Antifederalists and Federalists found common cause in comprehending human nature. That said, each faction responded to this comprehension in widely conflicting ways, establishing an unassailable gulf over the vision of America’s future, the scope and scale of the national government, and conceptions of virtue and vice. Where Antifederalists sought to enforce virtue by establishing an Agrarian Nation and providing for increased yeoman membership in the House of Representatives, Federalists preferred to harness the vices in human nature. By exploiting vice, Federalists dreamt of an expansive, diverse, and formidable America that enticed only the best and most deserving into government service.
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As always, see my graduate work here.
It was inevitable Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson would contest one another. Not because Hamilton argued “broad construction” or for the national government to fulfill the mandate of the Constitution; not because Jefferson argued “strict construction” or that the national government had exceeded its Constitutional mandate. No, “inevitable” because each held as opposing a view of human nature as there could be and these views justified every respective position they explored – for what is more elemental and pervasive than human nature? Hamilton, exhibiting an inordinate amount of Christian influence, very much echoed Saint Augustine of Hippo, without the theological elucidations. The unorthodox and much more secular Jefferson acted as antithesis to Hamilton: rather than a depraved, selfish, sinful race, Man was an untapped font of potential for the Sage of Monticello. In turn, these contrasting views colored the competing visions about government and American living they proposed.
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