One of the most recent of political phenomena is the political party. Since the beginning of government there have been opposition groups or factions, but the officially recognised political party, with its relatively permanent and highly developed organization, is an institution not to be found before the eighteenth century. And it was not really understood or accepted as a part of the political system of the state until well into the nineteenth century. The framers of the American Constitution had nothing except fear for the results of the spirit of faction and they made no provision in that instrument by which political parties could have any place in the government. Most of them seem to have believed that this evil spirit is inevitable because it comes from causes sown in the nature of man, but their only serious proposal for dealing with it was to provide some institutional device that would check its more serious effects. Madison contended that the very size of the new state would serve this function; others argued that the system of checks and balances would have such a result. It would seem that they were most nearly correct when they asserted the inevitability of factions, Within a few months of the new government's establishment there were signs of an alignment into antagonistic groups in Congress and even in the Cabinet. By the end of Washington's second administration there were organised parties throughout a large part of the nation.
Most of the controversy during the first few years of the new government centered about the financial and commercial program of Alexander Hamilton, first Secretary of the Treas-