Formation of Political Parties
Political factions or parties began to form during the struggle over ratification of the federal Constitution of 1787. Friction between them increased as attention shifted from the creation of a new federal government to the question of how powerful that federal government would be. The Federalists, led by Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton, wanted a strong central government, while the Anti-Federalists, led by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, advocated states’ rights instead of centralized power. Federalists coalesced around the commercial sector of the country while their opponents drew their strength from those favoring an agrarian society. The ensuing partisan battles led George Washington to warn of “the baneful effects of the spirit of party” in his Farewell Address as president of United States.
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