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tions giving rise to the formation of a new Constitution, and over the question of the new Constitution itself and of its approval or rejection, that the people gradually divided into two chief political parties. Those who were in favor of the new Constitution were called Federalists because they wished for a more effective federal union of the states; those who opposed the adoption of the Constitution were at first called Anti-Federalists, but later, after the Constitution was in fact adopted, they called themselves Democratic Republicans. Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams were the spokesmen of the Federalists, while Thomas Jefferson was for many years the acknowledged and undisputed leader of the Republicans.
Both the Federalists and the Republicans were anti-monarchical. Both accepted the idea of self-government as it had been practised in the Colonies, and both accepted the Revolution as having forever put an end to hereditary kings and a hereditary nobility in America. But they differed in their respective attitudes toward popular government, its sources of strength and of weakness, and the limitations which should be placed upon it. The Republicans were what would to-day be called a radical party, the Federalists a conservative party. Hamilton had little faith in the virtue or the wisdom of "the people,” and none at all in their capacity for efficient government. According to him only the people with property had a sufficient interest in good government to be intrusted with political power. He thought that the propertied classes, in defense of their property, would be the surest bulwark against the double danger of autocracy and anarchy, and in general the fact that a man possessed property was likely to be an evidence of industry, thrift, and intelligence. The mass of the people, if they were given power, having nothing to lose, would be keen for depriving others of that which they had themselves never been sufficiently industrious or intelligent to acquire. Hamilton therefore believed in government for the people by the most intelligent and prosperous people.
Many Federalists were not so frank as Hamilton in expressing their views, but they all shared his anti-democratic philosophy. The experience of the Revolutionary War and the years immediately following had made many men more conservative than they had once been. John Adams's enthusiasm for a republic founded on virtue had greatly cooled, and the fear of revolution replaced in his later years the fears of tyranny which had inspired him in middle age. Especially after the French Revolution had run its course, proclaiming the Terror and the de-Christianization of France, proclaiming the mission of the republic to carry the blessings of liberty and equality to all nations, conservative and conventional people everywhere came to fear revolution as a dangerous and insidious menace to established order. In their minds the word “revolution” aroused the same repulsion that the word “bolshevism” arouses in our day-it was synonymous with anarchy in government and with atheism in religion.
At the opening of the nineteenth century the “upper classes” in every European country shared these views. The Federalists were the people in America who shared them because the Federalists were for the most part the well-to-do. The strength of the Federalists was greater in New England than in the South, greater in the centers of trade and industry than in the farming districts, greater among the educated than among the uneducated, greater among the rich than among the poor.
The Federalists therefore voted for the Federal Constitution and were in favor of enlarging the functions of the federal government, not only because a strong federal government would serve the economic interests of the industrial and moneyed classes, but also because it would be less amenable to popular control than state governments had been, and would serve as a needed check upon such radical political tendencies as might find expression in certain parts of the country. The dangerous ideas of Thomas Jefferson might gain complete ascendancy in Virginia, but as long as the Federal Constitution held, the state of Virginia would never be able to carry out a program that involved anything so revolutionary or Jacobinical as “impairing the obligation of a contract.'
The bad odor of the word “revolution” was easily communicated to the word “republican,” since it was the French Republic that inaugurated the Terror and made the name of revolution hateful. Therefore the Federalists feared Jefferson and his “Republican” followers not only because they professed to have entire faith in the capacity of the people for government, but because they still retained the sympathy with the revolutionary, movement in France which nearly every one had expressed in the days before the Terror. The fear was genuine enough in most cases, but it was also good politics to fasten upon their opponents the terrible names “Jacobins” and “atheists,” and to denounce them as men who desired to destroy government, confiscate property, and abolish morality.
The bitterness with which the Federalists
attacked Jefferson, the solemn confidence with which they assured the public that the Republicans were the desperate and determined enemies of the human race, is almost incredible. July 7, 1801, after the inauguration of Jefferson as President, Theodore Dwight, an intelligent and educated New England Federalist, delivered an address in which he gave vent to the following sentiment:
The great object of Jacobinism, both in its political and moral revolution, is to destroy every trace of civilization in the world and force mankind back into a savage state. We have now reached the consummation of democratic blessedness. [He is referring to the election of Jefferson.) We have a country governed by blockheads and knaves; the ties of marriage with all its felicities are severed and destroyed; our wives and daughters are thrown into the stews; our children are cast into the world from the breast and forgotten; filial piety is extinguished, and surnames, the only mark of distinction among families, are abolished. Can the imagination paint anything more dreadful on this side of hell?
It would indeed have been difficult for the imagination, even of an excited New England Federalist, to paint anything more dreadfulor anything more remote from the wishes or the purpose of the humane and kindly leader of the Republican party. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence,