Students have read about how differences between the Federalists and the Republicans
fostered the development of the first political parties. In this activity students
will review a lesson about the first transition of executive power from one
political party to another.
Students will use information from the White House Historical Society Web site
to learn about the election of 1800 and the first transition of executive power
from one political party to another. They will read about the development of
differences between the Federalists and the Republicans, the problematic influences
of political parties on the election of 1796, the campaign of 1800, and the
transition of power after the inauguration of Jefferson. Students will then
answer four questions and apply this information by sketching a political cartoon
that illustrates the tensions between the first political parties.
- Students will analyze how political differences fostered the development
of the American political party system and how the development of the party
system affected the early government.
- Students will be able to use this knowledge to sketch a political cartoon
that illustrates the tensions between the early political parties.
Student Web Activity Answers
- Leading Federalists included George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John
Adams, and Charles C. Pickney. Republican leaders included Thomas Jefferson,
James Madison, and Aaron Burr. The separate parties emerged during Washington’s
administration over disputes involving taxation and banking and the United
States’s involvement in the French Revolution. Later the parties had
opposing views on the constitutionality of the Alien and Sedition Acts and
the rights of states to nullify federal laws.
- Americans had never witnessed a transition of power from one political party
to another. Since the campaign was so heated, and the issues were so divisive,
some feared that the inauguration of Jefferson would tear the country apart.
- The writers of the Constitution, without foresight of the emergence of political
parties, designed elections so that the candidate with the second largest
electoral vote would be vice president. In the 1796 election, the Federalist
candidate, Adams, won the presidency while the Republican candidate, Jefferson,
won the vice presidency. Political parties confused the 1800 election when
Jefferson and his running mate, Aaron Burr, both Republicans, received the
same number of electoral votes. The House of Representatives elevated Jefferson
to the top post one week and thirty-six ballots later.
- Jefferson faced the task of trying to unify the country behind his presidency.
In his inaugural speech he tried to evoke a spirit of calm by saying, "We
are all republicans, we are all federalists." He also did not remove
Federalists from office.
- Students' political cartoons will vary.
Go To Student Web Activity