The Federalists Yesterday, the Tea Party Today

  • There is an interesting Op-Ed piece in The New York Times (7-Aug-2013), by James Traub, that compares the modern Tea Party and its crusade to prevent illegal immigrants from gaining a path to citizenship with the Federalist Party of the nascent U.S. Because the Federalists culturally identified with New England and the mid-Atlantic, the Louisiana Purchase (1803) — which more than doubled the size of the country — threatened to marginalize them. Every Federalist in Congress save John Quincy Adams voted against the Louisiana Purchase, says Traub. In addition, fearing that immigrants would vote for the Republican Party of Jefferson and Madison, they also sought to restrict newcomers from holding office.

     

    Of course the Federalist Party collapsed because it could not — or would not — adapt to demographic realities. And the Tea Party?

JDN | 7-Aug-2013

The most inadvertently prophetic words that Adams ever uttered were his last: Thomas Jefferson survives. For it was the Jeffersonian image that broke free of the aggregated anonymity, the founders or the fathers, and eventually ascended into heaven with Washington. During the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Jeffersonian legacy became the most adaptable and all-purpose political touchstone in American political history.

Joseph J. Ellis
Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams (1993)