The First Two Party System
Tom Richey explains the dynamics of the first two party system that materialized in the United States in the 1790s, starting with the debates between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton in Washington’s cabinet and escalating into the partisan elections of 1796 and 1800. In 1796, John Adams defeated Thomas Jefferson in a close race. The Jeffersonian Republican opposition was so fierce that the Federalist Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, making it a criminal offense to criticize the government. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison responded with the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, which condemned the Alien and Sedition Acts as unconstitutional. In 1800, Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams in another close election that Jefferson dubbed the “Revolution of 1800.”
By: Tom Richey.