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

I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self-evident, that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living; that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it. This, with its echo of the Declaration (self-evident) was Jefferson at his most terse. Except for the phrase in usufruct — a legalism meaning the right to use property for a certain time — Jefferson’s words could be chiseled in stone, or shouted on the hustings.

Richard Brookhiser
James Madison (2011)