Why was Jefferson often forced to abandon his political beliefs and principles during his two terms as President? Cite specific evidence.
Foreign policy was the Jefferson’s central motive from deviating from traditional Republican beliefs. Firstly, the Louisiana Purchase challenged his strict interpretation of the Consititution, for nowhere in the Constitution did it state that the government could acquire land(especially from purchasing said land). Furthermore, British and French aggression towards trade led Jefferson to pass the Embargo Act of 1807, a national policy that was enacted at the states’ expense.
Throughout Jefferson’s presidency, he constantly contradicted his policitcal beliefs with his actions. His mere presence was a contradiction. Jefferson was born into a wealthy and aristocratic family but he did “common”, average things like walking to his own inauguration. Another example is how he handled Hamilton’s financial framework. Hamilton was Jefferson’s version of Lex Luther, yet when he became president, he left Hamilton’s financial framework (the one that he had fought against) intact. The Louisiana Purchase also shows a moment where Jefferson’s beliefs and actions contradicted. Jefferson firmly supported a strict interpretation of the Constitution yet he bought Louisiana from the French even though this authority is not specifically stated (in the Constitution) or granted to the federal government. Jefferson’s presidency was one of the most succesful and beneficial presidencies to date. I believe his contradictory behaviour was the key to his success. Jefferson was not concerned with ruling the country under his specific beliefs. Instead, he wanted to do what was best for the United States, even if in the short term, it did not support his opinions.
While Jefferson was president he was forced to make choices the reflected opposite of his own beliefs. One of these times was with his purchase of Louisiana. Jefferson beileved in “strict” interpretation of the Constitution, and since it never clearly stated that the President could obtain new territory, he struggled with whether he should buy it or not. In the end, he did go against his normal interpretation and buy Louisiana. Another time Jefferson faced a situation that challenged his veiw point was with the Pirates of North Africa. Jefferson was openly against war, yet he chose to fight the pirates instead of shoveling out more funds for protection. He concluded that paying for the war would be less costly than paying for protective measurments. Both of these scenarios show how Jefferson firmly believed in what was best for the nation as a whole more so then what he personally believed. Caring about the over-all good as opposed to what is in the best interest of ones self is what put America ahead and Jefferson succeeded greatly in this area.
While serving as President, many labled Jefferson as a hippocrit because he went against his strict political views on different occasions and made decisions that he previously condemned. One suh example is his purchase of the Louisiana Territory. Jefferson believed in the strict interpretation of the constitution which did not give the federal government the power to purchase land. Jefferson made the decision to go ahead and by it, even though an amendment ahd not been passed, becasue he feared that Great Britain would come out with the upper hand if he did not take immediate action. His defiance of his beliefs turned out ot be very beneficial to the United States. The Louisiana Territory nearly double the size of the U.S., and reopend the port of New Orleans for trade. In the long run, it was a good thing that Jefferson decided not to be so stubborn about his political beliefs!
I think Jefferson was often forced to abandon his principles because they weren’t practical when it came to running a nation. Firstly, Jefferson was a pacifist in a time when war was frequently necessary. If a nation didn’t stand up for itself, it would be manipulated and crushed by foreign powers. Although it was against his beliefs, Jefferson put America first and went to war with the Barbary pirates. Secondly, Jefferson’s theory of “strict interpretation” was not sensible. The constitution was too vague to be strictly interpreted, giving the federal government little power to do even what was in the nation’s best interest. When Napoleon offered to sell the Louisiana Territory, Jefferson was in a dilemma. The constitution did not specifically give the government the right to purchase land, but the territory would greatly benefit the country. Once again he abandoned his principles for the good of the nation and agreed to the purchase. Although Jefferson’s decisions often conflicted with his beliefs, he led the nation successfully and became an example of a true American leader.
Throughout his two terms as president, Jefferson constantly contradicts his ideas and beliefs. As we learned from the previous chapter, Jefferson and Hamilton butted heads about the Constitutionality of Hamilton’s economic plans, specifically over the creation of a national bank. However, as Jefferson came into power, he went against his original position on the matter by keeping the bank and other systems established my Hamilton. In 1803, when Napoleon wanted to sell the Louisiana Territory to the US, Jefferson heavily debated it’s constitutionality because the Constitution had not specifically granted executive powers the right to purchase land. Despite his strong belief of “strict interpretation”, Jefferson sealed the deal with Napoleon and doubled the size of the nation as a result. In addition, the Embargo Act of 1807 was enacted under Jefferson’s rule. The Embargo Act, while it’s intended use was good-natured, demolished the US economy. Thusly, the act hurt Americans and caused European nations to find trade alternatives and lose interest in the US economy. While Jefferson began his term determined to stick with his beliefs, I think he was brought to his knees when he was forced to come to terms with the notion that strict interpretation could not work. Jefferson was an acceptable president, but his decisions were often shakey and unpredictable (can you say Bipolar Disorder?!).
Throughout Thomas Jefferson’s presidency he was forced to make political decisions that countered his own ideals,so that the nation would be most benefitted. Jefferson’s beliefs on strict interpretation were not reflected in his decisions concerning the Embargo Act and the Louisiana Purchase. The Embargo Act made a tariff on imports from other nations. The reasoning behind this was that it was cause Americans to buy within their nation, thus encouraging a strong economy. This directly conflicted with Jefferson’s own ideas because as a Democrat Republican he believed that the President had no right to make an act that controlled all the nation, and not give states the right to decide. However he had to make the decision on what would be best for the nation’s economy. Another example of how Jefferson stepped out of Democrat Republican bounds was the Louisiana Purchase in which he doubled the size of the nation. Jefferson really struggled with the concept of if this purchase was constitutional. He didn’t believe that the Constitution gave him the right to the Louisiana Purchase; however, he would make the nation’s size would double. He obviously in the end decided it was okay to deviate from party beliefs if it benefitted the country.
During his presidency, Jefferson made different decisions that contradicted his political philosophy of strict interpretation of the Constitution. When Jefferson bought the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon, he had no permission from the Constitution to do so. Another example would be when Jefferson decided to go to war with in North Africa. Although he did not advocate war, it was much cheaper than paying for a year’s worth of protection. Although Jefferson went against his political beliefs, he was making the best decisions for the good of the nation.
Jefferson was forced to contradict himself several times during his presidency. The only reason that his did this however was because it was for the good of the country. One example is the Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson made the decision to go against his belief of strict interpretation because the he saw that the purchase would double the size of the U.S. and gain many positives for the country. In this particular situation contradicting his beliefs was the right thing to do for the good of the country. Another time that he went against his beliefs was when he created the Embargo Act of 1807. Jefferson believed that making an exception to his beliefs would help the country. The act went against his principles of strict interpretation because the Constitution did not specifically state that he could completely stop trade; it only stated that he could regulate it. However, Jefferson knew that occasionally putting aside his personal beliefs would be beneficial for the country.
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