During Jefferson’s presidencies (1801-1809) and Madison’s subsequent one, the Congress of the U.S. was in a sorry state, riven by factionalism and achieving nothing. Two political parties were in play, the Jefferson Republicans, who feared and eschewed authoritarianism, and the federalists, who were more in favor of strong, possibly authoritarian government, maybe even by rejoining the British monarchical system. The Federalists operated chiefly through obstructionism.
In 1812, an exasperated Jefferson wrote to Madison:
“The rancor of parties was revived with all its bitterness during the last session of Congress. United by no fixed principles or objects, and destitute of everything like American feeling, so detestable a minority never existed in any country — their whole political creed is contained in a single word, ‘opposition’. They pursue it without regard to principle, to personal reputation, or the best interests of their country”
“In a republican nation whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance”.
Sound familiar? Nothing new under the sun.
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