IT HAS OFTEN been remarked that while the framers of the Constitution made no provision for political parties, the governmental structure they set up was so awkward that it could not have functioned without them. Whatever truth there be in this assessment, the Constitution did provide the structure for the development of national parties. By imposing severe restrictions on the states in such fields as debtor relief, where local partisanship had been most intense, and by adding new powers to the federal legislature the Constitution virtually required the state parties to expand their horizons.
The first federal election presented instant opportunity. The election of congressmen, senators, and Presidential electors was a continuation of the battle over the Constitution because both sides recognized the importance of controlling the new government. And because of its importance, the election encouraged new organizational efforts and interstate collaboration. It was an important step in the transition from local partisan groups to a national party system.