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The Federalist Party was a conservative and nationalist American political party and the first political party in the United States. Under Alexander Hamilton, it dominated the national government from 1789 to 1801. Defeated by the Democratic-Republican Party in 1800, it became a minority party while keeping its stronghold in New England and made a brief resurgence by opposing the War of 1812. It then collapsed with its last presidential candidate in 1816. Remnants lasted for a few years afterwards. The party appealed to businesses and to conservatives who favored banks, national over state government, manufacturing, an army and navy, and in world affairs preferred Great Britain and strongly opposed the French Revolution. The party favored centralization, federalism, modernization, industrialization, and protectionism.
|Founded||1789; 234 years ago (1789)|
|Dissolved||1835; 188 years ago (1835)|
|Headquarters||Washington, D.C., U.S.|
|Newspaper||Gazette of the United States|
|Political position||Center-right to right-wing|
The Federalists called for a strong national government that promoted economic growth and fostered friendly relationships with Great Britain in opposition to Revolutionary France. The Federalist Party came into being between 1789 and 1790 as a national coalition of bankers and businessmen in support of Hamilton's fiscal policies. These supporters worked in every state to build an organized party committed to a fiscally sound and nationalistic government. The only Federalist President was John Adams. George Washington was broadly sympathetic to the Federalist program, but he remained officially non-partisan during his entire presidency. The Federalists controlled the national government until 1801, when it was overwhelmed by the Democratic-Republican opposition led by President Thomas Jefferson.
Federalist policies called for a national bank, tariffs and good relations with Great Britain as expressed in the Jay Treaty negotiated in 1794. Hamilton developed the concept of implied powers and successfully argued the adoption of that interpretation of the Constitution. Their political opponents, the Democratic-Republicans led by Jefferson, denounced most of the Federalist policies, especially the bank and implied powers; and vehemently attacked the Jay Treaty as a sell-out of republican values to the British monarchy. The Jay Treaty passed and the Federalists won most of the major legislative battles in the 1790s. They held a strong base in the nation's cities and in New England. They factionalized when President Adams secured peace with France, to the anger of Hamilton's larger faction. After the Jeffersonians, whose base was in the rural South and West, won the hard-fought presidential election of 1800, the Federalists never returned to power. They recovered some strength through their intense opposition to the War of 1812, but they practically vanished during the Era of Good Feelings that followed the end of the war in 1815.
The Federalists left a lasting legacy in the form of a strong federal government. After losing executive power, they decisively shaped Supreme Court policy for another three decades through Chief Justice John Marshall.