Which Party Would You Support?
rjlipkin at aol.com
rjlipkin at aol.com
Thu Jun 15 11:25:39 PDT 2006
I want to ask what might be a sophomoric question or set of questions. Which side of the political divide would you support during the period of 1800--1812? It seems that Republicans vied with Federalists in 1800 and to some significant extent afterward. But the Federalists splintered into different factions--depending how much equality could be tolerated. Similarly, Republicans splintered into three different factions--this time according to how much equality was embraced. The political divisions certainly were over more than the abstract notion of equality, but for a brief post that seems as good an organizing principle as any. Further, constitutional meaning has changed significantly since that era. Nevertheless, I am puzzled by my (sophomoric) question, I want to know which side, if any, I'd support? I like the Federalists for their nationalism, but cannot countenance their disdain (even contempt) for democracy. I like the Republicans' commitment to equality,!
but detest their unwillingness to eliminate slavery. Who would I support if I were transported back to that tumultuous era? Who would you support?
One final and only tangentially related question: Why do we consider the Federalists to be "the Founders" when they seem to have been repudiated during the first few decades of the nineteenth century? Thus, arguably one might contend that subsequent constitutional and political development shows that the Federalists conception of the Constitution was mistaken and the Republicans' conception correct. Another sophomoric question?
Robert Justin Lipkin
Professor of Law
Widener University School of Law
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