What Did the Federalists Believe In?

The federalists believed in a strong central government and its proactive involvement in commerce. In general, the federalists were elitists who opposed measures to democratize American politics. In the realm of international relations, federalists were admirers of Great Britain and detractors of the French.

History.com explains that most federalists favored an active national government and strong executive over states’ rights. Whereas the Jeffersonian Republicans were mostly agrarians, the federalists were often bankers, financiers, merchants and manufacturers. Federalist policy called for high tariffs and open trade with Great Britain. The party was most popular in New England, although it also had strong bases in Virginia and South Carolina. The greatest concession to burgeoning Northern commerce and manufacturing was the establishment of the Bank of the United States, an independent corporation that in practice acted as a state-sponsored monopoly of the banking sector.

In contrast to their opponents the Republicans, who were concerned with liberty and disdained tyranny, the federalists favored order and progress while loathing anarchy. They were highly unnerved by the French Revolution and feared that a similar revolution could occur in the United States. It was this line of thinking that contributed to John Adams’ passage of the controversial Alien and Sedition Acts.