In which John Green teaches you where American politicians come from. In the beginning, soon after the US constitution was adopted, politics were pretty non-existent. George Washington was elected president with no opposition, everything was new and exciting, and everyone just got along. For several months. Then the contentious debate about the nature of the United States began, and it continues to this day. Washington and his lackey/handler Alexander Hamilton pursued an elitist program of federalism. They attempted to strengthen the central government, create a strong nation-state, and leave less of the governance to the states, They wanted to create debt, encourage manufacturing, and really modernize the new nation/ The opposition, creatively known as the anti-federalists, wanted to build some kind of agrarian pseudo-paradise where every (white) man could have his own farm, and live a free, self-reliant life. The founding father who epitomized this view was Thomas Jefferson. By the time Adams became president, the anti-federalists had gotten the memo about how alienating a name like anti-federalist can be. It’s so much more appealing to voters if your party is for something rather than being defined by what you’re against, you know? In any case, Jefferson and his acolytes changed their name to the Democratic-Republican Party, which covered a lot of bases, and proceeded to protest nearly everything Adams did. Lest you think this week is all boring politics,you’ll be thrilled to hear this episode has a Whiskey Rebellion, a Quasi-War, anti-French sentiment, some controversial treaties, and something called the XYZ Affair, which sounds very exciting. Learn all about it this week with John Green.
Hey teachers and students – Check out CommonLit’s free collection of reading passages and curriculum resources to learn more about the events of this episode. Much of America’s politics came from debates between democratic republican Thomas Jefferson and federalist Alexander Hamilton: https://www.commonlit.org/texts/alexander-hamilton
While Jefferson would go on to become president, Hamilton heavily influenced President George Washington who set many American political ideals in his farewell address that Hamilton helped craft: https://www.commonlit.org/texts/washington-s-farewell-address
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