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The 1790s
Washington, Adams, Hamilton, Jefferson
The Political Crisis of the 1790s
Washington’s Presidential Precedents
Hamilton’s Financial Program
Foreign Policy Issues - Crises
The Rise of Political Parties
Constitutional Crises, 1798–1800
Washington’s Presidency (1789-1797):
Defining the Executive Office
• Unanimous Electoral College
• Inaugurated March, 1789 in
New York
• Organized new departments
(His “cabinet”:
Thomas Jefferson - State
Alexander Hamilton - Treasury
Henry Knox - War
Edmund Randolph - Attorney
• Judiciary Act of 1789 established the Supreme
Court, 13 district courts and 3
Appellate courts
Implementing the Constitution
QuickTime™ and a
Sorenson Video 3 decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
Alexander Hamilton
• Born on Caribbean island of
Nevis, adopted state - New
• Revolutionary War - Gen.
Washington’s aide-de-camp
• Brilliant and (perhaps) a little
• First Secretary of the Treasury
• Ardent Nationalist
Alexander Hamilton’s Financial Plan
• Three parts:
– 1790 Report on Public Credit - Pay
off debt
– 1791 Report on Manufactures Protect industry and impose high
– 1790 Report on a National Bank
• Congress adopted all three with
some modifications
– Debt - Fed gov’t assumed state debts.
– Tariffs - Too low so AH pressed for
internal excise tax on whiskey
– Bank - privately owned, US gov’t
major shareholder, common US
currency could be printed
Alexander Hamilton…
• Hamilton’s interpretation of the
Constitution regarding the bank
was “broad” (meanings could
be interpreted more freely)
• His financial expertise and
vision were highly successful
but also very divisive politically
• Attempted to connect wealthy
citizens to government
Hamilton’s Financial Structure:
Supported by Revenues (Incomes)
Figure 7.2 Hamilton’s Fiscal Structure, 1792 (p. 211)
Hamilton’s Financial Plan
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Sorenson Video 3 decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
The Whiskey Rebellion - July 1794
• Hamilton’s plan
included an excise tax
on domestic whiskey
• Western Pennsylvania
farmers - excise tax too
• Washington raised
militia of 13,000 to put
down the rebellion.
• Rebels dispersed when
Washington reached the
• Washington asserted
national authority over
regional issues
American Posts Held by the British After 1783
Spanish & British Influence After 1783
Jay’s Treaty - 1794 (w/ Britain)
• US protested British
practice of impressment
(capturing and forcing
sailors into the BR
• Actual treaty did
nothing about this
• BR agreed to evacuate
western forts
• Very unpopular - but
maintained American
Pinckney’s Treaty - 1795 (w/ Spain)
• Treaty with Spain
• Opened port of New
Orleans to American
shipping - duty free
• Spain accepted US
claim to Florida’s N
boundary (present day
Mississippi, Alabama
and parts of several
other states)
Native Americans in the Ohio Valley
• British instigating and
providing weapons to
• 1794 - General “Mad”
Anthony Wayne: Battle of
Fallen Timbers
– Shawnee, Wyandot tribes
– Chief Little Turtle defeated
• 1795 - Treaty of
– Natives surrendered claims
to the Ohio Valley
– Opened Old Northwest to
US Expansion:
New States admitted in the 1790s
• Vermont 1791
• Kentucky 1792
• Tennessee 1796
French Revolution - Citizen Genet
• 1789-1794
• G.Washington issues
Proclamation of
Neutrality (1793)
– To keep the young country
out of war
• Federalists oppose US
support of FR Revolution
• Jeffersonian Republicans
support FR Revolution
• Citizen Genet controversy
- French Minister to US
appealed to US people
directly to support FR Rev
Regarding the French Revolution…
QuickTime™ and a
Sorenson Video 3 decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
Election of 1796
• John Adams
‘party’) president (most
electoral votes)
• Thomas
‘party’) - vicepresident
(second most
electoral votes)
John Adams - 2nd President
Revolutionary generation
Founding Father
Federalist - favored a
strong central government
and promotion of national
The XYZ Affair - 1798
• US = Pro-British policy
• French seized American merchant vessels
• Talleyrand (FR ambassador) solicited a loan and
bribe in order for FR to stop
• FR agents “X, Y, and Z” under authority from
• 1798 Congress cut off trade w/ France
• Beginning of an ‘undeclared naval war’ with
France (aka the Quasi-War)
The XYZ Affair
•“Millions for defense, not one cent for Tribute!”
Quasi-War with France (1798-1800)
• Undeclared naval war for control of the Caribbean
• US forces seized 93 French ‘privateers’ [pirates] in the
Caribbean --- US lost just one ship.
• French - nuisance at sea but no longer a serious threat by 1799.
Alien and Sedition Acts
• Federalist proposals to protect national security in
war with France
• Adams deferred to Federalist leaders who wanted
these laws.
• 4 laws total - Sedition Act most controversial
• Republicans claimed these were to silence the
opposition in the press
Summary of Alien and Sedition Acts
Alien Enemies Act
President may, in case of war, deport aliens
of an enemy country or impose severe
restraints on them.
Alien Friends Act
President may deport any alien he views as
“dangerous to the peace and safety of the
U.S.” No trial or evidence required. No
Naturalization Act
To be eligible for citizenship, an alien must
prove 14 years of residence within the
United States (previously 5 years).
Summary of Alien and Sedition Acts
Sedition Act
Illegal to conspire to oppose any measure or to
impede the operation of any law of the United
2) Illegal for any person to write print or publish
“any false, scandalous and malicious writing .
. . . against the government of the United
States, or either house of the Congress . . . or
the President . . . with intent to defame or to
bring them into contempt or disrepute; or to
excite against them the hatred of the good
people of the United States.
Justification for Alien & Sedition Acts
“The United States . . . were threatened with
actual invasion . . . and had then, within the
bosom of the country, thousands of aliens,
who, we doubt not, were ready to cooperate in
any external attack.”
Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions: 1798-99
• Response to the Alien and
Sedition Acts
• Articulated the doctrine of
“State’s Rights”
• Madison (anonymously) wrote
the Virginia Resolution
• Jefferson (anonymously) wrote
the Kentucky Resolution
• Introduced the idea of
interposition and
“nullification” - states could
nullify federal laws deemed
• First muted thoughts of
secession by a state…
Federalists vs. Democratic-Republicans
Agrarian (farming)
National Bank?
Bank (helps
No Bank (too much federal power)
Broadly (is it expressly
Strictly (is it expressly permitted?)
Balance of
National Authority
States’ Rights
Foreign Policy?
Election of 1800 The Revolution of 1800
• Jefferson wins
– Vice President Aaron Burr
• “We are all Federalists, we are all
• Adams concedes - Peacefully
• Tense and highly charged election
• Revolutionary - peaceful transfer of power
from one party to another - without bloodshed
and war
• Led to 12th amendment
Election of 1800