The Federalist Party
The Federalist Party was dominated by a man who never actually ran for public office in the United States - Alexander Hamilton. "Alexander Hamilton was, writes Marcus Cunliffe, 'the executive head with the most urgent program to implement, with the sharpest ideas of what he meant to do and with the boldest desire to shape the national government accordingly.' In less than two years he presented three reports, defining a federal economic program which forced a major debate not only on the details of the program but on the purpose for which the union has been formed. Hamilton's own sense of purpose was clear; he would count the revolution for independence a success only if it were followed by the creation of a prosperous commerical nation, comparable, perhaps even competitive, in power and in energy, with its European counterparts." (fn: Marcus Cunliffe, The Nation Takes Shape, 1789-1837, (Chicago, 1959), 23.) (Linda K. Kerber, History of U.S. Political Parties Volume I: 1789-1860: From Factions to Parties. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., ed. New York, 1973, Chelsea House Publisher. p. 11)
"Federalists created their political program out of a political vision. They had shared in the revolutionaries' dream of a Republic of Virtue, and they emerged from a successful war against empire to search for guarantees that the republican experiment would not collapse." (Kerber, p. 3)
"The Federalist political demand was for a competent government, one responsible for the destiny of the nation and with the power to direct what that destiny would be. What was missing in postwar America, they repeatedly complained in a large variety of contexts, was order, predictability, stability. A competent government would guarantee the prosperity and external security of the nation; a government of countervailing balances was less likely to be threatened by temporary lapses in civic virtue, while remaining strictly accountable to the public will." (Kerber, p. 4)
"So long as Federalists controlled and staffed the agencies of the national government, the need to formulate alternate mechanisms for party decision making was veiled; with a Federalist in the White House, Federalists in the Cabinet, and Federalist majorities in Congress, the very institutional agencies of the government would themselves be the mechanism of party. Federal patronage could be used to bind party workers to the Federalist 'interest.' 'The reason of allowing Congress to appoint its own officers of the Customs, collectors of the taxes and military officers of every rank,' Hamilton said, 'is to create in the interior of each State, a mass of influence in favor of the Federal Government.' (fn: Alexander Hamilton, 1782, quoted in Lisle A. Rose, Prologue to Democracy: The Federalists in the South, 1789-1800, (Lexington, Kentucky, 1968), 3.) Federalists though of themselves as a government, not as a party; their history in the 1790's would be the history of alignments within the government, rather than of extrernal alignments which sought to influence the machinery of government." (Kerber, p. 10)
"Major national issues invigorated the process of party formation; as state groups came, slowly and hesitantly, to resemble each other. The issues on which pro-administration and anti-administration positions might be assumed increased in number and in obvious significance; the polarity of the parties became clearer." (Kerber, p. 11)
"As Adams' presidential decisions sequentially created a definition of the administration's goals as clear as Hamilton's funding program had once done, the range of political ideology which called itself Federalist simply became too broad to the party successfully to cast over it a unifying umbrella. Federalists were unified in their response to the XYZ Affair, and in their support of the Alien and Sedition Acts, which passed as party measures in the Fifth Congress, but in little else. The distance between Adams and Hamilton - in political philosophy, in willingness to contemplate war with France, in willingness to manipulate public opinion - was unbridgable; Hamilton's ill-tempered anti-Adams pamphlet of 1800 would be confirmation of a long-established distaste." (Kerber, p. 14)
"One result of the war was to add to Federalist strength and party cohesion. There were several varieties of Federalist congressional opinion on the war: most believed that the Republicans had fomented hard feeling with England so that their party could pose as defende of American honor; many believed that in the aftermath of what they were sure to be an unsuccessful war the Republicans would fall from power and Federalists would be returned to office . . . Regardless of the region from which they came, Federalists voted against the war with virtual unanimity." (Kerber, p. 24)
"As an anti-war party, Federalists retained their identity as an opposition well past wartime into a period that is usually known as the Era of Good Feelings and assumed to be the occasion of a one party system. In 1816, Federalists 'controlled the state governments of Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Massachusetts; they cast between forty percent and fifty percent of the popular votes in New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont...Such wide support did not simply vanish...' (fn: Shaw Livermore, Jr. The Twilight of Federalism: The Disintegration of the Federalist Party 1815-1830, (Princeton, 1962), 265.) Rather, that support remained available, and people continued to attempt to make careers as Federalists (though, probably fewer initiated new careers as Federalists). Because men like Rufus King and Harrison Gray Otis retained their partisan identity intact, when real issues surfaced, like the Missouri debates of 1820, a 'formed opposition' still remained to respond to a moral cause and to oppose what they still thought of as a 'Virginia system.' Each of the candidates, including Jackson in the disputed election of 1824 had Federalist supporters, and their presence made a difference; Shaw Livermore argues that the central 'corrupt bargain' was not Adams' with Clay, but Adams' promise of patronage to Federalists which caused Webster to deliver the crucial Federalist votes that swung the election. If the war had increased Federalist strength, it also, paradoxically, had operated to decrease it, for prominent Federalists rallied to a beleaguered government in the name of unity and patriotism. These wartime republicans included no less intense Federalists than Oliver Wolcott of Connecticut and William Plumer of New Hampshire, both of whom went on to become Republican governors of their respective states, and in their careers thus provide emblems for the beginning of a one party period, and the slow breakdown of the first party system." (Kerber, p. 24)
"The dreams of the Revolution had been liberty and order, freedom and power; in seeking to make these dreams permanent, to institutionalize some things means to lose others. The Federalists, the first to be challenged by power, would experience these contradictions most sharply; a party that could include John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and Noah Webster, would be its own oxymoron. In the end the party perished out of internal contradiction and external rival, but the individuals who staffed it continued on to staff its succesors." (Kerber, p, 25)
- History of U.S. Political Parties Volume I: 1789-1860: From Factions to Parties. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., ed. New York, 1973, Chelsea House Publisher.
- The Revolution of American Conservatism: The Federalist Party in the Era of Jeffersonian Democracy. David Hackett Fischer. New York, 1965, Harper and Row.
- The Age of Federalism: The Early American Republic, 1788-1800. Stanley Elkins and Eric McKitrick. New York, 1993, Oxford University Press.
The Federalists were referred to by many monikers over the years by newspapers.
- In 1809, The Concord Gazette refers to the Federalist Ticket as the American Ticket.
- Beginning in 1810, the Newburyport Herald (MA), began referring to Federalists as the American Party (as opposed to the "French" Party, who were Republicans). This continued in the 1811 elections.
The Aurora, based in Philadelphia, the most well-known Republican newspaper of the era (see American Aurora: A Democratic-Republican Returns by Richard N. Rosenfeld.) in the February 11, 1800 issue referred to Mr. Holmes, the losing candidate for the Special Election for the Philadelphia County seat in the House of Representatives as an "anti-republican".
The October 7, 1799 issue of the Maryland Herald (Easton) referred to the Federalist ticket of Talbot County as Federal Republicans. It would continue to be used intermittently throughout the next 20 years. Newspapers that used this term included the Gazette of the United States (Philadelphia) and Philadelphia Gazette in 1800, the Newport Mercury in 1808, the New Bedford Mercury in 1810, the True American (Philadelphia) in 1812, the Northumberland Republican (Sunbury) in 1815, the United States Gazette (Philadelphia) in 1816 and the Union (Philadelphia) in 1821 and 1822.
Friends of Peace / Peace / Peace Ticket:
Beginning in 1812 ("In laying before our readers the above Canvass of this county, a few remarks become necessary, to refute the Assertion of the war party, that the Friends of Peace are decreasing in this country." Northern Whig (Hudson). May 11, 1812.) and continuing through to 1815 a number of newspapers referred to the Federalists as the Peace Party (or Peacemaker Party, as the Merrimack Intelligencer (Haverhill) of March 19, 1814 used), as the Peace Ticket or as the Friends of Peace due to their opposition of the War of 1812 (many of these same newspapers referred to the Republicans as the War Party). This use occurred all through at least August of 1815, with the Raleigh Minerva of August 18, 1815 referring to the Federalist candidates as Peace candidates.
These newspapers include the Columbian Centinel (Boston), Merrimack Intelligencer (Haverhill), Providence Gazette, the New York Evening Post, the New York Spectator, the Commercial Advertiser (New York), Northern Whig (Hudson), the Broome County Patriot (Chenango Point), the Independent American (Ballston Spa), the Baltimore Patriot, the Alexandria Gazette, Poulson's, Middlesex Gazette (Middletown), the Political and Commercial Register (Philadelphia), Freeman's Journal (Philadelphia), the Carlisle Herald, Northampton Farmer, Intelligencer and Weekly Advertiser (Lancaster), National Intelligencer (Washington), The Federal Republican (New Bern), the Raleigh Minerva, The Star (Raleigh) and Charleston Courier.
The New Hampshire Gazette (Portsmouth) took the opposite side, listing the Federalists in the March 16, 1813 edition as "Advocates of Dishonorable Peace and Submission."
"The Tyranny of Printers": Newspaper Politics in the Early American Republic. Jeffrey L. Pasley. Charlottesville, 2001, University Press of Virginia.
With the fading of the Federalist party in many areas and the lack of organized political "parties" in the modern-sense, several candidates for election were often described in terms of their support for a single candidate.
New York 1806-08: Morgan Lewis was the Governor of New York from 1804-07. He was elected in 1804 with the support of DeWitt Clinton, but after their split, those supporters of Lewis would be described as such in many newspapers.
Pennsylvania 1805, 1811: With the split in the Republican Party in Pennsylvania in 1805 (See
"A strong and aggressive Federalist Party had contributed much to the Republican victory in Pennsylvania in 1799. It had forged Republican unity and, by its excesses, had added large numbers to the ranks of its opponents. After the election of 1800 Federalism in the State declined precipitately; and within two years John Quincy Adams was to describe it as 'so completely palsied, that scarcely a trace of it is to be discovered except in here and there a newspaper edited by New England men.' (ft: John Quincy Adams to Rufus King, October 8, 1802 in Charles R. King (ed.) The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, 6 vols. (New York, 1894-1900), IV, 176.) Gratifying as such a metamorphosis must have been to the Republicans, it was not without its cost. The virtual disappearance of Federalism weakened the compulsion for unity and gave play to Republican differences on measures and men which by 1802 had resulted in a number of local divisions in the party." (The Keystone in the Democratic Arch: Pennsylvania Politics, 1800-1816. Sanford W. Higginbotham. 1952. p 25)
"Whatever the true explanation of these intricate political maneuvers, the  senatorial election had disclosed division in the Republican ranks. The party had begun a new era in its history." (Higginbotham, p 34)
Pennsylvania 1808, 1813-14: Michael Leib was elected in 1808 as a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. In that same year, Thomas Humphreys, a candidate for the Bank Director of the Bank of Philadelphia was described by The True American as "Leib's candidate." Later, in 1813 and 1814, factions would develop in the Republican Party and many candidates for elections in these two years would be described by The Democratic Press (Philadelphia) as Leibites.
Much of the division in Pennsylvania, and specifically, Philadelphia politics stemmed from those supporters of Simon Snyder, who was the Speaker of the House, and later Governor, and Michael Leib, whose power over the Republican party lead to the Constitutionalists, those supporters of then governor Thomas McKean, to split away from the Republican Party in Pennsylvania as a whole and form their own party for several years, from 1805-1808.
"The new era was dominated by two themes. The first of these was the national issue of supporting the administration's foreign policy, including the War of 1812. Party lines were sharply drawn, and a strong Federalist minority took an active part in politics. The second was the bitter feud between the Leib-Duane faction and the followers of Snyder. This persisted in full rancor throughout the period and was only partially subdued by the compulsion for the Democratic unity exerted by the War of 1812." (Higginbotham, p 177
"The second period, which ended with the election of 1808, was characterized by two main questions - whether the Federalist-Quid coalition was to form the basis of a permanent new party; and whether the city Democrats, led by Leib and Duane, or the country Democrats, controlled by the adherents of Snyder, should dominate the party. The growing importance of foreign relations arising out of American neutrality in the Napoleonic wars settled the first question in the negative and forced the postponement of a decision of the second. In the face of a resurgent Federalism, Pennsylvania Republicans suppressed their differences and united in a successful support of Snyder, Madison, and the embargo. Foreign affairs continued to be important for the next three years; but congressional vacillation and the relaxing of Federalist efforts within the State permitted the Snyderites and the Duane-Leib faction, now known as the Old School, to fight out their battle for control of the party. The Olmsted affair offered the occasion, and for a time it appeared that the Old School might be victorious. However, its own intemperate violence and political blundering redounded to the benefit of the Governor adn his adherents; and by 1811 Duane had forsworn State politics, and the Old School consisted only of Leib and a few hangers-on. The Snyderites not only dominated the State as a whole, but, acting through Binns, had achieved supremacy in Philadelphia." (Higginbotham, p 328-329.
Pennsylvania 1819 Speaker of the House: Joseph Lawrence is listed as a Findlayite. In the same election, Rees Hill is listed as a Binnsman by the American Republican of December 14, 1819 and as a Binnite by the Crawford Weekly Messenger (Meadville) of December 17, 1819. The Village Record of December 15, 1819 lists Lawrence as an Administration candidate and Hill as an Anti-Administration candidate.
Assembly: A gathering of persons for the purpose of deliberation and decision; a deliberative body, a legislative council. Please also see House of Representatives.
Oxford English Dictionary
Assembly or General Assembly: the name given to the lower house in New Jersey and New York.
1788 - 1825: New Jersey, New York
Office Scope: State
Role Scope: County