Jefferson and Madison succeeded in one major political aim—the elimination of the Federalist Party. At first, the war led to a revival of Federalist fortunes. With antiwar sentiment at its peak in 1812, Madison had been reelected by the relatively narrow margin of 128 electoral votes to 89 over his Federalist opponent, DeWitt Clinton of New York. But then came a self-inflicted blow. In December 1814, a group of New England Federalists gathered at Hartford, Connecticut, to give voice to their party’s long-standing grievances, especially the domination of the federal government by Virginia presidents and their own region’s declining influence as new western states entered the Union. They called for amending the Constitution to eliminate the three-fifths clause that strengthened southern political power, and to require a two-thirds vote of Congress for the admission of new states, declarations of war, and laws restricting trade. Contrary to later myth, the Hartford Convention did not call for secession or disunion. But it affirmed the right of a state to “interpose” its authority if the federal government violated the Constitution.

The Hartford Convention had barely adjourned before Jackson electrified the nation with his victory at New Orleans. “Rising Glory of the American Republic,” one newspaper exulted. In speeches and sermons, political and religious leaders alike proclaimed that Jackson’s triumph revealed, once again, that a divine hand oversaw America’s destiny. The Federalists could not free themselves from the charge of lacking patriotism. Within a few years, their party no longer existed. Its stance on the war was only one cause of the party’s demise. The urban commercial and financial interests it championed represented a small minority in an expanding agricultural nation. Their elitism and distrust of popular self-government placed Federalists more and more at odds with the new nation’s democratic ethos. Yet in their dying moments Federalists had raised an issue—southern domination of the national government—that would long outlive their political party. And the country stood on the verge of a profound economic and social transformation that strengthened the very forces of commercial development that Federalists had welcomed and many Republicans feared.


1. Identify the major parts of Hamilton’s financial plan, who supported these proposals, and why they created such passionate opposition.

2. How did the French Revolution and ensuing global struggle between Great Britain and France shape early American politics?

3. How did each of the following demonstrate a growing U.S. involvement in the world: Washington’s Farewell Address, Jefferson’s response to the Haitian Revolution, and the Barbary Wars.

4. How did the expansion of the public sphere offer new opportunities to women?

5. How did the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of 1798 threaten government stability and the future of the republic?

6. Thomas Jefferson spoke of creating an “Empire of Liberty.” What actions did he take to achieve such a goal, and was universal expansion of freedom the result?

7. Why did contemporaries refer to the War of 1812 as the Second War of Independence, and was this name accurate?

8. Whose status was changed the most by the War of 1812—Great Britain, the United States, or Native Americans?


1. Why did Jefferson believe Hamilton’s financial plan would destroy both freedom and the republic?

2. Identify the key components of liberty endorsed by the Democratic-Republican societies. Why did Federalists view such societies and ideas as evidence that liberty was getting “out of hand”?

3. Why were the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 viewed as assaults on freedom by Jefferson’s supporters, but justified as a defense of a stable republic by the Federalists?

4. The divide between the ideals of American liberty and the institution of slavery grew during the first quarter century of the American republic. Explain how and why, using examples.

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