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The purpose of the assignment is to understand the political partisanship of the 1790s. Therefore, you will analyze partisan politics to learn that today’s situation is no different from other parts of American history. There has always been a concern about the country’s future, which has led to multiple sides being vicious towards one another.

Background Information

In the “Age of Passion,” as historians have labeled the 1790s, the country faced two different paths (Hamilton and Jefferson) that would transform from factions to political parties. The Federalists and Republicans (not the modern-day Republicans) both saw themselves as the Revolutionary War’s legacy and fought over the federal government’s role. At times it was civilized, but some moments might resemble today’s politics. Federalists called Republicans anarchists that sought to destroy the U.S. Constitution, while Republicans labeled their opponents as monarchists that wanted to take away American freedom. When John Adams became president, he passed laws to limit the Republican press (Sedition Act). Washington’s address warned against this divisiveness because the country was too young.


Washington argues that the “spirit of party” is a part of “our nature.” In your essay, pick a quote from his speech to analyze and relate it to the partisanship of the 1790s (not today).

Your essay (remember, essay format) should include most (or all) of the following themes/concepts.

  • What was the difference between the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans?
    • What were their ideologies?
    • You may draw on some concepts of the Constitutional Convention, but be careful because both the political leaders (Hamilton and Madison) were supporters of the new Constitution and wrote the Federalist Papers to defend it.
    • Also, remember that the Federalists during the Constitutional Convention debate are not the same as the Federalist Party (confusing, I know)
  • How did both see themselves as the legacy of the Revolutionary War and fought over the federal government’s role?
    • Think about what they wanted for the future of the country.
  • Describe the events that led to the division.
    • Key historical events that drove the two factions into opposition parties.
    • What happened during the election of 1796 and 1800?
    • Who were the leaders of the parties?
  • For the document analysis
    • What were his warnings? How did they relate to the partisanship of the decade?
    • Describe what he thought was best for the country (more from the lesson, but it helps with the document’s context).
    • What role did he play with these two factions?


Primary Source (Must Use)

  • Washington’s Farewell Address (1796)

To help understand the differences. It will not replace the primary source requirement.

  • Federalists and Republicans
  • 2011 Atlantic Article
  • Links to an external site.
  • The Press Attacks George Washington
  • Links to an external site.


  • Knowledge of American politics in the 1790s.
  • Recognition of the different opinions about the country’s future.
  • Understand the key issues of the 1790s that divided the nation.


  • 400 words
  • Double spaced standard margins and 12 point font.
  • Find at least one quote to analyze.
    • Cite the page where you got the quote.


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