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Launching the New
Ship of State
Chapter 10
A.P. US History
The Search for Stability
A. Washington as First President
• In February 1789, George Washington was elected
president by unanimous vote of the electoral college – a
man considered the embodiment of republican ideals
• As president, he carefully calculated his decisions – aware
that his administration set precedents that could ensure or
jeopardize success of the new federal government
• Washington’s genius for leadership lay in (1) an ability to
implant his own reputation for integrity into the office of
president, and (2) chose talented and experienced men to
preside over newly created executive departments –
regardless of their philosophical differences
The Search for Stability
A. Washington as First President (cont.)
• No one foresaw that 20
years of political
turbulence would emerge
from the brilliant, but
explosive mix of
personalities in
Washington’s first cabinet
The Search for Stability
A. Washington as First President (cont.)
• Thomas Jefferson was
appointed ‘Secretary of
• Alexander Hamilton as
‘Secretary of the Treasury’
• Henry Knox as ‘Secretary
of War’
• Edmund Randolph
became ‘Attorney General’
• John Jay was appointed
‘Chief Justice’ of the
Supreme Court
The Search For Stability
C. Hamilton’s Economic Policies
• In 1790, the federal debt
amounted to $42,414,000;
State debts tallied another
$21,500,00 dollars; and
Foreign debt amounted to
• These figures represented
principle + interest owed
by the ‘Second
Continental’ Congress and
the States to citizens and
foreign countries for
Revolutionary War loans
Hamilton’s Financial Structure Supported by
The Search For Stability
C. Hamilton’s Economic Policies (cont.)
• In January 1790, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton
issued his ‘Report on Public Credit’ – the first of three
reports recommending courses of action to improve the
country’s finances
• Known as ‘Funding and Assumption at Par,’ this plan
recommended, (1) that old ‘Certificates of Debt’ be rolled
over into new government bonds – with principle and
interest to be repaid at ‘par value’ [full face value] over 20
years, (2) the federal government ‘assume’ responsibility
repayment of all state debts, and (3) an excise tax of 25%
on whiskey – to raise additional revenue to help repay the
combined federal and state debts
The Search For Stability
D. The ‘Whiskey Rebellion of 1794’
• Hamilton’s excise tax on whiskey proved extremely
unpopular with cash-starved western grain farmers and
whiskey drinkers
• In 1792, Congress lowered the tax on whiskey – but
opposition to it remained high in the western regions of
Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, and
• The whiskey tax proved hard to enforce and collect – a
consequence of, (1) simple evasion, (2) harassment of
federal tax collectors, (3) underreporting of production by
distillers, and (4) petitions to Congress complaining about
the law
Federalists & Republicans
A. Emergence of Political Parties (cont.)
• Jefferson and Madison, the leading ‘Republicans’, believed
(1) the country’s future lay in agriculture, the most noble of
occupations , and (2) that commercial interests were
potentially dangerous to ‘Republican’ ideals
• ‘Federalists’ and ‘Republicans’ were political ‘factions’, not
fully developed and organized political ‘parties’ – the latter a
term that newspapers and politicians used freely
• The ‘Constitution’ did not provide for political parties and
leading citizens like Washington and Madison believed
political parties tended to undermine ‘Republican’ ideals
Foreign Conflicts & American Politics
A. France & England
• Since 1789, the ‘French Revolution’ had captured the
attention of Americans sympathetic with the overthrow of
monarchy and privilege – until the ‘Reign of Terror’ with its
mass executions began to undermine support
• In 1793, the ‘Napoleonic Wars’ between England and
France began – with England fighting to save Europe from
Napoleon and protect her own monarchy
• In May 1793, President Washington issued his ‘Neutrality
Proclamation’ proclaiming American neutrality in the
conflict and warning Americans to remain impartial
Foreign Conflicts & American Politics
A. France & England (cont.)
• Jay’s instructions were to
(1) get compensation for
seized cargoes, (2) stop
impressment of U.S.
sailors, (3) negotiate trade
treaties with the British
West Indies, (4) negotiate
removal of British soldiers
from U.S. soil, and (5) seek
compensation for southern
planters who lost slaves
lured away by the British
during the Revolutionary
American Posts Held by
Britain After 1783
Foreign Conflicts & American Politics
A. France & England (cont.)
• Unbeknownst to Jay,
Treasury Secretary
Hamilton had secretly
informed the British of
Jay’s instructions and his
bargaining position – he
feared Jay’s negotiations
might be too forceful,
anger the British, and thus
jeopardize his financial
plan for the United States
Foreign Conflicts & American Politics
A. France & England (cont.)
• The resulting ‘Jays Treaty’ contained few concessions to the
United States, angered many, and politically split the
• Among its provisions, ‘Jay’s Treaty’ called for (1) repayment
of money owed by American planters to British merchants
before the war, (2) British troops to vacate U.S. soil within
18 months, (3) giving the U.S. limited trading rights in the
British West Indies, and (4) future settlement of boundary
disputes with Canada, as well as damage and loss claims by
ship-owners for seized cargoes, ships, and crews
Federalists & Republicans
A. Hamilton & the Election of 1796
• In September 1796,
President Washington
issued his ‘Farewell
Address’ which (1) set a
‘precedent’ in his decision
not to seek a third term,
(2) called for “unity of
government” in the body
politic, and (3) warned the
country to steer clear of
permanent, entangling
alliances with foreign
George Washington ‘Stands
Outside of Time’
Federalists & Republicans
A. Hamilton & the Election of 1796 (cont.)
• Following Washington’s announcement, ‘Federalists’ chose
John Adams of Massachusetts and Thomas Pinckney of S.
Carolina as their nominees for the 1796 election - the
‘Republicans’ chose Thomas Jefferson of Virginia and
Aaron Burr of New York
• The election of 1796 focused heavily on personalities and
emotions ran very high – to the point that ‘Federalists’ and
‘Republicans began to drink their ale in separate taverns
• Moreover, Hamilton, who had resigned from the Treasury
in 1795, hated John Adams and secretly plotted to deprive
him of the presidency – even though Hamilton and Adams
were both ‘Federalists’
Federalists & Republicans
A. Hamilton & the Election of 1796 (cont.)
• Adams’s inaugural address
called for neutrality and
respect for the French – an
attempt to bridge the rift
between Federalists and
• Adam’s kept 3 men from
Washington’s cabinet,
Treasury Sec. Oliver
Wolcott, Sec. of State
Timothy Pickering, and
Sec. of War James
McHenry - all Federalists
loyal to Hamilton
Federalists & Republicans
B. France & the XYZ Affair (cont.)
• In the fall of 1797,
President Adams ordered
three diplomats to Paris to
meet with French Foreign
Minister Talleyrand
• Upon arriving in Paris, the
three American diplomats
were secretly contacted by
three French agents – later
identified in the American
press as X, Y, and Z
Federalists & Republicans
B. France & the XYZ Affair (cont.)
• The French agents [X, Y, and Z] demanded a $250,000
bribe, plus a $12 million dollar [32 million florins] loan to
the French government merely to arrange a meeting with
• Incensed, the three American diplomats returned home and
informed President Adams of their failed mission – known
as the ‘XYZ Affair’, it aroused extreme anti-French anger in
• By 1798, the ‘Quasi-War’ had begun – an undeclared war by
the United States against France that strained political
relations between ‘Federalists’ and ‘Republicans’ at home
Federalists & Republicans
C. The Alien & Sedition Acts (cont.)
• The Congress also passed two ‘Alien Acts’ that empowered
the President to deport dangerous foreigners in time of
peace or to deport or imprison them in time of war [aimed
at resident aliens critical of ‘Federalist’ policies]
• Jeffersonian ‘Republicans’ were highly critical of the ‘Alien
Acts’ and the ‘Sedition Act’ – calling them unconstitutional
and in conflict with the ‘Bill of Rights’
• ‘Republicans’ in Congress did not have the numbers to
override the legislation, nor could the federal judiciary,
dominated by Federalists, be counted on to mount a legal
Federalists & Republicans
C. The Alien & Sedition Acts (cont.)
• Despite passage of the ‘Alien and Sedition Acts’, President
Adams exercised restraint in using them against opponents,
and he refused to declare war against France – shrewdly
realizing that France did not desire war and might be open
to negotiation with the U.S.
• In January 1799, President Adams received a French peace
initiative inviting him to send new peace negotiators to
Paris – an offer the president accepted by appointing a new
• Adams’ acceptance of the French offer to negotiate cost
him political support within his own party - virtually
assuring that he would be a one-term president
Federalists & Republicans
C. The Alien & Sedition Acts (cont.)
• The ‘Election of 1800’ began as both ‘Federalists’ and
‘Republicans’ openly campaigned along party lines – the
self-designated national leaders of both ‘factions’ met to
handpick their presidential and vice-presidential candidates