1796 the Federalist Party and the Democratic – Republican Party competed for
office for the first time resulting in the rise of partisan. Federalists advocated a strong national
government to promote economic development while Democratic-Republicans
believed that limited government would foster republican virtue. Federalist
John Adams won that election. During his term due to the Quasi-War, congress
passed the Alien and Sedition Acts. It was intended to increase national
security. The Sedition Act was controversial because it penalized those who
were found guilty of speaking or writing in a malicious manner against the US
government. Democratic-Republicans took the opportunity to argue that
Federalist were trying to take individual liberties and expand national
government powers (Norton, 2015). . In this case it violated the First
Amendment. The Federalist Party became divided when President Adams agreed to
and signed the Treaty of Mortefontaine, officially ending the unofficial
Quasi-War in 1800. Alexander Hamilton criticized Adams on his ability in handling
foreign affairs (Partisan Politics, n.d.).
Jefferson a Democratic-Republican won the election of 1800. This was the first
political party transfer in American history. President Jefferson believed in
majority rule (Partisan Politics, n.d.). He envisioned increased states’ rights
with limited the power of the federal government, lowering taxes and decreasing
support of ordinary people the democrats opposed to special privileges for
the elites. A goal was to provide affordable western land to ordinary people
consequently moving Native Americans further.
While also supporting war with Mexico to gain more territory (Shmoop Editorial Team, 2008). They favored
smaller national government. They valued economic, social and cultural
Whigs believed in using strong national government power to improve American
life therefore they supported public institutions such as schools, a national
university, scientific research and hospitals through large public
expenditures. They supported a strong central bank. Unlike the democrats they
opposed expansion (History.com Staff, 2009).
party was led by Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, John C. Calhoun, James K.
Polk and Lewis Cass. Andrew Jackson won the election of 1828. Then Martin Van
Buren would follow and became president in 1837.
Whig party was led by John Quincy Admas, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, William
H. Seward and Thurlow Weed. John Quincy Adams won the election of 1824. Henry
Clay became the Secretary of State.
supporters were ordinary farmers and workers.
supporters were people engaged in commerce, protestants, moralists and those
who were against slavery and the mistreatment of Native Americans
(History.com Staff, 2009).
Jackson furthered democratization of American politics by presenting himself as
the champion for the common man since he too was a common man at one point and
rose to presidency through hard work. By the 1840’s 90 percent of white men had
the power to vote since they removed the requirement of owning land or pay
taxes (Ushistory.org, 2018). By the 1850’s the common man demanded a place
in politics. Democratization was increase during the Second Party System by
allowing more white men to vote. Decades later blacks and women would
successfully demand a place in politics as well.
Mostly people in
the South favored slavery. They deemed in necessary for economic growth and
survival since the economy was strongly dependent on cotton production which
was largely cultivated and harvested by slave labor. Senator Henry James
Hammond believed there was a need for slavery because according to him there
must be a lower class for the upper class to rest upon which in turn moves
civilization forward (Pro-Slavery Ideology in the Antebellum South, 2015).
Others plain believed that whites were superior to blacks. That blacks were
uncivilized and freed slaves would cause unemployment and chaos. William Joseph
Harper saw slavery as a positive social good rather than an evil. Supporters
used religion and passages from bibles to justify the institution. Arguments
ranged from Abraham owning slaves, Paul returning a runaway slave, to
Jesus/Christ not speak out against it.
Douglass was an abolitionist who also happened to be a freed slave. He wrote
about the harsh conditions he lived through and being taken away from his
mother and sold to a different owner. This was a reality for many slaves. They
didn’t know when or if they were going to be torn apart from their family. Many
who were, never saw them ever again. Religion was also used as an argument for
anti-slavery. Douglas believed that enslavement was a sin since people were
created in God’s image therefore it was wrong to buy and sell humans (Noell,
2012). Another point was that America was supposed to be the land of the free
not the land of the free for whites only.
expansion caused tension between the North and South because non-slave owners
did not wish to compete with slave owners for new territories. The Missouri
Compromise was set to reduce tensions between anti-slavery and pro-slavery
supporters when Missouri was conquered through the Louisiana Purchase and
requested to join the Union as a slave state. It was controversial because the
entrance of Missouri would throw off the balance. At the time the states had 11
free states and 11 slave states. In order to keep the balance, The Missouri
Compromise was passed, it allowed Missouri to become a slave state but also
admitted Maine as a free state and slavery was prohibited from the north of the
southern boundary of Missouri. The problem with the compromise is that it
didn’t abolish slavery and people moved west to other territories such as
Texas, California, and New Mexico. At the time those territories belonged to
Mexico who later petition to join the union. Southerners did not want more free
states. That’s why they were reluctant to allow California to enter the union
when they petitioned for statehood as a free state in 1849 (Halabi, 2015). Once
again the addition of California would offset the balance to 16 to 15. In order
to allow the admittance of California, congress agreed to place no restrictions
on slavery on Utah and New Mexico and passed the Fugitive Slave Act (Missouri
Compromise, n.d.). The act required everyone to return runaway slaves back to
their owners. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 raised sectional tensions the
most when it was passed because not only did it violate the Missouri Compromise
of 1820 but through popular severity people would decide if it was a slave state
or not. Abolitionist paid other
abolitionist to live there and slave supporters did the same in attempt to get
the majority vote. People crossed the Missouri border just to cast a vote
leading to violence. The U.S. Army had to intervene because that almost lead
Kansas to a civil war of its own (WGU, 2016).
significant legislation that led to the civil war was the Compromise of 1850.
This compromise prevented more territorial expansion of slavery while also
enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act. The act required Northerners to return
runaway slaves to the South. This caused resentment because it forced Northerners
to participate in an institution they were against. In 1852 the release of Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher
Stowe, a fictional book of slave life caused mixed feelings. The Northerners
saw it as an eye opener. While Southerners were enraged and felt it was
slanderous. With it being the second-best-selling book at the time, it was an
influential piece of literature. It’s clear there is a major conflict when
cases make their way up to the Supreme Court. That is what happened in when slave
Dred Scott sued for his freedom in 1857 in the case of Dred Scott v. Sanford. The
verdict was that he was considered property therefore he didn’t have any legal
rights. The verdict cause even more confusion since now slaves were merely
property (Trigger Events of the Civil War, n.d.).