I have been fascinated to learn that many of the political battles that are being fought in Washington today are almost identical to the fights that took place in Washington's, Adams', and Jefferson's time. Even in those days, there was a fight of the elite against the common man; there were fears by the Federalists that the filthy masses would take things over and completely ruin the republic; and on the part of the Republican's the fear existed that a self-appointed elite would take over the government, give themselves lifelong terms of office, and institute a system of hereditary power. Admittedly, the particulars of modern vs. eighteenth century politics are different: we no longer worry that a monarchy will be established in the U.S., but we do worry that a virtual monarchy will arise, imposed by the corporations, and by people like the Koch brothers.
Moreover, because of the threat of the breakup of the Union over such things as excise taxes, and the refusal of the government to relieve people of their debts, and the added threat of retaliation by England, after the Revolution, people like Washington and Adams believed that they must ignore the civil rights of the people. They attempted to curtail such rights as freedom of assembly, and the right of the press and political opponents to criticize the government. They broke up protests by the use of violence, and threw journalists, and even politicians into prison for criticizing the government. There were even demands to impeach George Washington for allegedly ignoring the mandates of the Constitution. .
These actions bring to mind the modern crises entailed in the so called Patriot Act, and in the intrusion of the NSC into everybody's business, allegedly to protect us from the evils of terrorism.
I was especially surprised by the tactics that Hamilton and the Federalists used to frustrate the workings of Democracy. They used every trick in the book to illicitly defeat Jefferson in the 1800 election. It reminds me of the tactics the Republican Party has been using.
I was surprised by the facts about the early days of the Union that I have been learning; but I, in a way, I am also reassured. It proves that this country can survive some really traumatic crises, and yet continue to be the only country in the world with the freedom that we possess.