AP US - Pd. 5
30 March, 2011
The Constitution and the New Republic
Brinkley Chapter 6
The period between 1785 and 1800 was one of the most politically productive in American
history. During these fifteen years, the nation, guided by some of the most talented men in its
history, reorganized itself under a new framework of government and then struggled to
for itself as well as for others
just what had been created. It was a period marked by
the rise of a party that called itself Federalist, although the philosophy it espoused was, as its
opponents were quick to point out, more "nationalist" in emphasis. Arguing that in order to
prosper, the United States had best follow the economic and political example of Great Britain,
these Federalists, led by Hamilton, injected foreign policy into domestic differences and set the
stage for one of the earliest and most serious assaults by the government on individual civil
liberties. Seeing their less elitist, pro-agriculture, Republican opponents as supporters of France
in an undeclared war between that nation and the United States, the Federalists set out to
suppress dissent and those who promoted it. This assault brought a swift response and so
heightened tensions that many feared that the nation could not survive. It was against this
background that a shift of power occurred, and by the end of the decade, the Federalists, who
had been the moving force for so many years, were clearly losing ground to the Republicans.
This meant that if wounds were to be healed and divisions mended, it would have to be done by
the man many believed to be the personification of all that separated the two groups
Points for Discussion:
What were the various motivations which led Americans to write a new Constitution
in 1787? How were political debates and philosophical questions concerning the
extent, division, and control of governmental powers resolved?
Discuss the debate among historians concerning the background of the Constitution
and the possible motives of the Founding Fathers.
What were Hamilton’s motives for proposing his plans for taxation, assumption, and
currency regulation? What was it in his motives that so upset Jefferson and
Compare and contrast the political, economic, and social philosophies of Thomas
Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Explain the sort of nation each wished to create.
Speculate on how Jefferson and Hamilton might react to current conditions in
American domestic and foreign affairs.
The Bill of Rights is generally recognized as protecting the citizens of the United
States from their government, but what safeguards were contained in the
Constitution to protect states from violations of their "rights"? What additional
safeguards were proposed by Jefferson and Madison in the Virginia and Kentucky
Resolutions, and what were the implications of these resolutions with regard to the
growth of the central government?