This Essay Is On Strict Vs. Loose Construction During The Presidencies Of Madison And Jefferson

1167 words - 5 pages

In the early days of the United States of America when the country was beginning to grow under the newly ratified Constitution, there were two main political parties in existence, the Federalists and the Jeffersonian Republicans. From the time period of 1801-1817, the two presidents that were elected to rule the U.S. were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Both Jefferson and Madison were Jeffersonian Republicans who were characterized as strict-constructionists in respect to the federal constitution before they each took the office of the presidency, but when they took office the public found out that Jefferson and Madison's previous characterizations had not been very accurate when, as president, they began to act like the opposite of what they originally believed in.In the years before his presidency, Thomas Jefferson was an anti-Federalist who believed in strict- construction of the Constitution. After the constitutional convention had taken place, Thomas Jefferson petitioned against the ratification of the newly written document, the Constitution. Jefferson also argued for a Bill of Rights in the Constitution. In a letter to James Madison Jefferson called for a Bill of Rights because it provided "freedom of religion, freedom of the press, protection against standing armies, ... and trials by jury in all matters triable by the law." In 1800, Jefferson, along with Madison, wrote the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions to campaign against John Adams after the Alien and Sedition acts were passed. The Kentucky and Virginia resolutions proved Jefferson's strict-constructionism by combating the Federalist theory of a government's "implied powers" and they were written to stop the expansion of power of the government after they had passed two unconstitutional laws. In August of 1800, Jefferson once again expressed his previous beliefs of strict-construction in a letter to Gideon Granger; Jefferson said that America could never be in a state of harmony if citizens "support principles which go directly to a change of the federal Constitution." Because Jefferson believed that the Constitution should be interpreted strictly, he thought that if laws were to keep being passed that went over the Constitution, the government wouldn't be able to run smoothly, and many problems would arise because of the power that the government would gain. Jefferson also believed in the separation of church and state, and in a letter to Samuel Miller in 1808 said the "government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, disciplines, or exercises." Although this took place in the last year of his presidency, Jefferson was reverting back to his old beliefs in strict-construction when he spoke for the feature of separation of church and state.The American people had every reason to believe that when Jefferson took office, he would be the same Jefferson of previous years, and enact his own beliefs...

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