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Political parties

Lynne Cheney, author of “James Madison: A Life Reconsidered” in conversation with Walter Isaacson of the Aspen Institute.  Created by Aspen Institute.

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Video transcript

I'm Walter Isaacson of the aspen institute and i'm here with lynne cheney the author of james madison a life reconsidered so Washington becomes president and Madison and Hamilton worked together doing the Federalist Papers all of a sudden they formed two different parties why does that happen well from my point of view Madison was utterly surprised that Hamilton would read the Constitution that Madison had so much to do in creating that Hamilton would read it as a document that permitted government to do just about anything that could be imagined and as Madison saw that was the destruction of constitutional government and the Republic and so they were at loggerheads and stayed at loggerheads for the rest of their lives what happens early in the Washington presidency is the economy gets pretty good in fact maybe too good overheated there's a bit of a bubble Hamilton takes some credit for it but Madison also says that it's an error to think that government has no role in improving the economy what did he mean by that well Madison should be credited with the philosophy that gave us a stable government countries flourish economically for many reasons but one is when the government is stable and Madison with his thinking at the Constitutional Convention gave us that notion of balance that leads to stability and rule of law and contract exactly and so what was Hamilton's you Halton's view was that he and a handful of other really smart and though he wasn't really rich he always thought that smart people eventually ended up rich knew better than everyone else and that too rich and Wellborn he called them which is a little ironic since Hamilton was neither but that the rich and Wellborn should have an undue influence and that the federal government would be the tool but and also one of their splits though is when Hamilton does a report on manufacturers he's envisioning a nation that's really a manufacturing and industrial nation where's Madison and Jefferson and the people formed which is sort of called the democrat republican party back then or that we call now they're looking at a nation more of farmers agrarian and also people who are not involving centralized banking control is that right exactly and ninety-five percent of the country was in fact agrarian at that point and so one can understand their vision but in the long run Hamilton was right the country had to become manufacturing it had to become industrialized and at the end of his life even Madison began to understand that but instead of viewing that part of the conflict I concentrate on the difference between a government that can do whatever it feels is good to do and a government of limited powers which is what Madison firmly believed the Constitution created right and so that promote the general welfare clause is something that Hamilton grabs on to and Madison says no no it's not supposed to give us an unlimited government so you have Madison forming a party sort of with Jefferson and others that's called the Republican Party back then why do we sometimes call the Democrat / Republican part well just to distinguish it from the Republican party today it's not the predecessor of today's republic so in other words did jefferson right and but so that party does believe in somewhat limited government right yes government limited by the powers granted to it in the Constitution and so we end up under the washington administration with a partisan conflict in a way between what i call the Federalists and what to call the Republicans what did Washington feel about that he just hated the whole thing he wanted everybody to get along but fortune unfortunately I don't know how you want to look at it he didn't really help people to get along because he was attached to Hamilton and tended to follow along with whatever Hamilton proposed so basically Washington and his successor John Adams we call Federalists they're under the sway of Hamilton and people like Jefferson Madison and Monroe break off to form another party exactly but Jefferson remains friendly with Washington through and Madison remains friendly to Washington right I don't think so Jefferson became very standoffish you know and Madison was criticizing Hamilton and the papers so that inevitably he was criticizing Washington there was a breach between both Jefferson and Madison that began to form in Washington's administration and so Madison and Jefferson are looking at the election of 1796 hoping that Jefferson will be President yes and they don't get there they come very close but John Adams is elected in Jefferson becomes number two in our next lesson we'll talk about what happens in 1800 thank you