Thomas Jefferson was a Democratic-Republican who served as the third president of the United States. While many people believed in a strong central government, Thomas Jefferson believed the opposite. As a founder of the Democratic-Republican party, he believed that most of a country’s political power should reside in the state and the federal government’s abilities should be as limited as possible.
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While many agreed that the federal government was free to overlook the constitution in order to accomplish their goals, Jefferson believed in a strict translation of the constitution, regardless of what the federal government desired. He valued individual liberties, states rights and equality. However, once he became president, Jefferson was not persistent in abiding by his true beliefs and ideologies. Occasionally, he would disregard the constitution in order to achieve what he felt were his presidential duties. Although his actions as president did not reflect his political views, Thomas Jefferson felt it was necessary to abandon his personal beliefs in order to serve the people and do what’s best for the country.
Thomas Jefferson was a strict constructionist. He believed that rather than interpreting the constitution liberally, the government should base their actions on the terms specifically stated. In other words, the government doesn’t have any powers beyond what is written. The constitution was created to protect the people’s rights and prevent any governmental power from becoming too strong. Therefore, if the government disobeys the constitution, they would be abusing their power by failing to completely protect the people’s rights. In 1798, John Adams passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which were four federalist-based laws. The Alien and Sedition Acts permitted the deportation of foreigners, unauthorized protesting the government, and made it difficult for foreigners to vote. When Thomas Jefferson realized that Congress was completely violating the constitution, he wrote The Kentucky Resolution, attacking these laws and the government. In these resolutions, Jefferson explained that Congress was exercising power not explicitly granted to them in the constitution. By passing an act that forbade public opposition to the government, Congress was violating the first amendment, freedom of speech. Jefferson knew that if the government continued to pass unconstitutional acts, they would become too powerful. He was anti a strong central government because he feared tyranny and believed that the wishes of the people should guide the country. These resolutions emphasized Jefferson’s firm belief in dominant states rights and strictly abiding by the terms in the constitution. Nonetheless, when elected as president in 1801, Jefferson did not always base his actions on a literal interpretation of the constitution.
Though he did not uphold his personal beliefs, one of Jefferson’s achievements as president was the Louisiana Purchase. In France, Napoleon led his French Army on a campaign to conquer land. He needed money to fund his battles and decided to sell Louisiana because this land was no longer of importance to him.
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