The Federalist and Republican parties, first formed in 1790, differed on most major issues, and although they did agree that liberty for the American people was paramount, their views were polarized when it came to how much impact such liberty should have on government. Federalists believed that the electorate held too much sway over government, while Republicans believed state power should be limited.
While both parties differed on almost every topic of debate, there were a number of points that defined the conflict between them.
- The Federalists were keen to maintain diplomatic ties with Great Britain, whereas the Republicans wanted to cut these ties, although they were sympathetic to France and some other European powers.
- Federalists thought that the national government should cede some accountability to the electorate, using the argument that frequent elections and participation hindered the ability of the state to effectively govern. Republicans, on the other hand, actively promoted and encouraged more participation at the grass-roots level.
In general, Federalist support was centered around New England, with a small minority of support in Southern states. Republicans held the most influence in the South, especially in Virginia, although some scattered support could be found in New England.