America In the Early 19th Century

Topic: The Birth of Political Parties in the United States

Table of Contents
Vocabulary Terms and Identifications
Important Chart
Biographies of Key Historical Figures


Overview: Parties Begin

There were 2 main political parties back in the late 1700's and early1800's. The first one was the Federalists. The Federalists were wealthy business men. They were led by Alexander Hamilton. The second party was the Democratic-Republicans. They were mostly small farm owners. The Republicans were led by Thomas Jefferson.

Vocabulary and Identifications

1) Alien Act: A law passed by the Federalists in 1798.  It gave the president power to jail or deport foreigners who are not yet citizens if they were troublesome or suspected to be spies.

2) Democratic-Republicans: Followers of Thomas Jefferson. They stressed states' rights and smaller government.

3) Sedition Act: Sedition is action that might cause people to rebel against the government. The 1798 law gave the president power to jail anyone who criticized the government.

4) Virginia & Kentucky Resolutions: These statements, developed by Madison and Jefferson, said that the Alien & Sedition Acts were unconstitutional. These statements were examples of the state's rights theory because they supported the idea of nullification.

5) Naturalization Act of 1798 : increased length of time for Foreigners to become citizens 5-14 years. Republicans had to wait for immigrants to become voters.

6) Tariff: taxes on imports. Federalists supported high tariffs on imported manufactured goods. This angered the southern agricultural states.

7) Federalists: Followers of Hamilton. They favored a strong federal government, with certain powers given to the states.

Important Chart

Thomas Jefferson
James Madison

strongest in northern farming
areas and southern and
western back country

rule by the common people
weak national government
strict construction of the Constitution
protection of states' rights
laws to help farmers
low tariffs to keep goods cheap for farmers
no national bank


Alexander Hamilton
John Adams

strongest in northern towns and coastal south

rule by wealthy, educated people
strong national government
loose construction of the Constitution
limits on states' rights
laws to help businesspeople
high tariffs to protect manufacturers in the United States
powerful national bank


Biographies of Important People
Thomas Jefferson

 Thomas Jefferson was a southern plantation owner and because of this he believed that common people, like farmers, should be able to govern them selves.  Jefferson wanted more democracy in the US government then they had in the British government.  He had a "strict" view of the constitution.  This means that he thought we should limit the power of the central government but we should have states' rights. 

 Jefferson opposed a national bank.  He felt congress had to much power especially if they could create a national bank.  Jefferson believed that the states should create their own paper money, make loans, and keep tax funds safe (this is what the national bank would do.) Jefferson also thought that we should have low tariffs to keep goods cheap for farmers and that we should make laws to help farmers in times of trouble.


Alexander Hamilton

 Alexander Hamilton was one of the youngest and smartest of the founders of the United States. Hamilton was a federalist which means that he favors a strong central government.  Hamilton wanted a limited monarchy like what Great Britain had. A monarchy is like having a king or queen.  If Hamilton couldn't have that then he wanted a strong aristocratic republic, with members of the government elected for life.  But Alexander Hamilton did support the constitution. With the help of James Madison and John Jay, he wrote a series of essays or newspaper articles that was in favor of ratification of the constitution. These paper were later collected and put together to form what we now as "The Federalists Papers." These essays helped win New York's ratification and they influenced the rest of the country.  Hamilton had a "loose" view of the constitution which means he wanted a strong central government and a limit on states' rights.  Alexander Hamilton believed that we should have a national bank. 

Fill in the blanks for #1-5 using the wordbank:

Word Bank For question 1-5
States   France   Federalists   England   Democratic-Republicans

1)_____ wanted a "strict" interpretation of the constitution
2)_____ wanted a "loose" interpretation of the constitution
3) Democratic-Republicans wanted powerful ________.
4) Federalist supported _______ during the French Revolution.
5) Democratic-Republicans wanted closer relations with ________.
Match the following vocabulary words with the definitions:
__6. Naturalization Act of 1798 
__7. Alien Act
__8. Tariffs 
__9. Sedition Act
__10. VA and KY Resolutions
A. an action that might cause people to rebel against their government
B. said Alien & Sedition Acts were unconstitutional.
C. Foreigners would now have to wait5-14 years to become citizens
D. President could send away any foreigners he thought were dangerous
E. taxes on imports




1. Democratic-Republicans
2. Federalists
3. States
4. England
5. France
6. C
7. D
8. E
9. A
10. B


George Cassutto, Unpublished documents, (c) 2000

Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia, Softkey  Multimedia Inc., (c) 1994,1995, 1996

Academic American Encyclopedia, Grolier Incorporated, Dan bury, Connecticut (c) 1998

Compton's Encyclopedia, volume 19, Compton's Learning Company, Chicago (c) 2000

Herman J. Viola, Why We Remember, Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, (c) 1998

This page is part of a web project developed by Mr. Cassutto's 7th grade US History class.

Student authors:

Page and Information Collected By:
Laura J., Brian N., Shannon G., and Brittany A.

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