Who's Vision Did America Follow? Essay

1261 words - 6 pages

America has gone through an incredible journey to be the country it is today. Whether it was discovering new territories, developing new connections between regions, or acquiring knowledge to benefit the land, America has grown into a prosperous country with significant ideals that were developed by its founding fathers. Two of the country’s founding fathers were Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams. Though both had some differing visions for America, the country was founded on a combination of both of their insights and wisdom.
Thomas Jefferson belonged the the Republican Party, while John Q. Adams belonged to the Federalist Party. Surprisingly enough, Jefferson and Adams were good friends before their differing political stands drove them apart. Jefferson found himself in the Republican Party because he shared their views, particularly their dislike of the federal government. Jefferson believed that “there was in every nation a natural aristocracy of the most talented men that would naturally rise up in a free society.”1 Because of this, he believed that power should be divided among the states instead of being centered in the federal government. In contrast, Adams believed the exact opposite. He stood for a strong federal government because he thought it was essential to the new country. He did not believe in Jefferson’s view of the “aristocracy rule” because he thought that system would become corrupt. Adams felt that having a government composed of a strong executive branch along with checks and balances “were necessary to fight the inevitable corruptions that comes with political power.”2 By having checks and balances, one person would not be more powerful than the other. In this way, Adams believed that the government would be able to govern the new country with justice and equality.
Even though they belonged to different political parties, both men agreed that America’s government should be founded on the comfort and security of all the people. Jefferson was considered an “enlightened” man because of his strong desire for the philosophy of Enlightenment. Because of his desire, he believed that a country should be governed by the ideals of the Enlightenment- liberty, equality, and reason. Jefferson expresses his passion about the Enlightenment ideals in an honorable government in the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...3

Adams was also considered a philosophical politician, and he expresses his view about government in his pamphlet Thoughts on Government:
Upon this point all speculative politicians will agree, that the happiness of society is the end of government, as all divines and moral philosophers will agree that the happiness of the individual is the end of man.4

From these excerpts, it is evident that both agreed the...

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