The Federalists, as a rule, were advocates of a strong central government. They were somewhat pessimistic about human nature and believed that the government must resist the passions of the general public. One of the government's prime functions was to maintain order. The Federalists tended to place their faith in the talents of a small governing elite.
Since many Federalists were large landowners, bankers and businessmen, they favored the government's efforts to encourage and protect American industry.
The Federalists were very strong in New England and had large pockets of support in the Middle States.
In foreign affairs the Federalists supported the British, with whom they had strong trade ties, and opposed the French, who at the time were convulsed by the French Revolution.
George Washington would have resented having any party label attached to his name, but he was philosophically aligned with the Federalists. John Adams' administration marked the end of Federalist control of the presidency with Thomas Jefferson's election in 1800 ushering in an era of Democratic-Republicans.
The War of 1812 spelled the end for Federalism as a national force. Some members opposed the War and flirted with secession; Federalism ironically had become a party of states' rights and was largely confined to New England. Rufus King was the last Federalist presidential candidate in 1816.