Jeffersonian Republicans Essay

723 words - 3 pages

Jeffersonian Republicans

With respect to the federal constitution, the Jeffersonian Republicans are usually characterized as strict constructionists who were opposed to the broad constructionism of the Federalists. To what extent was this characterization of the two parties accurate during the presidencies of Jefferson and Madison.

Before 1801, the Jeffersonian Republicans were usually strict constructionists of the constitution. However during the presidencies of Jefferson and Madison they had to adopt some Federalist ideas. In many instances, the two parties completely interchanged their views on the construction of the constitution. During that period of time it was difficult to characterize anyone as a member of either the Federalist or Republican party based on how they interpreted the constitution.

The best example of Jefferson adopting Federalist ideas is the Louisiana Purchase. From the beginning Jefferson only wanted New Orleans and as much land east if the Florida as possible. However instead he was offered the New Orleans and a huge portion of land to the west, which almost doubled the size of the United States. However the was nothing in the constitution which allowed the president to purchase of additional land. In a letter he said "It is the case of a guardian, investing the money of his ward in purchasing an important adjacent territory; and saying to him when of age, I did this for your good"(Jefferson). Jefferson knew that American farmers needed more land, and he had to go against his belief of a strict constitution. However during the same time the Federalists became strict constructionists of the constitution. They argued that this transfer of land was unconstitutional. The Federalists said that this new land was worthless and would only put the country even more in debt. Their main reason for that was that the creation of new states would decrease their power in congress.

The Louisiana Purchase was not the only time Jefferson adopted the ideas of federalists about loose construction of the constitution. After he was reelected, war soon broke out in Europe between English and French. British needed more manpower and financial aid for the war soon began impressing American...

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