Analyzing the Partisan Politics Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Partisan Politics

At the time the U.S. Constitution was ratified, the new America of the 19th century saw its indigenes with varied political opinions. Those in favor of a powerful central government and therefore, a restraint of the powers the states possessed were part of the Federalist Party; those with the belief that interpretation should be given to the Constitution in order to reduce the powers the national government wields, which would further empower the states, became part of the Republican PartyTherefore, The Federalists adopted a nationalistic opinion; the Republicans, although they would not refute the efficiency of the central government, held the opinion that certain rights ought to be kept for the states. Thus, this essay will explore the aforementioned idea (Writer Thoughts). It will examine how the Federalist philosophy and ideas shaped modern American Society.

Supporters of the Constitution

The proposed American Constitution's advocates labeled themselves as "Federalists." This adopted name indicated a dedication to a decentralized and loose governmental system. "Federalism," in several respects, refers to a powerful central government. Federalists believed a Constitution was necessary for safeguarding the independence and liberty produced by the American Revolution (Federalists). Though they had certainly developed a novel political philosophy, Federalists believed their greatest role was, defending social benefits brought about by the Revolution. According to a prominent Federalist leader, James Madison, the U.S. Constitution aimed at becoming a Republican cure for the illnesses most likely to occur in the Republican government.

Federalists' cause was assisted by not only a carefully selected name, but a new and inventive political plan. A number of the best leaders of that age, who were exposed to maximum national work, were, indeed, Federalists. For instance, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, the only 2 celebrities of that age, recognized across America, were in favor of the Constitution. Aside from the support of these two imposing personalities, Federalists were efficient, had ample funds, and were exceedingly careful in their use of mass media (Federalists). A majority of newspapers supported their political plan, publishing pamphlets and articles for explaining why citizens need to accept and support the Constitution.

The Federalist Papers

The Independent Journal published its very first essay supporting Federalist ideologies in one of its October 1787 issues, merely four weeks following the Constitution's presentation by the Constitutional Convention for states' approval. A whopping eighty-four essays, each strongly favoring the Constitution, followed, which were issued serially in the newspapers of New York in the course of the next six months. Compiled at a later date into one consolidated volume titled The Federalist, this collection of Federalist essays is regarded as one among the most significant articulations of the political philosophy of USA to date.

The political idea articulated in the famous Federalist Papers is grounded on theories of Europe's Enlightenment philosophes, U.S. experience with the Articles of Confederation, and historical examples. The essays offered philosophical theories and historical arguments with regard to the governments' and individuals' natures, in addition to harsh disapprovals of the Articles' shortcomings. The essays' overall purpose was: convincing the citizens of America that the presence of a stronger and more active centralized government for the nation would serve to strengthen their liberty. However, the theoretical premise that excessive liberty may prove harmful for a well-ordered American society was proven during the "Articles of Confederation era" of the U.S. government. These Articles only offered a loose association of independent American states, with the federal government resting in one legislative body termed as the "Congress," which was only authorized to pass legislations on mutual defense-related matters. Apprehensive of forming a powerful central government akin to that of Great Britain, American delegates decided to place considerable power with states, and significantly restricted national government powers. The Congress was hindered by its lack of authority to enforce the laws it passed, gather funds, offer binding and consistent judgment on every member state, or regulate trade.

Impact during the 19th Century

The dual federalism concept states that: state and national governments were equals, each having their own unique and independent spheres of influence. In spite of the implied powers doctrine, first stated in the McCulloch v. Maryland case, the national/federal government had limited authority to exercise Constitutional powers. Scant collaboration existed between state and national governments, and sporadic tensions arose over the union's nature and the state sovereignty and nullification doctrine. The debate on state rights and the union's nature -- whether the U.S. Constitution succeeded in creating a union of sovereign American states or an inseparable one -was a leading question in the nation's Civil War. Congress, in the year 1791, established the First Bank of the United States at Alexander Hamilton's urging. The Federalists were of the view that any bank with bills whose currency is in all parts of the states would be a lot more convenient than one whose currency is only limited to one state (MacDonald, 1905 page 71). The Central Bank, in the year 1816, was chartered newly as the Second Bank of the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court, in the year 1819 upheld the constitutional authority of the Congress in chartering this Bank in the McCulloch v. Maryland case under the implied powers doctrine and the proper and necessary clause of the Constitution's first article. John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, in writing its unanimous verdict in favor of the Congress' constitutional power of national bank establishment, agreed that the U.S. national governmental powers were restricted to expressed powers (i.e., those listed within the Constitution), but also agreed that the First Article authorized the Congress (or national government) to pass proper and necessary laws for carrying out the duties and powers listed in the Constitution (Boyd, 1997). Therefore, national bank establishment, while not an openly Constitution-sanctioned power, was still an appropriate Congressional activity, coming under the implied powers doctrine, which allowed the U.S. national government a chance to execute express powers, authority, or duties, like tax levying and collection, borrowing funds, and issuing currency. In 1798, a Federalist-regulated U.S. Congress passed its Sedition and Alien Acts for silencing the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican criticizers of the nation's undeclared war against France. As a response, Virginian and Kentuckian Democratic-Republican-regulated legislatures passed resolutions in support of the state-focused federalism concept, nullifying the two Acts as being unconstitutional. The nullification doctrine maintained that all states were authorized to suspend, within their own boundaries, the implementation or working of any national/federal law considered unconstitutional by them. The Sedition and Alien Acts contributed greatly to the Federalist Party's defeat, and were annulled before the U.S. Supreme Court had a chance to hear them challenged. The Alien Act, so to speak, can be summed up very easily. According to the Act, it shall be legal for the United States President at any given time, that falls within the Act's continuance itself, to give an order for everyone of such aliens, as he shall deem dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States, to move out of the territories within the United States (MacDonald, 1905 page 142). It equally states that every captain of a ship is expected to give a report of every one of the aliens found aboard the ship. The crime known as treason is handled by the Sedition Act.

Federalism Seen in 20th Century- Today

In the sixties, concerns were voiced with regard to intergovernmental grant structure, with particular emphasis on duplication, overlap, confusion, and fragmentation. Such concerns led to efforts by the administrations of Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon to redirect federal power relations. The chief tools of these Administrations were sharing of revenues and federal assistance initiatives' consolidation into 6 exclusive revenue sharing initiatives. The aim was: shifting funds, responsibility, and authority to local and state governments in a bid to manage intergovernmental grant structure more effectively (Boyd, 1997). Although it wasn't entirely successful, Nixon's regime managed to recast the discussion on various governmental levels' roles. In many instances, some of which were narrowly decided, the U.S. Supreme Court has offered sufficient evidence of the fact that the judicial restraint era might be over when it comes to federalism, as well as federal-state power relationships. In the 1985 Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority case, the Court announced that states need to redress using congressional regulation via the legislative/political process, rather than the judiciary. A number of recent cases, like the New York v. United States, Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, and United States v. Lopez, have witnessed the Court adopting an increasingly activist role, restricting federal government powers, and narrowing its own interpretation of commerce clause to support state rights. For instance, in the 1992 New York v. United States case, the Court set about declaring unconstitutional 1985 Low Level Radioactive Waste Policy Amendments Act provisions.


The U.S. Constitution, as of this day, is also driven by the federalism concept when it comes to constructing the nation's government. In the system of federalism, smaller political elements (e.g., localities, cities, counties, and states) integrate in…

Sources Used in Document:


Boyd. "American Federalism, 1776 to 1997: Significant Events." USA Embassy. N.p., 1997. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. .

"Constitution of the United States." The Free Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. .

"Federalists." U.S. History. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2016. .

MacDonald, William. Select Documents Illustrative of the History of the United States, 1776-1861. N.p.: Macmillan, n.d. Google Books. 1905. Web. 26 Mar. 2016. .

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