Chapter 5: The First American Party System
Today, political parties are an authoritative and essential component of the United States political system. However, it is important to examine how the political parties began and evolved over hundreds of years, since they were first established. In 1794, the major political parties were the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. The major difference between these two was that the Federalists favored a strong central government, while the Democratic-Republicans preferred a central government with limited power and more state control. At the time of the election, it seemed that the prominent, distinguished Federalist Party clearly had the upper hand, but in the end the Democratic-Republican candidate ended up winning. Despite the fact that political party system was nowhere as nearly sophisticated as it is today, there were many key factors that contributed to the Democratic-Republican congressional victory in 1794, including the demographics of the city, political party initiatives, and remarkably the yellow fever response.
Many political factions precipitated out of George Washington’s first presidential election and by 1794 these factions were on the brink of establishing themselves as distinct political parties. The two major players, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans, sanctioned various methods of cultivating support for their candidate and for their cause. The federal congressional election of 1794 ignited the highest level of political tension in Pennsylvania since the ratification of the United States Constitution, which caused its share of argument and turmoil in 1787. The two candidates, Thomas Fitzsimons and John Swanwick, came from divergen...
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... yellow fever epidemic and the Democratic-Republicans’ actions in favor of the people certainly served to aid in Swanwick’s victory in 1794.
The Congressional Election of 1794 was a very important and influential one in the evolution of the American political party system. Although Federalists dominated the early political world of the newly constructed union, the Democratic-Republican candidate, Swanwick, was victorious. There were many factors that contributed to Swanwick’s victory that can’t be ignored when analyzing how the Democratic-Republicans procured the victory in the election of 1794. All the evidence available needs to be investigated in order to understand the influences of the candidate, their position on the various controversial issues of the time period, and the voters themselves on the outcome of the election of 1794.
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