As the 1800 presidential election neared, Americans braced themselves. The Federalists, who dominated the presidency and both chambers of Congress, had become convinced that the Republicans, who functioned as the emerging opposition party, wanted to bring down the government itself and undermine the Constitution. A Connecticut Federalist predicted that if the Republicans won, “there is scarcely a possibility that we will escape a Civil War. Murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will all be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of distress, the soil will be soaked with blood, and the nation black with crimes.”
To Republicans, on the other hand, it seemed that the Federalists were using their power repeatedly to stifle any political opposition. Since the nation began, the Federalists had been pretty much in control: both presidents had been Federalists, and their faction had held the majority in the Senate continually and in the House in all but four years during the mid-1790s. Moreover, they viewed opposition as tantamount to insurrection, and had launched one action after another to repress it.