The New Nation and Political Parties

The most popular topic my History students want to know about every year is the American political party system. My students are fascinated with it and want to know how it got its start and if our modern-day parties are the same as the ones in History.

Starting this week students will be studying George Washington's administration and how the differences between two of his Cabinet members, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson, led to the creation of the two party system of the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. They will also be deciding which party they would have chosen to belong to and giving reasons why.

(As for answering the question about today's parties being the same as the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans? The answer is yes and no--there have been many twists and turns throughout American political history and neither the ideas of the Republican nor Democratic parties today perfectly match the ideas of the Federalist or Democratic-Republican parties of the late 1700 and early 1800s, but there are some exceptions. It will be up to my students to determine what they find similar and different.)

Treasury Secretary Hamilton and Secretary of State Jefferson


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