37 pages 1 hour read

Joseph J. Ellis

American Creation

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2007

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Chapter 5Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 5 Summary: “The Conspiracy”

This chapter tells the story of the development in the 1790s of the two-party system that has become the norm in the United States. It begins with trip up the Hudson River into New England that Madison and Jefferson took in 1791. Ostensibly a “botanical tour,” it also involved serious political discussions. Both were concerned with the passage earlier that year of a law establishing a national bank, the brainchild of Alexander Hamilton. Both likewise felt that Hamilton was leading a takeover of the government by northern bankers.

Madison’s role in this is harder to explain since it was diametrically opposite to the stance he had held during the constitutional convention just a few years earlier. It also contradicted the claim that he and others advocating federalism were the true keepers of the revolutionary flame. Now he argued that among the federalists there had always been a small sliver of secret monarchists, who were now gaining control.

Madison published these ideas in 1791 and 1792, in a series of anonymous essays in the National Gazette, a newspaper run by Philip Freneau and secretly supported by Jefferson (who, as a member of the administration, could not openly embrace opposing ideas).