Donna Kwon January 30, 2009
Mrs. Hannah Social Studies
DBQ #5: Growth of Political Parties
The Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the Moderate Party, the Green Party, etc. All
are names for political parties within the United States. But where did all of these names begin?
When was the first political party created? It all dates back to the 1790’s, during which Thomas
Jefferson and John Adams contended with each other for the responsibility of the second president
our country. Jefferson and Adams had very different views on which direction America should grow.
Some people began to support Jefferson, while others supported Adams, forming two parties that
were known as the Federalists and Anti-federalists. As stated in Document 5, a letter from Vice
President Thomas Jefferson to John Wise in 1798, “Two political Sects have arisen within the United
States.” The growth of political parties in America was influenced by differences in opinions, as
proved by the following points.
After General George Washington’s 8 years of presidency, he firmly stepped down from his
position of power, ready to pass the responsibility of being the executive of the US. The nation
needed a new president. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were to be the two running mates for
the election. However, both had severely dissimilar notions, and their arguments soon turned into a
nation-wide altercation, with people taking one side or the other. The two opposing sides were
called the Federalists and the Anti-federalists. Differences between the two parties pushed Adams
and Jefferson apart from each other, just as George Washington had warned it would in “The
Farewell Address”, which you can find in Document 4. Though he tried to advise America against
the “baneful effects of the spirit of party”, political parties continued to grow until it was no longer
a mere quarrel between two old, crotchety men.
John Adams, a federalist, believed that America should have a strong central government,
one that would support the people by making laws to ensure the people’s safety. He proposed that
the government tax the people so that the government would have enough funds to manage the
country. Thomas Jefferson, an anti-federalist, reasoned that taxes would upset the people and
cause them to rebel. He believed that America should have a weak government, one that would
leave the people alone to do what they wished. That way, no taxes would be necessary because the
people would take care of themselves without the government’s assistance. Document 3 shows
what Thomas Jefferson thought of taxes. He assumed that the people’s hatred of taxes would lead
to hatred of the government, which in turn would lead to rebellion. He described the tax as an
“infernal” one and claimed that there was universal dislike of it. Clearly the anti-federalists believed
that there would soon be a civil war.
The federalists and anti-federalists also disagreed on which side to support during the
French Revolution. To some, the anti-federalists, it was clear that the British were the enemy, as