Hamilton vs. Jefferson: Political Philosophies of the 1800s

1120 Words Oct 6th, 2012 5 Pages
Two competing political philosophies have always existed throughout the United States’ relatively short history: one seeking to increase the power of the central government, and one seeking to decrease it. During the 1800s these two conflicting philosophies were acted out by the Federalist and the Democratic Republican parties, respectively. The Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, advocated the importance of a strong central government in leading the country forward, while the Democratic Republicans, led by Thomas Jefferson, promoted increasing the common man’s role in government. Although both political parties had good intentions for the future of the United States, the Federalist Party was much more effective at uniting the American …show more content…
In contrast, the Democratic Republicans put large amounts of power directly in the hands of the people. Jefferson believed “in the common sense of mankind in general” and distrusted the central government. Democratic Republicans feared the tyranny of an all-powerful national government capable of operating unchecked and unchallenged without the consent of the people. However, their fears were largely unwarranted; the Constitution would not allow for such an oppressive government to exist—even if interpreted loosely—because of the numerous checks and balances put into place by the Founding Fathers. They ensured that the Federal government would always perform the will of the people. However, Jefferson would not compromise and insisted on preaching his outmoded conspiracy theories. Jefferson even went so far as to say, “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers…alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.” Unfortunately, this apprehensive philosophy did not work very well for the American people at all; it encouraged the development of factions, an
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