The Founding Fathers Loathed Political Parties

It is once again an election year. Media outlets will refer to it as the “midterm election,” and political pundits from the Democratic Party will try to convince us that the problems we are experiencing in America are as result of the Republicans in the House of Representatives. On the other hand, Republican commentators will place the blame on the Democrats in the Senate and White House.

George Washington warned us against party politics. He referred to political parties as factions, and he explained in his farewell address that:

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

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In similar fashion, John Adams warned us against political parties as well. He said:

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There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.

There you have it. Our Founders dreaded political parties. They feared that political parties would “lead to formal and permanent despotism” and serve as the greatest “political evil under our Constitution.” They clearly warned us that the “disorders and miseries” which result from a system of political parties would cause us to seek peace and security in the absolute power of an individual.

A tyrannical individual, King George, III, once exerted his rule over America. His peace and security came with oppression, but our Founders fought a war for independence to sever that association. Our Founders were well aware that “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” They gave us a Constitution, which was written to prevent despotic rulers from seizing power unto themselves.

Thomas Jefferson, in his draft of the Kentucky Resolutions, explained “[i]n questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” Can we honestly say that our contemporary elected representatives, comprised of Democrats and Republicans, in Washington, D.C., are bound from their mischievous actions “by the chains of the Constitution”? No, it appears that the chains have been broken.

The Constitution is not a self-enforcing document. John Adams told us that “[o]ur Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Could it be true that the American people are no longer a moral and religious people, and that is why we have elected representatives and senators in the Congress passing unconstitutional legislation, a president authorizing unconstitutional executive orders and a supreme court looking to and utilizing foreign law in rendering its opinions?

Truly, the issue is not about Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives or left wing verses right wing. What it is really about is right verses wrong. The Bible explains in Proverbs 29:2 that “when the righteous are in authority the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule the people groan.” Is our country rejoicing or groaning? The next question for us to ask is who put them in office? Dare I say it was “We the People”?

Learn more about your Constitution with Derek Howell and the Institute on the Constitution and receive your free gift.


George Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796.

John Adams’ letter to Jonathan Jackson, October 2, 1780.

Lord Acton to Bishop Creighton (1887).

Thomas Jefferson’s Draft of the Kentucky Resolutions (1798).

John Adams to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, October 11, 1798.

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