In the two decades prior to the Revolution, the Americans built up a series of grievances against the British government. Those complaints were clearly articulated in the Declaration of Independence…..
To what extent did the Federalist administrations of George Washington and John Adams promote national unity and advance the authority of the federal government?
George Washington and John Adams were the first two presidents of the United States. As they had just fought a civil war against their oppressive mother country, it was only fitting that they were federalists. Federalists believed in national unity and a strong central government. They knew that in order for the country to succeed, a strong central government was needed.
As a result, their administrations were built around promotion of national unity and advancements of the authority of the federal government. However, there was a limit to what extent they were successful.
In my opinion, Washington was highly successful in promoting national unity. Starting from his first inaugural address into his second term, Washington set a tone and example in all his actions that advanced the authority of the federal government. In his first inaugural address, he said that the federal government would not be exceeding its limits and it will be respected by all others.
This gives the rest of the country a feeling of unity and authority.
Then, Washington’s secretary, Alexander Hamilton, goes against Thomas Jefferson to say and back up his view that the National Bank was constitutional. Washington, along with Adams, stood by this notion throughout their respective terms. This also increased the idea that the federal government had authority. Since Jefferson was preaching that the constitution should be interpreted strictly and therefore, the bank was not constitutional, and both Washington and Adams went against him openly on this idea, this showed the country that the federal government had power and it gave them more authority.
In addition, The Sedition Act of July 1798 went ahead and increased the authority of the government. It stopped anyone and everyone from talking, writing, and publishing anything false and malicious about the government. This way, the media could no longer talk bad about anyone associated with the federal government. This act did not unify the nation, but it advanced the authority of the federal government.
As you can see, this is why I believe that George Washington and John Adams, and their administrations, promoted national unity and advanced the authority of the federal government. They were strict federalists, who believed in loose interpretation of the constitution and a strong federal government. Heeding well to their ideals, they built a strong federal government that possessed powerful authority. In addition, their administrations promoted nation unity and did in fact unify citizens all around the country, save a few radicals. In conclusion, I believe both Washington and Adams went to great extents to follow their federalists ideals and as a result, they were successful.