What caused the demise of the Federalist party?
After the Constitution was drafted in Philadephia in 1787, those
who favored ratification called themselves "Federalists" - also the
name of a famous series of newspaper articles written by Alexander
Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay. Most of the leading men in
the country, including Washington, Madison, Adams, Hamilton and
Jefferson, were united in support of the new government.
Federalists controlled all branches of the US government for the
first three presidential administrations and the programs and ideas
of Alexander Hamilton - funding the debt, establishing a national
bank, promoting commerce and industry, avoiding premature war with
England - prevailed. But divisions began to appear in the early
1790's and some of the original Federalists - Madison and Jefferson
prominent among them - began to oppose the policies of Hamilton and
Washington. They founded an opposition party, which called itself
the "Republican Party" (later the "Democratic-Republican Party). In
1801, the Republicans won the election and placed Jefferson in the
White House. Hamilton was killed in a duel in 1804. The event that
ended the Federalist Party in history is known as the Hartford
Convention of 1814. At the Convention, New England Federalists
vented their anger over Jefferson's embargo, which hurt commerce.
They did not propose secession from the union, but did advance the
idea that the states could nullify "unconstitutional" acts of
Congress, a doctrine later asserted by the South during the run-up
to the Civil War. After the Battle of New Orleans and the end of
the War with England, these positions were exceedingly unpopular.
They were also inconsistent with the longstanding support of
Federalists for a strong and energetic national government.
Federalists were disgraced which led the the end of the party.