The adoption of the Constitution in 1787 established a strong federal government for the United States and codified the principles of a country that balanced the interests of divergent political, social, religious, and economic groups. The logistical necessities of organizing these interests on a federal level contributed to the establishment of national political parties during George Washington’s first term in office. Though President Washington warned of the dangers of factionalism in his farewell address, the advantages these organizations possessed for achieving their policy goals made parties an integral part of the political system. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the United States experienced a period of tremendous territorial expansion. The challenges resulting from the spread of political and social institutions—most notably, slavery—across the continent deepened sectional divisions into a national crisis by the 1850s. The Civil War was the bloodiest conflict in American history, and the war and its aftermath profoundly altered the political, social, and economic characteristics of the United States.
In this assessment, you will explain the characteristics of the First Party System in the United States and its legislative consequences. You will also examine the growth of the sectional divisions in the United States during the nineteenth century leading up to the outbreak of the Civil War.