Anti-Administration Party
LeaderJames Madison
Thomas Jefferson
Henry Tazewell
Founded1789; 234 years ago (1789)
Dissolved1792; 231 years ago (1792)
Preceded byAnti-Federalists
Merged intoDemocratic-Republican Party
HeadquartersPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania
NewspaperNational Gazette
American nationalism
Classical liberalism
Political positionLeft-wing[4][7]
Colors  Tea green

The Anti-Administration party was an informal political faction in the United States led by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson that opposed policies of then Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in the first term of US President George Washington. It was not an organized political party but an unorganized faction. Most members had been Anti-Federalists in 1788, who had opposed ratification of the US Constitution. However, the situation was fluid, with members joining and leaving.

Although contemporaries often referred to Hamilton's opponents as "Anti-Federalists", that term is now seen as imprecise since several Anti-Administration leaders supported ratification, including Virginia Representative James Madison. He joined former Anti-Federalists to oppose Hamilton's financial plans in 1790. William Maclay, a leader of the faction in the Senate, used in his Congressional diary the term "Republican".

After Jefferson took leadership of the opposition to Hamilton in 1792, the faction became a formal party, Jefferson's Republican Party, which is often called the Democratic-Republican Party by historians and political scientists.


Further information: First Party System

At the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and during the ratifying process in 1788, Madison was one of the most prominent advocates of a smaller national government. He wrote The Federalist Papers, together with Hamilton and John Jay. In 1789 and 1790, Madison was a leader in support of a new federal government with limited powers.[8]

At the time, the concept of a loyal opposition party was novel.[8] However, Madison joined with Henry Tazewell and others to oppose Hamilton's First Report on the Public Credit in January 1790. The creation of the coalition marked the emergence of the Anti-Administration party, which was then based almost exclusively Southern. Madison argued that repaying the debt rewarded speculators,[9] and his proposal to repay only the original bondholders was defeated by a vote of 36 to 13.[9] Hamilton's report also provided for the assumption of state debt by the federal government. Since Massachusetts, Connecticut and South Carolina owed nearly half of this debt, other states resented assumption. The House of Representatives passed the bill without assumption, but the Senate included that provision. The deadlock was broken by the Compromise of 1790, a deal between Madison and Secretary of State Jefferson on one hand and Hamilton on the other, which included both assumption and the location of the national capital in the South, which later became the District of Columbia.[10][11]

In the summer of 1791, Jefferson and Madison brought the journalist Philip Freneau, a fiery editor of a New York City Anti-Federalist paper, to Philadelphia to start an Anti-Administration newspaper, the National Gazette. Jefferson gave the only State Department patronage position that he had to Freneau.[12]

During the Second Congress, the Anti-Administration elements were more numerous and included about 32 House members out of 72. In 1791, Madison and Hamilton again clashed after the latter proposed the creation of a national bank. Southern planters opposed but urban merchants supported the idea. Madison called the Bank unconstitutional, but Hamilton successfully argued that the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution allowed the bank.[13]

The French Revolutionary Wars, which began in April 1792, hardened the differences between the factions. The Pro-Administration party generally supported the British or wished to remain neutral, but the Anti-Administration party supported the French. Jefferson joined the latter party in 1792, and it contested the election that year and was called the Republican Party. Politics now became more stable, with well-defined parties (Hamilton's Federalist Party and Jefferson's Republican Party). That created the First Party System, which lasted for two decades.[14]


  1. ^ Ohio History Connection. "Democratic-Republican Party". Ohio History Central. Retrieved August 30, 2017. Democratic-Republicans favored keeping the U.S. economy based on agriculture and said that the U.S. should serve as the agricultural provider for the rest of the world [...]. Economically, the Democratic-Republicans wanted to remain a predominantly agricultural nation, ... .
  2. ^ Beasley, James R. (1972). "Emerging Republicanism and the Standing Order: The Appropriation Act Controversy in Connecticut, 1793 to 1795". The William and Mary Quarterly. 29 (4): 604. doi:10.2307/1917394. JSTOR 1917394.
  3. ^ Adams, Ian (2001). Political Ideology Today (reprinted, revised ed.). Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 32. ISBN 9780719060205. Ideologically, all US parties are liberal and always have been. Essentially they espouse classical liberalism, that is a form of democratized Whig constitutionalism plus the free market. The point of difference comes with the influence of social liberalism.
  4. ^ a b Larson, Edward J. (2007). A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America's First Presidential Campaign. p. 21. ISBN 9780743293174. The divisions between Adams and Jefferson were exasperated by the more extreme views expressed by some of their partisans, particularly the High Federalists led by Hamilton on what was becoming known as the political right, and the democratic wing of the Republican Party on the left, associated with New York Governor George Clinton and Pennsylvania legislator Albert Gallatin, among others.
  5. ^ Wood, The American Revolution, p. 100
  6. ^ "Democratic-Republican Party". Encyclopædia Britannica. July 20, 1998. Retrieved August 30, 2017. The Republicans contended that the Federalists harboured aristocratic attitudes and that their policies placed too much power in the central government and tended to benefit the affluent at the expense of the common man.
  7. ^ Ornstein, Allan (9 March 2007). Class Counts: Education, Inequality, and the Shrinking Middle Class. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 56–58. ISBN 9780742573727.
  8. ^ a b Wood, Gordon S. (2009). Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 140. ISBN 978-0-19-503914-6.
  9. ^ a b Wood. p. 141.
  10. ^ Wood. p. 141–142.
  11. ^ Chernow, Ron (2010). Washington: A Life. New York: Penguin Press. p. 631. ISBN 978-1-59420-266-7. LCCN 2010019154.
  12. ^ Risjord, Norman K. (2010). Jefferson's America, 1760-1815. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 267–68. ISBN 9780742561243.
  13. ^ Wood. p. 145.
  14. ^ Chambers, William Nisbet, ed. (1972). The First Party System.

Further reading