Autopsy of the Federalist Party: A Wrap-Up

Unpopular Policies

Under President George Washington, Jay's Treaty was passed in attempts to make peace with Great Britain regarding trade. This came to the disdain of many, and would serve as the first of a series of unpopular decisions made by Federalists in control. While Federalists took a very Pro-British stance at this time, Democratic-Republicans supported France. 

Under President John Adams, the Alien and Sedition Acts were passed to restrict naturalization of citizens from foreign countries (Alien Act) and prevent the media from maliciously speaking out against the government. In a country built on ideas such as free speech, these acts were wildly unpopular 

XYZ Affair and Quasi-War

After the signing of the Jay Treaty, France felt that the United States had taken Great Britain's side in the ongoing conflict between the two nations. After a failed attempt under George Washington's presidency to work with France on this issue, John Adams sent three diplomats, who returned with various demands by the French from the United States. This lead to anger within Congress, and sparked the creation of the U.S. Navy and building of warships. In 1798, Congress authorized the newly created Navy to attack French warships, which became known as the Quasi-War with France.

Adams decision to send diplomats to France, the French reaction upon receiving them, and the attacks against France were unpopular with many opposing the Federalists, and only added fuel to the fire sparked by the Democratic-Republicans in removing the Federalists from power. 

Electoral Map of 1800

Electoral Map of the Presidential Election of 1800

Image Credit:

The Revolution of 1800

By the time the Election of 1800 came around, many were furious with Federalist policies and decisions. By mobilizing a populist base, Thomas Jefferson and his Democratic-Republicans successfully took over the United States government in what became the first peaceful transfer of power between two political factions in one country 

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

James Madison

The Hartford Convention

Set off by the ongoing War of 1812 with Great Britain, Federalists met in Hartford, Connecticut in 1814 to create policy proposals that favored their views. During these talks, the idea of seceding from the rest of the Union was discussed. Upon news of this, the Federalists were marked as traitors to the Union, and never regained political traction in America. This was the last nail in the coffin for Federalists, ultimately signalling the death of any major political influence they would have. 

The Hartford Convention or Leap No Leap

Hartford Convention or Leap No Leap, by William Charles

Autopsy of the Federalist Party: A Wrap-Up