Essay about The Jeffersonian Republicans And Federalists

Essay about The Jeffersonian Republicans And Federalists

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By 1817 the great American experiment was in full swing. America was developing into an effective democratic nation. However as the democracy continued to grow, two opposing political parties developed, the Jeffersonian Republicans and the Federalists. The Jeffersonian Republicans believed in strong state governments, a weak central government, and a strict interpretation of the Constitution. The Federalists saw it differently. They opted for a powerful central government with weaker state governments, and a loose interpretation of the Constitution. The seemingly solid divide between Federalist and Republican would begin to blur during the presidencies of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. For, neither Republican president was able lead the nation with purely republican ideals.

In 1800 Jefferson entered office with the intention to move away from the Federalist policies of Washington and Adams and to put the nation onto a path that he thought would be best. He wished to minimize the power of the central government by strengthening the state governments. “Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government…” (Document A). Jefferson and the Republican Party envisioned a government that was going to work for the people, a government with the people’s interests at heart. They believed that having stronger state governments would accomplish this. The leaders of a state were closer to the people they were governing; therefore they should know what the public needed. Document B refers to Jefferson’s belief in the strict interpretation of the Constitution, especially when it is about the freedom of religion. “Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious...


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...zed that some of their principles had to change. The country would never stay united if the country kept advancing and the government stayed stagnant. As Jefferson once wrote, “…I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind…institutions must advance also and keep pace with the times.” (Document G). Jefferson realized in this letter to Samuel Kercheval that, sometimes, people’s ideas and beliefs must grow and change in order to make things better and to stay with the times. The Jeffersonian Republicans also realized this, which is why they adopted some of the ideals of the old Federalist Party. In no way can we characterize the Republicans as strict constructionists or Federalists as broad constructionist. Both parties shared ideas and while the Federalist as a party died out, their ideas lived on in Republican policy.

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