Hey there Sweets1,
Essentially, we have what is usually called a two party system in this
country today because of two men: Alexander Hamilton and Thomas
Jefferson. It was their philosophies and strength of character around
which our two party system evolved.
The two men obviously had differences; that is why whole political
schools of thought grew up around them and their beliefs. Hamilton
feared anarchy and believed in the strength of law and order, along
with a broad interpretation of the powers of the new U. S.
Constitution. He favored a liberal interpretation of the document
that gave wide powers to the Federal Government. Jefferson on the
other hand, having just come off a war against the oppression of one
country over another, feared tyranny. He favored a more literal
interpretation of the Constitution and thought that governmental
powers shouldnt be so far-reaching.
Jefferson and Hamiltons differing interpretations came to a head over
the creation of the National Bank. From the Department of States
International Information Programs web site, on a page titled CHAPTER
4: The Formation of a National Government:
The United States needed both influences. It was the country's good
fortune that it had both men and could, in time, fuse and reconcile
their philosophies. One clash between them, which occurred shortly
after Jefferson took office as secretary of state, led to a new and
profoundly important interpretation of the Constitution. When Hamilton
introduced his bill to establish a national bank, Jefferson objected.
Speaking for those who believed in states' rights, Jefferson argued
that the Constitution expressly enumerates all the powers belonging to
the federal government and reserves all other powers to the states.
Nowhere was it empowered to set up a bank.
Hamilton contended that because of the mass of necessary detail, a
vast body of powers had to be implied by general clauses, and one of
these authorized Congress to "make all laws which shall be necessary
and proper" for carrying out other powers specifically granted. The
Constitution authorized the national government to levy and collect
taxes, pay debts and borrow money. A national bank would materially
help in performing these functions efficiently. Congress, therefore,
was entitled, under its implied powers, to create such a bank.
Washington and the Congress accepted Hamilton's view -- and an
important precedent for an expansive interpretation of the federal
So, this issue polarized political thinkers and the upshot eventually
became the two party system. One thing that becomes apparent is that
in this original polarization of political minds, philosophy and The
Greater Good seemed to be on everyones mind. Eventually, politics
came to mean money and power, and so the ideals moved away from airy
philosophy and humanitarianism, and moved ever closer to the system
that we see today, with no firm ideology separating the two sides, and
money being the basis of all of the issues.
On the web site AP Review, which is a site that prepares students to
take the AP exams, is a great article written by a student that covers
this exact point. Following are the first two paragraphs:
The Second Two Party System
Submitted by Ryan Williams
In the early part of our nations history the political landscape was
continually changing and rapidly evolving. After the birth of American
partisan politics, which came about as a result of the debate over the
national bank, many organizations affiliated with certain beliefs and
principles came forward to try to voice their opinions. They were
determined to gain power and to take control of the fledgling nation,
in an attempt to shape the country a way that they thought would
benefit the American. However many heated debates developed over the
issue of what really was the right course of action for the nation.
These different sides became incorporated into a two party systems
that provided a stage form them to quarrel and grapple over their
concerns and issues. However, one can easily see as time progressed
and the young country evolved, so did the political parties and the
system that they participated in.
The first two party system developed between the two opposite groups
called the Federalists and the Democratic Republicans. The main issue
between the two parties was how they believed the Constitution should
be read and interpreted. The federalists, such as Hamilton, Adams and
Jay, were loose constructionists who believed that more power and
jurisdiction that was not specified in the Constitution should be
placed in the hands of the Federal government. They were also
passionate believers in the idea of a strong central government that
had the power to regulate domestic and foreign affairs, while having
the ultimate authority over the states.
The evolution of the present two parties from the original parties of
Jefferson and Hamiltons day is also interesting to study. For a
brief run-down on the history of the major political parties in
America, go to the Nando Times archive:
History of Political Parties
Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic Party of the United States in
1792 and was elected as the first Democratic President in 1800. The
Party was called the "Democratic-Republicans" until after 1830 and was
initially established as a Congressional Caucus to fight for people's
rights and to oppose the elite Populist Party.
In 1808 James Madison was elected President. During his term he led
the nation to victory in the Mexican/American War of 1812 by
strengthening the armed forces.
In 1816 James Monroe was elected President and the Monroe Doctrine was
It was not until 1828 when Andrew Jackson was elected as President
that the national convention process, the party platform and the
reunification of the issue of states rights were established.
In 1844 under the direction of James Polk, the Oregon Territory was
annexed. The U.S. defeated Mexico and gained the Republic of Texas and
the southwestern territories.
The 1860's were tough years for the Democratic Party. It had formally
split over slavery. The North faction was led by Stephen A. Douglas
and the South faction was led by Sen. John F. Breckenridge.
The year 1963 was an important year for the Democrats with Lyndon
Johnson as President. The Civil Rights Act was passed, it was a year
for the creation of Medicare.
The Democratic Party headquarters has been housed in numerous
locations throughout Washington and New York including the Mayflower
Hotel and of course, the Watergate. In December of 1984, the
Democratic Party Headquarters relocated to 430 S. Capital St. SE,
Washington, CDC - which is their first owned facility for the
Democratic Party. It was built at a cost of about $6.5 million.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was our only four-term president, serving
from 1933 to 1945. His administrations guided us through the Great
Depression and World War II in addition to creating numerous programs
such as Social Security.
Founded in 1854, the Republican Party was organized as an answer
to the turmoil that plagued the many existing political parties in the
United States. The Free Soil Party, asserting that all men had a
natural right to the soil, demanded that the government re-evaluate
homesteading legislation and grant land to settlers free of charge.
The Conscience Whigs, the "radical" faction of the Whig Party in the
North, alienated themselves from their Southern counterparts by
adopting an anti-slavery position. And the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which
allowed territories to determine whether slavery would be legalized in
accordance with "popular sovereignty" and thereby nullify the
principles of the Missouri Compromise, created a schism within the
On July 6, 1854, in Jackson, Mich., the Republican Party formally
organized itself by holding its first convention, adopting a platform
and nominating a full slate of candidates for state offices. Other
states soon followed, and the first Republican candidate for
president, John C. Fremont, ran in 1856 with the slogan "Free soil,
free labor, free speech, free men, Fremont."
The principles of the Reform that Ross Perot and other candidates of
the Reform Party pledge to follow are below: High Ethnical Standards
for the White House and Congressional Members Balance the Budget
Campaign Reform Term Limit Create a New Tax System Medicare, Medicade,
and Social Security Reform
The Libertarian Party is America's third-largest and fastest-growing
political party. Libertarians engage in a variety of projects, working
for everyone's liberty on every issue. The Libertarian Party was
created in December of 1971 by people who felt that the politicians
had strayed from America's original libertarian foundation, with
disastrous results. Their vision was the same as that of America's
founders - a world where individuals are free to follow their own
dreams in their own ways; a world of peace, harmony, opportunity, and
Hope this answers your question.
national bank american history
two parties american history
political party evolution america
history of political parties in america