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Article Review - Fears of the Federalists

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In the article Fears of the Federalists, Linda Kerber exposes the main thoughts of the Federalists toward the Jeffersonian approach to politics which they counted as “dangerously naïve”. The author states that Federalists stood against Democratic-Republican ideas and had strong fears of its consequences. She cites the H. L. Mencken’s words about two kinds of democrats, “those who see liberty primarily as the right of self-government, and those who see it primarily as the right to rebel against governors” (Kerber). According to Kerber, the Federalists had been seen the Jeffersonian’s popular democracy as a source of a wrong liberty which, in Federalist’s point of view, will lead to civil unrest, disunity and disorganization of a state, and, eventually, weak economy of a nation. In addition, Kerber mentioned that Federalists accused Democrats in ungodly leadership: Jefferson’s support of religious freedom and his encouraging of the separation of church and state made Federalists think that democrat’s leader went away from religious ideas on which new America was founded.

I agree with the argument that Kerber brought in her article

Federalists stood for strong centralized government. They wanted greatly increased and influenced government which will be able regulate business and industries and secure civil rights and social services. As it is stated in Give Me the Liberty, “Their [Federalist’s] outlook was generally elitist, reflecting the traditional eighteen-century view of society as fixed hierarchy and of public office as reserved for men of economic substance . . . Federalists feared that the “spirit of liberty” unleashed by American Revolution was generating into anarchy and “licentiousness” ” (226). Indeed, there were such sufficient reasons that formed the Federalists’s point of view as French Revolution of 1793-94, and Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 in home country.

On the world political scene, the French Revolution of 1793-94 was “Reign of Terror” where radical actions, including arrest and executing of Louis XVI, and complete restructure of French society took place (POWER POINTS). Even some anti-federalists whom were sympathetic to the French Revolution had the common with Federalists fears: fears of the existing of revolt against legal power as it was in France. According to Federalists, such a revolt will destroy a centralized government and put the U.S in a civil war. “Federalists insisted that Americans interpret the French Revolution as a cautionary tale. Democracy was never static; constant vigilance was required to keep popular government stable. And many Federalists had come to fear that Americans lacked that vigilance”, writes Kerber in her article. (Kerber)

On the country side, the expectation of violence went from recognition the fact of “changing social balances” and “decline of deferential behavior” (Kerber). Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 in home country demonstrated there changings. “The “rebels” invoked in symbols of 1776, displaying liberty poles and banners reading “Liberty or Death” (Give Me the Liberty). At the same time, according to Kerber, “… the early stages of industrialization and urban growth were providing the ingredients of a proletariat; there already existed a volatile class of pennanently poor who, it was feared, might well be available for mob action. Finally, the expectation that the republic might deteriorate into demagogery and anarchy was given intellectual support by the widely accepted contemporary definitions of what popular democracy was and the conditions necessary to its stability “    



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