The early history of the United States shaped the features and determinants of American political thinking among the elites and the masses, and based on the positions taken by them, American political ideologies and dynasties were formed.
and review part One From this reading of the history of political dynasties in America is the story of immigration and the arrival of European settlers to the New World, and the beginning of the social, cultural and religious formation of the colonies, and the characteristics of that early formation across a group of major issues and concerns, including the dream of immigrants to reach the Promised Land and the land of milk and honey, and freedom from the tyranny of the Church and the kings of Europe. Religious freedom, the aspiration for glory, power and fame, the belief in the uniqueness of the American experience in the history of civilization, and finally the right to arms and individual sovereignty.
This topic discusses the era after the success of the American Revolution against the British, the emergence of the constitutional experiment and then the era of populism.
Constitutional and political thinking
After the success of the American Revolution, the states ratified the Confederation Constitution in 1781, and accordingly a central government was established for the American states to succeed the Continental Congress, whose tasks covered the period 1775-1781. The American states learned from their experience with British colonial rule to always doubt the powers of the central government.
Therefore, the states preferred to form a weak central government that would not compete with or exceed the powers of the stable state governments. Which led to the weakening of the powers of the central government stipulated in the Confederation Constitution. The state governments were given broad powers, independent of the central government.
However, when this formula of confederal rule proved weak and unsuitable for the country's new interests, efforts succeeded in abolishing the confederal constitution and establishing a new constitution, according to which a federal union would be formed through which the weaknesses that existed in the previous confederal system of government could be eliminated.
In 1787, the Constitutional Convention was held to draft a federal constitution with the goal of establishing an effective central government different from the central government in the previous Confederate Constitution. The most prominent advocate of a strong central government at the convention was Alexander Hamilton. James Madison, known as the “Father of the Constitution,” led the convention’s discussions and recorded the minutes of its meetings. He put forward the initiative of the most populous states to establish a single Congress that would reflect the representation of the population weights of the states.
Benjamin Franklin was called the “Sage of the Convention,” as he helped calm those present when the debate sometimes became heated. Because of his fear of formulating a strong central government, Patrick Henry did not attend the conference, while Thomas Jefferson, a supporter of states' rights, was also absent from the conference as he was Minister Plenipotentiary to the Confederate government in France.
The majority of the representatives who attended the conference were young intellectuals, but they were also large landlords, well-known conservative-minded lawyers, and advocates of federalism, representing the large landlord class with the highest interest in creating a strong central government. Thus, the conference was able to address the shortcomings of the confederal constitution, leading to the establishment of an effective central state and strong unity, and the new formula appeared to be a practical and effective government.
The conference resulted in a compromise settlement to combine the two systems of parliamentary population representation preferred for the major states: the House of Representatives, and a Senate to represent the states equally, regardless of their population weights. This was called the “Great Compromise.”
Despite the ratification of the Constitution in September 1787, the political arena produced two distinct elites:
- One of them: Federalists who support a strong central state; The most prominent of them: John Adams, the second president of the United States, and Finance Minister Alexander Hamilton. She expressed her orientation through a political party founded by the latter, which bore the same name, “The Federalist,” and lasted from 1792-1816.
- The other: opposition to federalism, and expressed its tendency towards preponderance of state powers in another party founded by the third president, Thomas Jefferson, and the fourth president, James Madison, in 1793. It was called the Democratic Republican Party, and the party controlled the reins of power between 1800 and 1824 until it split into competing groups, one of which was known as the Democratic Party ( Early), which is the predecessor that resulted from the current Democratic Party, of which Jefferson is considered the founding father. The first president, George Washington, maintained his independence throughout his presidency, despite being closer to the Federalists.
Despite the collapse of the Federalist Party following the American-British War in 1812, and the loss of the Federalists’ national credibility, because they were traditionally affiliated with British influence, the federal idea did not disappear in constitutional and political life. Rather, its history and effective influences continued at the hands of Judge John Marshall, who was a federalist in convictions and affiliations. The only federal president in American history, John Adams, appointed him president of the (federal) Supreme Court in 1801, and he continued to do so until 1835.
Since the beginning of the 19th century, this court has played a prominent role in creating the legal foundations that established the foundations of central rule, and Marshall had an important impact in supporting the theories of the Federalists.
He issued rulings on a large number of constitutional issues, and in his decisions he never deviated from the principle of “sovereignty of the federal government.” Rather, he believed that the Constitution gave the government other implicit powers, in addition to the explicit powers. Thus, Marshall left a significant impact on the role and conduct of the Supreme Court in the context of his effort to make the federal government strong and effective.
For its part, the Democratic-Republican Party sided with the peasants and prioritized them over the financial interests of money changers, industrialists, and merchants, but it included a wide range of views on issues of trade, public works, and manufacturing.
At least two wings are distinguished within it; The northern wing of the Democrats, which was led by Madison, was more open to these issues; Compared to the southern Republican wing led by Jefferson.
During the era of Democratic-Republican President James Monroe (1817-1825), the states supported the independence of the Latin American countries from Spain and Portugal, starting in 1822, and declared their complete opposition to any European interference in the affairs of the Americas, which was later known as the “Monroe Doctrine,” and this was an embodiment of One of the most important American aspirations is to monopolize power, influence, and trade in Central and South America, and to expel European countries from the Western Hemisphere of the world.
The Monroe administration continued its principle of pursuing Russian influence on the western shores of the American continent. In 1812, the Russians were able to reach a distance of miles from the shores of San Francisco, and the Russian Tsar declared Russia’s exclusive commercial rights to the Pacific coast up to the 51st parallel north, and that Russia’s territorial waters extended 100 miles into the Pacific waters.
The United States took the Monroe Doctrine as a basis to prevent European countries from interfering in the affairs of South America, and sometimes to justify its isolationist policy, while President Theodore Roosevelt made it a pretext for interfering in the affairs of South America in the early twentieth century, when he encouraged the secession of the Panama region from the Republic of Colombia, so that America would have sole control over the country. The Panama Canal project, after the Frenchman de Lesseps failed to complete it.
The rise of populism
The American elections in 1824 witnessed sharp regional polarization between the candidates of the Democratic-Republican Party, especially between the “New Democracy” candidate, Andrew Jackson, of southern (border) origins, and the industrial northeastern candidate, John Quincy Adams, who belonged to the federalist wing of the Democratic-Republican Party, and the son of the second president. Federalist Principle John Adams.
The latter's victory for the presidency in the runoff came despite Jackson receiving the highest votes in the first round, causing bitterness among the latter's followers. The division of the Democratic-Republican Party began, despite its complete exclusivity in the arena for decades, and the disappearance of its competitor, the Federalist Party. The political differences turned into bitter hostility between the presidency and the opposition, which controlled the Congress.
Jackson's supporters called themselves the “Democratic Party,” while Adams Jr.'s supporters adopted the title “National Republican Party,” later changing to the “Whigs.”
It is noteworthy that the names “Republican” until that time did not necessarily mean the current Republican Party, which traces its “dynastic” lineage specifically to President Abraham Lincoln.
American political life witnessed a transformation during the era of the democracy of President Jackson and his successor, Van Buren, from its early Jeffersonian style, that is, the democracy of educated and enlightened wise men, to the democracy of the common man in the street, such as the small farmer and the common worker, in a way that paved the way for later “populist” policies. The presence of the lower western regions also became more apparent. They developed at the expense of the eastern and northeastern coasts.
This required expanding the umbrella of political democracy starting in 1828. Due to the abolition of the ownership requirement and the religious requirement as conditions for the right to vote or employment.
Presidential electors were now chosen directly by the people and not by state legislatures, and new state constitutions increased the number of positions held by election rather than by appointment.
The presidential nomination process now takes place through general party conferences, and not through narrow meetings of the party group in Congress.
In short, people became more involved in governance, and political parties appeared in their modern form known today, whereby the party organizes the presidential election campaign among the people, conducts campaigns to win votes for its candidates, and rewards loyal people with government positions, which later became a followed rule.
The majority at the expense of the elite
But this came at the expense of the value of education and experiences; According to Jackson's democracy, any trustworthy and well-intentioned ordinary person became qualified to exercise power, and ideas such as “inoculating the government with new blood” emerged, and the “circulation” of power became prior to the “continuation” or “stability” of elites and policies, leading to the formation of political family aristocracies. .
Jackson believed that a president who was considered a servant of the nation should use his powers forcefully and decisively. Therefore, he repeatedly challenged Congress and the Supreme Court when he saw that they did not reflect the interests of the people, and he used his veto power more than any president.
Jackson was the first to appoint “administrative” ministers with unknown names and no legislative, political, or class significance. He was the first president to rely in power on a narrow circle of trusted advisors and experts, whom he called the “Kitchen Ministry.” He expelled a number of Adams’ followers and replaced them with his own men as a reward for their loyalty and efforts.
What is interesting is that Jackson did not present any announced program, but rather decided to solve problems whenever they arose. His reign witnessed a launch of conquest and expansion towards the West. This launch was also linked to the new (populist) democracy, as it was an opportunity for the lower classes to escape the restrictions and control of the conservative classes in the northeastern regions, and an opportunity to absorb the human surplus, achieve new wealth and potential, and develop the settlement and expansion project. .
The era was accompanied by the emergence of liberal social movements and ideas with European sources, concerned with improving the conditions of the lower classes, women, slaves, and the mentally ill, and combating the spread of alcohol.
Educational opportunities and political awareness increased as a result of the increase in public education and the advancement of the press, and factory workers’ organizations appeared in the northern regions to defend their interests.
This stage in American history represents the crucible in which many trends melted and in which – as well as – important ideas were born that played destined roles in shaping many political and ideological dynasties and crystallizing them in the extended American experience.