists? Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, James Madison, John Jay, Benjamin Franklin, Gouverneur Morris,
Thomas Pinckney, Timothy Pickering and John Marshall. The Federalists held a strong base in the cities and in New England. The Federalists were concerned about the excesses of democracy that had been indicated in popular disturbances like Shays Rebellion and the pro-debtor policies of many states that forgave debts and printed more money.

Famous Anti-Federalists
What were the names of famous Anti-Federalists? Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, Samuel Adams and George Clinton.
The Anti-Federalists (who became the Democratic-Republicans) held their political base in the rural South.

Actions and Beliefs of the Federalists
What influence did the Federalist hold and what were the important actions taken by the Federalist politicians? The Federalists were in power when various acts and law were passed including the Alien and Sedition Acts and Jay's Treaty. They were in power during momentous events in American and world history including the French Revolution, the Quasi War and the War of 1812. 

Federalists - 'Jobs for the Boys'
During the last years of his presidency George Washington had given office only to Federalists. President Adams did the same and once again only Federalists held high office in the government - 'Jobs for the boys'. This is best illustrated in the incident concerning the Midnight Judges. This all changed when Thomas Jefferson was elected president and denounced many of the Federalist policies, especially the bank and implied powers (the powers exercised by Congress which are not explicitly given by the constitution).

Destruction of the Federalists - The Hartford Convention
The secrecy and views of the Hartford Convention (December 15, 1814 and January 5, 1815) totally discredited the Federalists. The New England Federalists who attended the Hartford Convention found themselves branded "traitors" and the Federalists was never able to regain their lost prestige.


Federalists - President George Washington Video
Federalists: The article on the Federalists provides an overview of one of the major issues of his presidential term in office. The following video will give you additional important facts and dates about the political events experienced by the 1st American President whose presidency spanned from April 30, 1789 to March 4, 1797.




Interesting Facts about the Federalists for kids and schools
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Federalists, a major political party
George Washington Presidency from April 30, 1789 to March 4, 1797
Fast, fun, interesting facts about famous Federalists
Foreign & Domestic policies of President George Washington
George Washington Presidency and the Federalists for schools, homework, kids and children

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