Federalism and Antifederalism in the United States (1783 - 1815)

Federalism and Antifederalism in the United States (1783 – 1815)

Northern America

Having achieved independence, it was now a question of living and enduring with one’s own strength. In the international field, the weight of the new republican confederation was minimal or, at least, not yet tested in an autonomous action. A conflict between some European states had helped to affirm their independence; another combination, in which she had found herself entangled, could have submerged her into nothingness. He had the virtues and vital instincts of new creations, but he was also in danger. Already in February-March 1783 the new state of Washington only for the sake and the equilibrium and the straightness escaped the imminent danger of a military dictatorship, which the officers discontented against the slowness of Congress to recognize their rights and the maintenance of promises made, they were preparing. The confederal constitution proved increasingly inadequate day by day. With peace, the urgent need to take action on behalf of all the Confederate states, and the zeal of the members of Congress lessened, the “United States” were united in name only. There was no central government; each state took care of its own affairs. This led not only to the effective dissolution of the confederation, but inevitably, to the war of the states against the states. Would the tendencies towards unity, which existed supported by spiritual and material reasons, have been able to prevail over the separatist tendencies? There were also issues that had to collectively affect all states: the execution of the peace treaty with England and, in general, relations with England. abroad; the war debt; expansion into the west; customs policy. The treaty with France of 1778 was still formally in force, the only one that the United States has ever ratified in its history; because that feeling was already operating, which has always remained present and effective in the United States: the feeling of suspicion and distrust of the politics of European states, judged insane and marked by secular enmities undeserving, according to the judgment of the Americans, to weigh also on the destinies of America. However, the fact was that the United States, despite the peace, was living under the weight of a deaf British hostility; the court of San Giacomo did not hide his bad mood towards the Americans; he refrained from appointing his own minister in Philadelphia; he chose the consuls among the American Tories and ex-loyalists; did not withdraw, in accordance with the treaty, the English troops from the border posts south of the Great Lakes; indeed, at hand, he pitted the Indians against the Americans and supplied them with weapons; it favored seditious movements in the United States itself (as well as in Vermont, which was appeased only by recognizing it as a distinct state – the 14th state – in 1791). Not that the Americans did not lend the British any well-founded cause for resentment; p. for example, the states gleefully violated the obligations of the peace treaty relating to the recognition of the credits of British citizens and the compensation owed to loyalists expatriates in Canada and Nova Scotia (about 80,000). Even Spain, a former ally, now did not hide its aims: aiming at New Orleans and going north, it sought to attract under its protectorate the Indians and the settlers of the vast plains east of the lower Mississippi, over which the United States had only nominal titles of sovereignty. Now, like the fur trade route to the Great Lakes, this other was a particularly important area for the United States. Not only were the settlers already numerous (over 100,000 in Kentucky and Tennessee); not only had some states compensated ex-combatants with new land titles; not only, in small groups or individually, they had come to lead a life of danger, to plant rough wooden houses, strange types of solitary, pioneers (the so-called not only had some states compensated ex-combatants with new land titles; not only, in small groups or individually, they had come to lead a life of danger, to plant rough wooden houses, strange types of solitary, pioneers (the so-called not only had some states compensated ex-combatants with new land titles; not only, in small groups or individually, they had come to lead a life of danger, to plant rough wooden houses, strange types of solitary, pioneers (the so-called backwoodsmen); but a whole network of relationships and interests had been woven so as to draw the attention of the 13 Atlantic states to these regions. Thus, for example, the Ohio and Mississippi river routes were of primary importance to them: artifacts from the north entered and descended to New Orleans, from which merchants returned to Baltimore or Philadelphia with southern products, tobacco, rice., indigo, timber, etc. But in this field, the common action of the 13 states could not be very effective, precisely because their cohesion was poor. In the opinion of an authoritative contemporary, James Madison, who later became president of the United States, the confederation “was in fact nothing but a treaty of friendship, commerce and alliance between independent and sovereign states”. The dangers of the economic and social crisis, which worsened in 1786, convinced of the need to resort to remedies those ruling classes of the various states who were most interested in preserving the benefits of independence. In the north they were shipowners, traders, small industrialists; in the south, landowners planters (planters): both, but especially the former, holders of most of the state bonds issued during the war and yet interested in preventing a collapse of the confederation which would have meant their ruin; one and the other closely pressed by small farmers (farmers), highly indebted to the capitalist classes and, in these years of economic crisis, of a disastrous fall in the prices of agricultural products, of monetary inflation, prone to radical movements. So in the Carolines, even worse in Rhode Island. In Massachusetts there was even armed and bloody riots of the rural people, suffocated only by the intervention of militias hired at their expense by the merchant classes of the cities. It became evident that the current constitution was ineffective. Washington, and the aristocratic-conservative elements in general, worried about it; a few blocks, more pessimistic, went so far as to recommend a monarchical establishment with Prince Henry of Prussia. Generally, all those who had given most of themselves in the struggle for independence saw the need for vigorous action to save the work that had cost so much blood. Under the inspiration of these classes and these trends, the Congress, on February 21, 1787, invited the individual states to send delegates “to make the articles of the constitution adequate to the needs of the government and to the preservation of the union”. The assembly (Federal Convention) met in Philadelphia on May 14 of that year: Sanhedrin of the best that America possessed in experience and intellect. But the small farmers had only one representative out of 55 delegates. The heated discussions polarized around two different draft constitution, which were then the reflection – as already in the question of expansion to the West – of the divergent tendencies and conflicting concerns of the large and small states. The Virginia Plan (Virginia was the most populous state in the United States) had a national (executive) government and a national parliament divided into two branches, whose members were elected in proportion to the population of the states; the New Jersey Plan, if it admitted a national executive, it advocated a single legislative body in which each state had an equal number of representatives. A compromise was reached, in a relatively short time (on September 17, 1787 the new federal constitution was already signed): a national (federal) government was established, which above all had been missed; introduced the two-chamber system; but in one branch, the Senate, with representation of the states with an equal number of seats for each state, in the other, the House of Representatives, with a number proportional to the population of the individual states (calculated on the basis of the Federal Ratio, i.e. the free plus 3/5 of the slaves). Thus was born this singular American constitution, so vital and so augmented with the very reality of American life that – with a few amendments, about twenty, and for a good half in the very first years – it was able to accompany the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, from 13 states to 48 as many as there are now, overcome a very serious crisis, support the United States in the upward march towards world power, adapt to a demographic increase, to an influx of migrants, to an economic development that does not they know the same. It was established that the new constitution should enter into force when it was approved by the people’s assemblies of at least 9 states. It was Pennsylvania first, on December 18, 1787; in the following June, with the ratification of Virginia, there were already ten states; New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island were still missing, which followed the others last, under the threat of being otherwise excluded from federal trade, only at the end of 1790. But elsewhere, especially in Massachusetts and Virginia, had also been a tough fight. The country was inundated with writings and pamphlets for and against the constitution. The commercial classes of the maritime cities, a large part of the clergy, the ex-combatants, especially officers, of the war of independence were in favor – and they said they were federalists; were against those who had made a local glory in the states as governors, etc., the inflationary speculators, the indebted to the merchant classes, the democratic ideologues who would have liked to have accepted a declaration of citizens’ rights in the constitution. But it was not a homogeneous opposition and it succumbed. There was no bitter struggle over the name proposed for the presidency of the Union: George Washington, elected for the first four years (1789-1793) was already in a sphere superior to parties. He was installed on 4 March (a date that later remained for the inauguration of the presidents) in New York, the provisional federal capital, then passed, for a decade (1790-1800) in Philadelphia, waiting for the new capital to be habitable. he was building on the Potomac and that was Washington. The powers that the constitution gave and gives to the president were and are very great; not without reason the president of the United States has been called a Republican monarch and a waiting for the new capital that was being built on the Potomac and that was Washington to be habitable. The powers that the constitution gave and gives to the president were and are very great; not without reason the president of the United States has been called a Republican monarch and a waiting for the new capital that was being built on the Potomac and that was Washington to be habitable. The powers that the constitution gave and gives to the president were and are very great; not without reason the president of the United States has been called a Republican monarch and a premier monarchist united in the same person. In fact, he is accountable for his acts only to the people who appointed him; it shares certain powers with the Congress (Senate and House of Representatives) and especially with the Senate, in terms of appointing the highest federal authorities and ratifying treaties. But in reality the three organs are each independent and sovereign in its sphere; neither the Congress can with a vote of no confidence cause the resignation of the president, nor the president dissolve the Congress, but only suspend its deliberations with the right of veto. Cabinet crises are excluded, because the president does not have a cabinet in the sense of European parliamentary governments; he has collaborators for the handling of the most important federal affairs (the heads of departments) who are not and cannot be parliamentarians, and who answer only to the president. Among Washington’s collaborators the two most eminent figures, among the most eminent in American history, were Thomas Jefferson, head of the Department of State (that is, of foreign affairs) and Alexander Hamilton, in charge of the Treasury. Personalities contrasting in nature, mentality, political ideals, were nevertheless, together, collaborators of Washington for a good four years; and when in this period the disagreement between them arose and then intensified, it had no characteristic of personal rivalry; because they, both natures of leaders, inevitably found themselves the exponents and coryphs of two opposing tendencies of American political life responding to mentality and interests that they had not helped to create, but to which they gave awareness of political forces and party organization and tactics: the federalist party (Hamiltonian) and the republican party (Jeffersonian). Hamilton had a heightened realistic temperament and genuine administrative talent; the financial recovery of the Union was entirely his merit. Strengthening the federal bond was his dominant thinking; therefore he relied on the capitalist classes of New England, in favor of which, mainly, a first protective customs tariff was introduced; therefore he established the first federal bank; therefore he promoted trade, industry, merchant shipping. Mostly concerned with preserving his country from anarchy, he wanted to concentrate power. Having never set foot in Europe, he had imagined a English-style Europe on which he would have liked to model America. In Jefferson, on the contrary, a versatile temperament, who dealt with architecture, linguistics, mechanics, theology, etc., the ideal reasons prevailed over the practical ones; Hence the accusation that Hamilton addressed to him of indulging in sentimentality. For Jefferson, who knew Europe, America had to follow other paths: not to compete with it in trade and manufacturing, but to persevere in a calm and frugal life, essentially based on agriculture. Only agriculture, he thought, could be the substratum of a truly democratic community; on the contrary, fast-earning trade and industries would have been the cause of jarring social inequalities and internal and external rivalries. For Jefferson the freedom of individual was the supreme postulate; hence the suspicions and declared hostilities against any attempted strengthening of federal power; the vigilant defense of the rights of states; the animosity against England, of unpleasant memory for its overwhelming tendencies, and, instead, the sympathies for the French Revolution. Hamiltonian federalism and Jeffersonian republicanism, of course, can be traced back to the conflicting motifs of aristocracy and democracy, conservatism and radicalism. But together we must keep in mind the two contrasting economic complexes of which they were the ideal exponent: the commercial-financial one of New England (especially of Massachusetts) and the agrarian one of the southern slave planters (typical Virginia). As they take turns in power or opposition, the republicans will be able to take on the federalists’ program and advocate the strengthening of the federal government and the latter the rights of the states; but with these or other names, the two complexes, north and south, capitalism and agriculture, remain antagonistic until 1865 and beyond.

The French Revolution, opposing France to England and Spain in war, all three provided with colonies in America, also deepened the gap between federalists and republicans. The former hoped for the triumph of authority over the revolution; the latter sympathized with the French, declaring that the triumph of the monarchy in Europe would also be the end of the independence of the United States. And they accused each other of wanting to violate the constitution for the benefit of one or the other side, Washington, then at the beginning of its second presidential four-year term (1793-1797), proclaimed neutrality. But it was fatal for the belligerents to create embarrassments for their American sympathizers: the British by capturing neutral and therefore American ships, when they carried French colonial products; the French likewise raging against the shipping which traded with the English. Moreover, the British, to press on the Americans, again resorted to the dangerous weapon of the Indians or had their hand in some murky American interior (so in the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania, in 1794), nor did they decide to give up those border posts in the north-west which would have had to give up since 1783. The federal government was increasingly inclined towards the federalists and was willing to listen to the complaints of the heavily damaged merchant classes for British politics. Federalist John Jay sent to London negotiated a treaty (the treaty bearing his name, of November 19, 1794) which was a diplomatic defeat by the United States; because, having previously the English renounced to capture the American ships, the hypothetical American gain was to obtain the frontier posts that were already granted to them by the Treaty of Paris of 1783. The fact was that only with a war would they could have torn more; but the ineffective negotiator had made it clear too early that the United States did not want to meddle in European affairs. Other more nagging problems required an urgent solution: that of expansion into the West, first of all. The settlement of the settlers had taken on such an extent that as early as 1792 a new state, Kentucky, had been added to the Union. But it was necessary to regulate this grandiose movement for the future. The Public Land Act of 1796. Already there was a various legislation of the states, which however, like that of Virginia, favored the chaotic scattering of the settlers with all the unpleasant consequences that ensued. The law of 1796 instead wanted to promote the regular and contiguous succession of land cultivated, on the basis of the township of 6 square miles, divided into sections or blocks of sections that a federal office auctioned at a mild price, such as to prevent speculation and with three-year payment facilities and after making sure that the rights of ownership or use were extinguished of the Indian tribes. The system, first applied to the Northwest Territory, then (1798) to that of Mississippi, gave, on the whole, an excellent test. Certainly the “territory” lived for some time under federal tutelage and was not represented in Congress. But when it had met the necessary requirements (at least 60,000 residents, a constitution, a legislative body, etc.) the territory could be admitted among the states. The state of Ohio was the first to be accepted with this system (1802);

It is not to be believed, however, that the Public Land Act fixed the only type of subsequent American colonization. As before 1796, so after, there were always numerous outlaws, irregular, adventurous solitary who pushed forward, daring peak patrols, more and more to the west, violating all federal laws with impunity, living a life of daily war with the Indian tribes. It was in this small and daily struggle that the not numerous population of the Redskin was almost exterminated.

It may seem strange; but not the vital question of expansion into the West, which was the highest title of nobility of the American nation in the century. XIX, it was the platform of the struggle for the presidency in 1796, but the treaty of Jay. Not a few Americans in the old states viewed expansion into the West as a social scourge, at most seeing it as an outlet for the less desirable elements. Against the treaty the republicans threw their arrows. Washington did not want to present himself for the third time and his example became the norm always observed afterwards. However, the federalists still prevailed by a few votes; and John Adams (1797-1801) was president. The struggle had been and continued tenacious, for and against neutrality, for and against France. Which was now, after the peace of Basel, much more dangerous; nor were the federalists quite wrong when they denounced the vast plans that the French emissaries were plotting in English Canada and in Spanish Florida and Louisiana, and which, if successful, would squeeze the United States on all sides. Even the war of the French, even in American waters, passed the limits of the tolerable. In the course of 1797 the contacts made by an American mission in Paris threw a bad light on the treachery and corruptibility in the circles of the French Directory; of this business of even in American waters, it passed the limits of the tolerable. In the course of 1797 the contacts made by an American mission in Paris threw a bad light on the treachery and corruptibility in the circles of the French Directory; of this business of even in American waters, it passed the limits of the tolerable. In the course of 1797 the contacts made by an American mission in Paris threw a bad light on the treachery and corruptibility in the circles of the French Directory; of this business of XYZNegotiation the federalists made a weapon against the republicans; and by promoting the building of a fleet, they pushed straight into war. Hamilton and his friends were already thinking of an alliance with England not only against France but also against Spain, in agreement on this point with the South American patriot F. de Miranda. But when this plan seemed on the verge of triumph, President Adams, unbeknownst to the Hamiltonian wing of his party, vetoed the preparations for war (March 18, 1799). It was preferred to obtain for negotiations from France the cessation of the racing war against the American ships and compensation for those captured. A treaty was also signed in Mortefontaine, on September 30, 1800, but the following day France had the Louisiana surrendered by Spain. setting foot in this land west of the Mississippi from which she had had to leave in 1763. The concerns of the federalists, therefore, reappeared well founded, while they also drew new arguments from the internal situation. Outbreaks of Jacobinism existed here and there; and more they saw with their imagination. The influx of revolutionary elements from Europe (especially France and Ireland) was a continual cause for fear for the federalists. In 1798 there were no less than 25,000 French in the United States; many of them had obtained American citizenship; a Genevan, Albert Gallatin, was even the head of the Republican minority in the House of Representatives. Therefore col In 1798 there were no less than 25,000 French in the United States; many of them had obtained American citizenship; a Genevan, Albert Gallatin, was even the head of the Republican minority in the House of Representatives. Therefore col In 1798 there were no less than 25,000 French in the United States; many of them had obtained American citizenship; a Genevan, Albert Gallatin, was even the head of the Republican minority in the House of Representatives. Therefore col Naturalization Act and with the Alien Act (1798) the federalists tried to put a halt to the ease with which American citizenship was granted to those undesirable foreigners, who called themselves citizens of the World. Furthermore, with the Sedition Act, wanting to prevent offenses against the federal government and Congress, it actually came to limit the freedom of opinion of citizens and to gag the opposition. The application that was then made of it, unfair in the case of the so-called Fries Rebellion (1798-1799, revolt of poor people against federal taxes), led to a great part of public opinion, very sensitive to the idea of ​​individual freedom, against the federalists. The presidential elections of 1800 meant the end of federalist power. After a long struggle, also caused by a defect in the electoral system, later corrected with the 12th amendment to the constitution, Thomas Jefferson (1801-05 and 1805-09) came to the presidency. With him began a period of republican regime of almost thirty years, up to 1828. With the advent of these “Jacobins” there was no foundation for any of those fears of social upheavals for which the federalists were anxious. Indeed, Jefferson addressed an invitation to the federalists to collaborate. “We are all republicans, we are all federalists”, he said in his first message. Of course, there were changes in high and low places that the federalists had monopolized; of course, Jefferson made it clear to shipowners and industrialists that they could not expect favors from him. But he also solemnly proclaimed that the federal government would deliver on its commitments to creditors; and in fact, this government (the world’s best hope, as Jefferson said), despite the idealistic disinterest of his boss, ended up executing the Hamiltonian plan of capitalist industrial development and in the distribution of federal expenses it was precisely the Republican Congress that first introduced less correct administrative systems (the log – rolling and pork – barrel system) intended only to stuff the electoral committees.

Even with respect to expansion, Jefferson departed from his ideological premises. It was he who combined what was considered the biggest national business coup: the Louisiana purchase. Immense region, from which 13 new states of the Union were carved out in the process of time. The cession of it to France had worried even a Francophile like Jefferson; while making sympathetic approaches to England he sent James Monroe to France to propose the purchase of the region, suggesting that in the event of no agreement, the United States would join England. Napoleon and Talleyrand, realizing well that if something did not come out of it immediately, Louisiana would fall prey to the English, agreed to the combination: on April 30, 1803, the cession treaty was signed for 60 million francs. Yet to many Americans it seemed like a bad deal at the time! Indeed, France’s titles to make the sale were questionable in more ways than one. And then the federalists saw in it a cause that would perpetuate their inferiority: from Louisiana eminently agrarian states would arise and therefore mostly antifederalists. In 1803-1804 the states of New England went so far as to conspire to provoke a secession, a Northern Confederacy, thanks to Aaron Burr, a shady individual who had risen to the highest dignities of the Republican party and the federal government and who, disappointed in his ambitions, shortly thereafter he was to kill Hamilton in a duel and liquidate himself politically, following a new obscure attempt to detach from

During Jefferson’s second presidency the international situation of the United States was severely tested due to the difficulty of maintaining neutrality in the renewed Anglo-French duel. The American military fleet was small; they could not deceive the successes they had in 1805 against a Barbarian state, that of Tripoli, used to blackmail all the merchant nations in the Mediterranean with tax claims. The big issue was the impression, that is, the right that England assumed to visit American ships to arrest those sailors whom she considered deserters from her own navy. Hence abuses, misunderstandings, abuses of all kinds and a de facto blockade of the American coasts. Negotiations in London led to nothing; indeed, in June 1807, for a matter of this kind, a British ship shot the Chesapeake, an American warship, forcing it to lower the flag. The nation felt a surge of indignation; new means were made available for armament of the fleet and on December 22, 1807, Congress passed the Embargo Act, which, in Jefferson’s thought, should have been equivalent to a war, that is, forcing England to yield, excluding it from the American trade of import and export; for he believed that England, deprived of American agricultural products, especially cotton, could not resist. He was mistaken in his calculation. In essence, the embargo was useless and did more damage to American trade than to the British. The commercial federalist circles of New England were exasperated and threatened to secede; even republicans in New York and other ports disagreed with Jefferson on this point, and in the presidential election of 1808 they proposed a candidate against the embargo, George Clinton, to counteract the official candidate James Madison who was elected (1809-1813). Four days before leaving power, Jefferson lifted the embargo (March 1, 1809). This could have improved, at least temporarily, relations with England; but unexpectedly and for reasons not yet clarified, the spirit of conciliation was lacking on the English side; the British minister, D. Erskine, was recalled from Washington. But, once England was engaged with Napoleon, the United States actually had its hands free in America: taking advantage of the desperate situation of Spain, divided between two self-styled Spanish governments, and the surrender of the governor, the United States took possession of, in 1810, of western Florida. Napoleon, in order to keep the Americans close to him, did not sincerely hope that he would not apply the continental blockade to American ships. And Madison, in return, on 11 February 1811 he forbade any commercial relationship with the English. By this, indeed, he did not intend to bind himself to the French, but to exert pressure on England to revoke the ordinances relating to impressment and the neutral trade. Castlereagh showed a certain complacency when he took over the Foreign Office; but it was too late. Before this changed attitude was heard in America, on June 18, 1812, Congress, with a weak majority, declared war on Great Britain. This decision had been driven not only by a revolt of wounded national dignity, but also, and to a greater extent, by the need to expand northwest to Canada. Not that the neighboring regions of the United States were overpopulated; indeed, the opposite was true. But these settlers, these pioneers preferred to leave the newly occupied lands to go further into new lands, as hunters and cattle ranchers. Hence continuous warfare with the Indian tribes, tightened around Chief Tecumseh, noble figure who together with his brother made extreme attempts to save his race from extermination. But it was won on November 7, 1811 at the Tippecanoe River, by WH Harrison, federal governor of the Indiana Territory, part of the ancient Northwest Territory. The British in Canada were said to have favored Tecumseh. The accusation does not seem well founded; but it was commonly accepted as good; and the settlers of the west brought new arguments to Congress to start the war against England. It was the West that with the cry of “Canada, Canada” imposed its selfish interests on the whole Union, against the Anglophile federalists and the hesitant republicans. Even if ennobled by the declared reason: “for the freedom of the seas and of commerce” it could not have been a people’s war; some states even sabotaged it, claiming to turn it into a purely defensive war. But that, all in all, the majority accepted the war, once declared, was seen in the presidential elections of 1812: Madison was re-elected (1813-17). The war took place on the sea and in the Lakes region (for details, seeAmerican, War, II, p. 955 ff.), Around Detroit and near Niagara. A first attempt to invade Canada failed miserably. On the sea, the American fleet, scarce in number, but strong for better armed ships, was victorious in the first clashes. But in 1813 the British naval superiority asserted itself; the American coasts were blocked and the few American vessels had to limit themselves to racing warfare in the European seas. In the same year the war on the Lakes front was more fortunate for the Americans: both the Lake Erie flotilla and the army in the Detroit region reported notable successes, although a movement towards Montreal was not successful. But in 1814, with Napoleon liquidated in Europe, the British were able to have forces available to attack both from the side of the Lakes and New Orleans. The American victories of Chippewa (July 5, 1814) and the naval one of Plattsburg, on Lake Champlain (September 11, 1814) on the north front, and that, very brilliant, of Andrew Jackson in New Orleans on the south front, were ample compensation for self-love. national, deeply humiliated to see the new capital Washington taken, partly burned and then cleared of the enemy (August 1814). Jackson’s victory came when the war was over; negotiations had been underway since the opening of hostilities. They had become more active lately in Ghent, while in New England the federalists, masters of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, exposed to the ravages of a war they had not wanted, agitated and threatened (in the Hartford Convention, 15 December 1814) secession and separate peace. The peace was concluded in Ghent on December 24, 1814, on the basis of the pre-war borders. Other special issues (impressment, navigation on the Mississippi, delimitation of the borders with Canada, etc.) were left untouched for further negotiations.

Federalism and Antifederalism in the United States (1783 - 1815)