Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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FEDERAL PARTY, The (IN U. S. HISTORY). The origin of the party, in the political segregation of the commercial and business elements from the mass of the people, is given elsewhere. (See ANTI-FEDERAL, PARTY.) But though the mass of the party was thus commercial, it had many leaders and an important part of its own body who held very different views. These were most affected by the reflection that the revolution, by taking the United States out of the British empire, had practically taken them out of the family of nations. They desired a place in the civilized world, a recognized rank among nations—nationality—not a league of separate nations. They therefore wished for order, prosperity and an energetic government, not, like the rest of their party, for the sake of commerce and business, but for the sake of the nation. This, the only valuable political element in the federal party, and the precursor of two other and greater parties which were afterward to take part in the seventy-five years' (1790-1865) work of nationalizing the government, was stronger in leaders than in following. The country, which had comparatively little real national feeling as yet, was not ready for it, and the commercial party, which had at first supported it, proved in the end a faithless ally. The history of the party falls naturally into two periods, one (1789-1801) in which the alliance between its two elements, and its own hold upon power, grew yearly weaker, and a second (1801-20) in which it grew less and less influential until it disappeared, its nationalizing principle reviving again with stronger power of assertion in the whig and republican parties. (See those parties; also NATION, UNITED STATES)


—I. 1789-1801. The process of the adoption of the constitution was exceedingly complex. The underlying difficulty was in most cases that of overcoming the repulsive force not only of the two sections, north and south, each of which had many elements ready for separate nationality, but also of the thirteen distinct political units which composed those sections. But on the surface other causes were more actively apparent. At first, while the idea of the former congressional structure governed the deliberations of the convention of 1787, the "large states" pressed the national plan earnestly. After the new political factor, the senate, was introduced, the large states became recalcitrant, and finally ratified the constitution with great reluctance. When, however, the confusion of the conflict had cleared away, it was found that the advantages accruing to large and small states were fairly balanced, and that the substantial fruits of victory had been gathered by the commercial classes, including in that term all interests not agricultural, excepting manufactures, which were as yet of no great importance. It was to their behoof that the control over individual citizens, over the army, over the navy, over taxation for national purposes, over commercial regulations, was to be exercised in future by a federal government, not by a jarring congeries of state legislatures; and their activity, intelligence, influence, and hearty support of the constitution secured to them in 1789 a control of the new federal government so complete that it would be difficult to specify a federal office not then held by a federalist, for even Jefferson and Randolph were professedly of that party. This initial success of the commercial party was due to a fortuitous combination of three assisting circumstances, none of which could fairly be relied upon as permanent. 1. Washington's experience of the confederation during the revolution had predisposed him to favor an energetic republican government, and he therefore became the central figure of the federal party, in spite of his own efforts to stand outside of party. Throughout the northern and middle states the right of suffrage was then very generally restricted to freeholders, the small farmers being the controlling class. With these Washington's name was all powerful, and through its silent influence their support was secured for the ratification of the constitution, and afterward for the federal party. 2. In the south, where Washington's influence was by no means so potent, a weaker but still respectable element, very similar to the last, was brought to the support of the constitution and the federalists by the influence of Madison and others, who were actuated far more by contempt for the extreme weakness of the confederation than by desire for a very energetic government in its place. 3. The opposition (see ANTI-FEDERAL PARTY) was utterly disorganized. Its natural leaders of the Madison class had gone over to the federalists, its only principle of cohesion, opposition to the constitution, had disappeared with the translation of the government to a new form; and those of its members who were chosen to the 1st congress at first followed the prudent course of abstaining from open opposition to federalist measures. We are therefore indebted almost entirely to the federal party, in which, however, the Madison element was as yet included, for all the work of the first session by which the administrative machinery of the government was put into shape as it still remains. The excellent organization of the executive departments, of the federal judiciary, and of the territories, is always with us as a memorial of the administrative ability of the dead and almost forgotten federal party.


—The party had at first been satisfied with the obtaining of order and guarantees for commerce, foreign and domestic; but the remarkable and immediate contrast between the national results of the first or extra session of congress (March 4-Sept. 29, 1789) and the preceding chaos of the confederation had a natural and constant tendency to convert it to nationalizing views. The nationalization of the government had for years been the ruling desire of Alexander Hamilton, Washington's secretary of the treasury, and he now proved his title to the leadership of a party which was but approaching the standard which he had long fixed upon. At the second session of this congress (Jan. 4-Aug. 12, 1790) he offered to the house of representatives his "plan for the settlement of the public debt," which contained several features certain to obtain the support of the party both in its commercial and in its newer nationalizing aspect. Its first recommendation, the payment of the foreign debt in full, was adopted unanimously. The second recommendation, the funding and payment at par of the domestic or "continental" debt, which had fallen far below par, was opposed by members from agricultural districts as a commercial measure which would only benefit speculators, who were busily buying the evidences of debt from holders ignorant of their value. Madison here diverged from the federalists, and urged payment in full to original holders and the market value to holders by purchase; but Hamilton's recommendation was finally adopted. The third recommendation, the assumption of state debts incurred in the revolution, was opposed as a nationalizing measure, designed to degrade the states, to represent them as delinquent debtors, and to attract the permanent support of the capital of the country to the federal government. It was carried in committee of the whole, March 9, by a vote of 31 to 26; but an anti-federalist reinforcement of seven members from the new state of North Carolina turned the scale, and assumption having been reconsidered, April 12, was lost by a majority of two. It was, however, again introduced and carried by a bargain. (See CAPITAL, NATIONAL.) Hamilton's first false step, however triumphant at first view, was in thus springing upon his supporters in congress, without securing the acquiescence of their non-commercial leaders, this sweeping plan of financial reform, which he might easily have made acceptable both to them and to their commercial allies, and a new bond of union between the two. Confident in his own ability and in his own rectitude of intention, he demanded from the Madisonian element a blind support which it would not give, and the result was suspicion and alienation. For the next two years Madison, while supporting many isolated points of Hamilton's policy, is no longer the great federal pillar of debate in the house.


—At the third session of this congress (Dec. 6, 1790-March 3, 1791), two further items in Hamilton's policy were adopted. It is probable that his proposition to assume state debts had been intended to force, by an increase of debt, the prompt exercise of federal powers, and particularly of the power to lay excises, which had hitherto been in the states and was unfamiliar as an appanage of the federal government, though expressly granted by the constitution. (See INTERNAL REVENUE, WHISKY INSURRECTION.) On his recommendation an excise law, laying taxes on distilled spirits, was passed, March 3, 1791, and "The Bank of the United States" was chartered by acts of Feb. 25 and March 2, 1791. This last measure met a strong opposition, led by Madison in the house, and by Jefferson and Randolph in the cabinet. (See BANK CONTROVERSIES, II.) The arguments in its favor show that Ames, Sedgwick and other federalist leaders had now fully assimilated Hamilton's broad construction theory, which defended every attempt to increase the national, as distinguished from the state, power and influence, on the ground of the power granted to congress to pass all laws "necessary and proper for carrying into execution" the enumerated powers. Who was to judge of the necessity and propriety of a doubtful law? Congress itself, said Hamilton and his supporters, governed in the exercise of its discretion by its direct responsibility to the people, and secured from the evil effects of possible error by the conservative influence of the federal judiciary. (See CONSTRUCTION, II.)


—Within the limits of a single congress, then, Hamilton had raised his party from the narrow basis of commercial interest to the broader foundations of nationalization, and he had done it almost unaided. He had taught the commercial classes that their safety and prosperity were best secured by close alliance with the federal government, and they in their turn had so reacted on their congressional representatives as to make them Hamilton's eager followers. Before 1790 we find many half-uttered hopes for a more energetic central government than the confederation; Hamilton and his measures first made "the nation" a political force. It was, indeed, but a blind and vague force as yet, and was destined soon to be rejected by the commercial selfishness which was at first its only available conservator; but the principle survived, and American politics has even since felt the growing impulse which was first directly given by Hamilton's measures. Before the end of the 1st congress, the federal party was fairly committed to a support of his policy, which was in general as follows, though portions of it were never successfully carried out: 1. With a reliance upon agriculture as a basis for exportations and foreign commerce, duties on imports were generally made high, with the view of encouraging infant American manufactures by prohibiting the importation of articles which could be manufactured here, and of drawing a larger revenue from articles whose importation was beyond control. (See PROTECTION.) 2. The power of internal taxation was at once asserted and enforced. 3. The superfluous revenue, after the payment of the debt which had originally compelled the adoption of the first two measures, was to be devoted to the formation of a strong navy which was to protect commerce; and 4, to the increase of the army, and the first opportunity was to be taken to convince ill-disposed states or ill-disposed individuals that both had at last found their master. Such was the magnificent structure which the federal party proposed to erect upon a soil which had been, but a few months before, the shifting quicksand of the confederation. It is not wonderful that the more "high flying" federalists often regretted that the national government had not been made still stronger and the states still weaker, and that they felt considerable distrust of their ability to carry out their plans to the end as the government was then constituted. It is certain that their incautious utterances soon enabled their political enemies to charge them with a design of converting the government into a monarchy or an oligarchy, under the guise of a "higher-toned" government.


—During the 2d congress (Oct. 24, 1791-March 2, 1793) the federal party retained its majority in congress and continued its work of organizing a national government. The postoffice system was completely organized; the army and the tariff were increased; bounties were granted for the encouragement of fisheries; and the president was formally authorized to call out the state militia as a national instrument for enforcing the laws. But before the end of this congress the reaction had begun under the lead of Jefferson, the secretary of state, and his first auxiliaries were drawn from the Madison element which Hamilton had so unluckily estranged. When resolutions censuring Hamilton's official conduct were brought up in the house, late in February, 1793, Madison took an open stand in their favor, and was one of the small minority of seven who finally voted for them. He was now in close and confidential alliance with Jefferson. (See DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICAN PARTY, II.) His loss, which was really the beginning of the end, was under-estimated or contemptuously disregarded by Hamilton, who mistakenly relied upon the still federalist states of South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware to counterbalance Virginia and prevent the formation of a controlling southern party.


—In the 3d congress (Dec. 2, 1793-March 3, 1795) the federalists controlled the senate by a small majority. By a party vote (14 to 12) the seat of Gallatin, of Pennsylvania, was vacated for ineligibility, and the new federalist legislature chose James Ross in his stead, thus making a reliable majority in the senate. In the house the election of the speaker was contested for the first time, and the federalists were beaten by a majority of ten. In such a divided congress it was sufficient success for the federalists to maintain the ground they had already won, but they succeeded further in supporting the president in his proclamation of neutrality between England and France in his management of the French ambassador (see GENET, CITIZEN), and in his suppression of the whisky insurrection.


—In one important respect the prospect for the party was unpropitious. The long conflict between Great Britain and France had begun, in which it was inevitable that the former's most powerful weapon, her navy, would be used to the oppression of American commerce. (See EMBARGO, I.) Here, again, the assumption of the state debts worked for ill, for its increase of the national debt and interest gave the opposition a fair excuse for opposing successfully the formation of a navy which could compel respect, and even embarrassed the federalists very apparently in their attempts to secure this corner stone of a true national policy. This failure to begin a navy in 1794-5 was the real death warrant of the federalists as a political party. Prevented from protecting commerce by force, they were constrained to resort to accommodation with Great Britain (see JAY'S TREATY), and, though this policy of palliation was successful for the time, its inevitable and cumulative effect was to undo Hamilton's work of nationalization, and to degrade the party again to the position of a mere commercial association, dependent on the favor of Great Britain not only for prosperity, but even for existence. This effect was not immediately apparent, however, and the power of the party never seemed greater, even in 1798, than at the close of the year 1796. It had then completely organized the government after its own ideas, had very considerably established the broad construction of the constitution, had compelled even the assurance of a French republican envoy of 1793 to respect the neutrality of the United States, had put down with the strong hand the first symptom of revolt against the federal government, had forced an unwilling house of representatives to carry Jay's treaty with Great Britain into effect, and in the first contested election had seated its candidate, John Adams, in the presidency. (See ELECTORAL VOTES, III.) "Against us," said Jefferson, in his Mazzei letter of April 27, 1796, "are the executive, the judiciary, two out of three branches of the legislature, all the officers of the government, and all who want to be officers." But the party's tenure of power was nevertheless weak. Jefferson had been but three electoral votes behind Adams, thus becoming vice-president; and he alleges that the real vote was 70 to 69, instead of 71 to 68, one republican elector in Pennsylvania having failed to vote, and a federalist having been received in his place. But a far more ominous circumstance was the geographical character of the vote. The federalists had lost South Carolina, and only received two chance votes in the whole south, outside of Delaware and Maryland (see those states), while in the north they had lost all but one of Pennsylvania's votes. Jefferson's ability as a leader and organizer was fast depriving them of the assistance they had at first received from the disorganization of the opposition, and unless some new factor could be found to replace the influence of Washington, his approaching retirement would enable the opposition every year to make fresh inroads further north, and finally to circumscribe the commercial interest within its own geographical limits.


—Indications may be found in the debates that some of the federalist leaders, particularly Fisher Ames, saw their proper course in a conjunction of internal improvements and an energetic naval policy; but the latter was barred by the necessity of providing for the interest of the debt, and the former alone would have demanded a wisdom of self-sacrifice to which the commercial party had not attained. Instead of both, they grasped eagerly at the possibility of war with France (see X. Y. Z. MISSION) in 1798, and used it as a make-shift. In the senate they had a clear majority, and in the house the flame of popular anger, roused by the outrageous demands of the French directory, either silenced or converted most of the republicans, and gave the control of that body also to the federalists. If they had now reduced all other expenses to the lowest possible limits, and put every available resource into the increase of the navy, it was not yet too late to change the course of history on two continents. Party passion, however, and the treasured bitterness of past political struggles, hurried them further. A regular army was at once formed under cover of Washington's nominal command, ostensibly to guard against a mythical French invasion; the passage of the alien and sedition laws was almost avowedly an attempt to suppress the few republican newspapers, whose scurrilous attacks had long been a thorn to the dignity of the federalist leaders; and these needless exhibitions of party zeal more than neutralized the increase of the navy to twenty-four vessels.


—During the 6th congress (Dec. 2, 1799-March 3, 1801), which had been elected in the very crisis of the war fever of 1798, the federalists had a majority in both houses, and yet the symptoms of disintegration in the party became steadily more apparent. Its two wings, the commercial and the nationalizing elements, which had been clamped together only by Hamilton's adroit use of Washington's authoritative influence, were already falling apart. Hamilton was now a private citizen of New York, and was governed more by his hatred for President Adams than by political prudence. Adams, who disliked Great Britain and showed no officious subservience to commercial interests, was the embodiment of that nationalizing feeling afterward more strongly developed in the whig and republican parties. He had earned the distrust of the Hamilton faction by his willingness to make peace with France, when he found that nation earnestly anxious for peace (see ADAMS, JOHN), and the party's embarrassment at this loss of its only available stock in politics was made evident by the anxiety of some of the party leaders either to manœuvre Pinckney into the presidency in place of Adams, or to bring Washington back to the political arena and thus compel Adams to retire. "Believing the dearest interests of our country at stake," and "considering Mr. Adams unfit for the office he now holds," Gouverneur Morris had written to Washington, Dec. 9, 1799, begging him to accept a third term; but Washington was dead before the letter reached him, and the only hope of union in the federal party died with him. His death at this time was peculiarly unfortunate for the federalists, for in this congress a strong federalist representation from the south appeared for the first and last time, John Marshall being its most prominent member. They were rather of the Adams than of the Hamilton school, and if the crash could have been postponed for a new years might possibly have become the southern wing of a real national party, very much like the whigs of after years. But their appearance was too late, and after 1801 they soon fell into the all embracing republican party—This congress represented mainly the war feeling of 1798, and felt little sympathy with the popular discontent at the continued enforcement of the sedition law. The prosecutions under this act were few, but, by a perverse ingenuity, they were chiefly brought in those doubtful middle states which only Washington's influence had ever made secure to federalism. It seems difficult to see anything better than farce in proceedings against a "criminal" in New York, charged with the circulation of petitions against the sedition law, and against another in New Jersey, charged with the expression of a wish that the wadding of a cannon just firing might strike the president behind. But when it is remembered that only the whim of two southern electors in 1796 had saved the federal party from defeat in that year, and that the loss of either New York's or New Jersey's vote would ensure its defeat in 1800, the blindness of the prosecutors seems almost willful.


—All this time Burr, who was superior to Jefferson as an organizer, in the modern American sense of that political term (see BURR, AARON), had been actively at work in the "pivotal" state of New York, and the result of his labors was seen in the spring elections, beginning April 28, 1800, for members of the legislature which was to choose electors in the following autumn. A republican majority was elected, and the hardly smothered ill feeling in the federal party at once broke out. Pickering and McHenry, who, while nominally the president's advisers, had kept up a close and confidential correspondence with Hamilton, were contumeliously dismissed from the cabinet, and Adams threw himself openly upon the anti-Hamilton element, taking Marshall into the cabinet. Hamilton endeavored to defeat this movement by printing, for circulation among southern federalists, a very savage pamphlet attack upon the president, which would certainly have come within the terms of the sedition law, if that act had ever been anything better than a party measure. Hamilton's rhetoric was needless, and the president himself was too late. The spark of nationalization, which had only begun to burn in the south after ten years of federalist government, was not destined to come to a name. The presidential election left the federal party a wreck. The middle states, except New Jersey and part of Pennsylvania's votes, joined the solid column of states south of the Potomac and Ohio, and gave the republican candidates a majority.


—It can not be said that the party, at least its larger commercial element, surrendered the federal government with dignity. The whole session of congress following the election was spent in efforts to save by intrigue something of what had been lost at the polls. The scheme to make Burr president, in order to establish a claim upon the person who was to dispense the offices, is elsewhere given. (See DISPUTED ELECTIONS, I.) At a time when the supreme court had not sufficient business to fully employ it, twenty-three new judgeships were erected, each with its attendant, suite of clerks, marshals and deputies, and filled by the appointment of federalists. (See JUDICIARY.) And, as if to make the object of the law more apparent, the party endeavored, almost successfully, to renew the sedition law, which was to expire by limitation at the end of this session. With all these schemes the non-commercial element of the party, the class represented by Marshall, Bayard and Adams, had very little sympathy or connection, and Adams, while yielding to party demands so far as to appoint federalists to office, seems to have done so with some contempt. After signing judicial appointments until after midnight of his last day of office, whence the angry epithet of "midnight judges," given to his appointees, the president left Washington early in the morning of March 4, 1801, and the control over the national government which it had founded passed from the federal party forever. It still retained control of the judiciary, but the next congress, which was republican, repealed the new judiciary law, in spite of the excited expostulations of the federalists, and in face of the fact that the constitution expressly gave all judges, when once appointed, a life tenure during good behavior.


—During this period the three leading minds of the party, after Madison's defection, were Hamilton, John Adams, and John Jay of New York. Hamilton's natural place was in the small nationalizing element, but he had the entire confidence of the commercial class also, and was apt to incline toward it because of his reliance upon it. Jay and Adams were entirely nationalist, and after 1801 ceased to act as party leaders. Other leaders of a lower rank were Samuel Livermore, and William Plumer, of New Hampshire; Fisher Ames, Theodore Sedgwick, and Caleb Strong, of Massachusetts, (see also ESSEX JUNTO); Roger Sherman, Oliver Wolcott, Oliver Ellsworth, Uriah Tracy, and Jonathan Trumbull, of Connecticut; Rufus King and Gouverneur Morris, of New York; Thomas Fitz Simons, James Ross, and William Bradford. of Pennsylvania; Jonathan Dayton, and Elias Boudinot, of New Jersey; James A. Bayard, of Delaware; John Marshall, and Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia; Robert G. Harper (afterward of Maryland). Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, and William Smith, of South Carolina.


—II. 1801-20. During Jefferson's first term of office the crusade against the federal party was carried on with vigor, ability and success. No general eviction of office holders was resorted to; indeed, such a step would have almost brought the operations of government to a stand, for the administrative skill and experience were mainly federalist. Appointments were made, however, as often as vacancies occurred, with scrupulous attention to republican party interests. Every effort was made to disparage the federalists in the eyes of the people. For this purpose the old charge of monarchical tendencies was still brought against them, but it now showed more exactly the animus which really controlled it—the idea that federalists generally had no sympathy with or respect for their constituents; that they claimed elective office on the score of their own innate ability, virtue, or assumed superior qualifications, rather than as representatives of those characteristics in their constituents; and that, in short, they "did not trust the people." Against this insidious method of attack the older federalists, whose early training had been colored by the staid and dignified official life of colonial times, were unprepared to make an adequate defense by formulating a party creed for popular examination, and the case against them really went by default. Athens does not stand alone in her employment of ostracism; that penalty may be applied almost as rigorously with the ballot as with the oyster shell, and it was so thoroughly used at this time that only New England tenacity and commercial interest combined could have hindered its entire success. The older federalist politicians were slowly driven out of politics, and younger men were sternly taught that any adoption of federalist ideas would be an absolute bar or a great hindrance to their advancement.


—The political action of the party was no wiser than its neglect to put its theory before the people. The opposition of the federalists to the repeal of the judiciary law, above referred to, was generally creditable, but it is almost the last point in their party history to which praise can be awarded. They might have fairly claimed as their own almost every measure introduced by the new administration; they preferred to follow a general course of factions opposition to every proposal to increase the strength of the federal government, thus alienating the little remnant of their nationalizing element, and intensifying the commercial character of the remainder of the party. In 1803 their opposition to the acquisition of Louisiana (see ANNEXATIONS, I.) was not concurred in by several of their own party, such as John Quincy Adams in the senate, and Purviance, of North Carolina, in the house, who were elected as federalists, but who, perhaps for that reason, preferred to increase federal power even for the benefit of their opponents. But the leaders generally confined the federalist side of the debates to a recapitulation of former republican arguments, a course certain to estrange the most valuable elements of their own party, and to convince the popular mind that their present professions were no more based upon political principle than their professions in 1793, by their own present admission, had been. Before the end of Jefferson's first term the fortunes of the federal party had ebbed to the point at which they really always afterward remained, though the accession of temporary elements of opposition to the dominant party occasionally gave them a factitious increase of strength. In the presidential election of 1804, federalist electors were chosen only by Connecticut and Delaware, with two from Maryland.


—In February, 1806, the party received an unexpected reinforcement in the person of John Randolph, hitherto the republican leader in the house. He now joined the federalists in opposing the "restrictive system" (see EMBARGO), which weighed heavily upon commerce, but his quarrel was rather with the president than with his former party, and he brought with him but a few personal adherents and no real party strength. From this time the general history of the party is made up of opposition to the embargo and kindred measures, and of efforts, which were now made earnestly, but unfortunately too late, to obtain a strong navy. The opposition to the embargo became so violent as to threaten a disruption of the Union (see SECESSION, I.), but it never was a party opposition; it was a revolt of those engaged in commerce, of their friends, and of their dependents, against the attempts to shackle commerce and make the United States an agricultural country. In the presidential election of 1808 New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, with three electors from North Carolina, were added to the federalist list of 1804. (See ELECTORAL VOTES, VI.)


—During Madison's first term (1809-13) the opposition to the restrictive system continued, and culminated in opposition to the war which followed the abandonment of the restrictive system. By this time the federal party had lost even the pretense of party principle. It had taken refuge in the last resort of a minority, state rights, (see STATE SOVEREIGNTY), and all its arguments were amplifications and exaggerations of the strict construction theory of the republicans. Since its principles were now taken at second-hand, it seemed well that its candidates should be selected in the same way, and accordingly, in 1812, the federalists endeavored to take advantage of New York jealousy of Virginia by supporting De Witt Clinton, of New York, for president, and Jared Ingersoll, a Pennsylvania federalist, for vice-president. The basis of the alliance was opposition to the war with England, though Clinton cautiously abstained from committing himself personally, and after the election took an opportunity to approve the war; but in the presidential election of 1812 the alliance only failed of success because of the growth of the agricultural or backwoods population of the middle states, and particularly of Pennsylvania. To the hitherto federalist list were now added the votes of New York and New Jersey, and three additional votes from Delaware and Maryland; and, though Madison was elected by 128 votes to 89, the 25 votes of Pennsylvania, if that state had followed the lead of New York, would have made Clinton president by a vote of 114 to 103. Even in that event, it is difficult to see of what advantage the result would have been to the federal party. (For the party's further opposition to the war, see CONVENTION, HARTFORD.)


—The most prominent of the federalist leaders during this period were C. C. Pinckney and Rufus King, the party's usual candidates for president and vice-president. Of those who were prominent in the first decade, Ames, Hamilton, Bradford and Tracy were, in 1815, dead; Plumer, John Adams, John Quincy Adams and Bayard were either nominally or really in affiliation with the democratic (republican) party; Marshall had retired to the supreme court; and the others began to confine their ambition to the service of their respective states. In the presidential election of 1816 Massachusetts, Connecticut and Delaware were the only states which cast federalist electoral votes; three federalist electors, chosen by the "district system" in Maryland, did not take the trouble to vote. In congress the few federalists did not attempt even to cast a united vote any longer, and in national politics we may consider the party as dead after 1817. In 1820 it cast no electoral votes. In state politics it survived, though in a hopeless minority, in Maryland and North Carolina; in Delaware and Connecticut it usually controlled state elections until after 1820; in Massachusetts it controlled state elections until its great defeat of 1823, when the state, and even the county of Essex (see ESSEX JUNTO), were carried by the republicans.


—The federalist opposition to the war, which is commonly assigned as the reason for the party's final collapse after 1816, was undoubtedly of great weight; but a deeper influence had long been operating to give the coup de grace to the dying party, even in the state elections which were now its only dependence. Until 1808 manufactures were hardly of any importance in American politics, but the "restrictive system," by keeping British manufactures out of the country, at once began the development of a great manufacturing interest in the United States. For seven years this interest was fostered by the embargo, by the non-intercourse law, and at length by open war, until in 1815 it represented a very considerable invested capital and a large influence in the very citadel of federalism, New England. For a continuance of the restrictive system in the form of high tariffs this interest was dependent upon the favor of the republican party, and it was therefore directly antagonistic to the federal party. It is safe to say that the federal party was finally destroyed by an alliance of agriculture and manufactures. This alliance, indeed, was not permanent. Agriculture was faithless to its new ally, and the manufacturing interest, after thirteen years of unavailing effort to obtain a protective tariff, went over to its old antagonist, and, in conjunction with commerce, and on a wiser political basis, founded a new party. (See WHIG PARTY.) As a federalist, Daniel Webster opposed a protective tariff in 1814 and 1824, and hoped that we would never have a Sheffield or a Birmingham in this country; as a whig, he was as earnest in the opposite direction. But, during these thirteen years, federalism tended more and more to become a social rather than a political cult in New England, Delaware, Maryland and North Carolina, until it finally disappeared with the old age of its more persistent devotees.


—As the small nationalizing element, which, alone had ever given the federalists a claim to the title of a political party, remained in, but not of, the democratic-republican party until about 1828-30, and then fell back again into the national republican (afterward called whig) party, it may be said that the principles of the federal party thus survived it. But the irremediable fault of the original federalist leaders, a fault avoided by their whig and republican successors, was, that they never formulated their cardinal party principles into a creed comprehensible by the mass of voters. He who searches the writings of federalists for such a formulation will search in vain; the party, which was made up of the finest elements of American society, lived upon an instinct, a kind of spiritual recognition, rather than upon defined political principles. Nor can the neglect be properly ascribed to immaturity of political thought; Hamilton was as capable of such a work as Jefferson (see DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICAN PARTY, II.), if he had cared enough for popular conviction to strive for it. After 1801 the ill effects of this neglect were increasingly apparent, but they only drew from federalist leaders angry railings at popular stupidity in not comprehending federalist principles, though these had never been comprehensibly placed before the people. In 1814 a clearer insight seems to have come to some federalists, though too late, and an extract from Barent Gardénier's "Examiner," of March 19, 1814, might serve as an epitaph for his party: "See and feel? Aye, multitudes of the people can do much more. And if we would only talk to them more, and scold at them less, than we do, the good effects would very soon be apparent." [The references to commerce and manufactures are historical only; for the comparative economic advisability of PROTECTION and FREE TRADE, see those articles.]—See DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICAN PARTY; EMBARGO; SECESSION; CONVENTION, HARTFORD; WHIG PARTY; UNITED STATES; and authorities there cited. See also 4, 5, 6 Hildreth's United States; 1 von Holst's United States; Pitkin's United States; Gibbs' Administrations of Washington and Adams; J. C. Hamilton's History of the American Republic; American State Papers; 1-4 Benton's Debates of Congress; Hamilton's Works; John Adams' Works; Marshall's Life of Washington; Washington's Writings; Jay's Life and Writings of John Jay; Sparks' Life and Letters of Gouverneur Morris; Fisher Ames' Works; Quincy's Life of J. Quincy; Adams' Documents relating to New England Federalism; Garland's Life of Randolph; Dwight's Hartford Convention; Story's Life and Letters of Joseph Story; 1 Webster's Works; Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster; Hammond's Political History of New York; Hosack's Memoir of De Witt Clinton; Campbell's Life and Writings of Clinton; Gardénier's Examiner; Carey's New Olive Branch; Van Buren's Political Parties; Seybert's Statistical Annals of the United States, 1789-1818; Sullivan's Letters; Pickering's Life and Correspondence of Pickering; 24 Niles' Register, 97.


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