I believe that the Whigs and Federalists, although historically represented as distinct parties, in fact, shared common political ideology, represented many of the same interest groups and proposed similar programs and policies. Although there were some differences.
The two parties shared the ideology of a strong central government. Also meaning that both the Whigs and the Federalists favoured a loose interpretation of the constitution. Both parties also felt that the federal government should pay for internal improvements and that the state should not be required to come up with the funds on their own.
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A major interest of the two parties was to protect American industries, because of this, both parties were in favour of protective tariffs. The Federalists were made of the merchants, bankers, and industrialists, basically the rich. In 1836 the Democratic-Republicans were made up of farmers and small businessmen, thus showing that the Whigs greatly consisted of the upper class.
There were many similar programs and policies proposed by the Whig and Federalist parties. Whig party leader Henry Clay proposed the American System which consisted of three of the points in Alexander Hamilton’s financial plan, who was a federalist. Those three points were the national bank, protective tariffs and internal improvements.
The national bank was begun by the Federalists. The Republicans next came into power and allowed the bank charter to expire. When the Whigs came into power they rechartered the national bank.
Although there are these many similarities, of course, the parties were not the exact same. The Federalists supported Great Britain in foreign affairs. One of the Whig party leaders, Henry Clay, was a Warhawk. The Warhawks supported a war that would have been fought against Great Britain. James K. Polk had a slogan of 54 40 or fight, referring to the Oregon territory. Had the United States fought for Oregon, it would have been against Great Britain.
The Federalist party support came mainly from the North. Meaning that it was a sectional Party. Whereas people from all across the country supported the Whigs, making them a national party.
So even though the Federalist and Whig parties shared a common ideology, represented many of the same interest groups and proposed many of the same programs and policies, they also had a few glaring differences.
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