October 25

Blog #160 – How Jeffersonian was Jefferson?

So, in the handouts on Thomas Jefferson and his attitudes on slavery, race, the economy, society, and other things written before he became president, many of you thought that he was inconsistent in some areas (race and slavery among others) but yet consistent in other things (belief in agriculture and the need for more land).

As a man of principle, Jefferson tried to live by his beliefs, but when he became president in 1801, he had a chance to put his beliefs into action.  Though he hated banks and strenuously opposed the creation of the Bank of the U.S. in 1791, he let Hamilton’s bank remain intact during his presidency.  In other ways, he remained true to his principles.

Thomas Jefferson Presidential $1 Coin | U.S. Mint

As you look over the notes we collected as a class, the Louisiana Purchase article, and the items discussed, I want you to answer the following questions:

  1. Before he became president (and using the quotes we looked at this week), in which area was he most consistent and why?  And in which area was he most inconsistent and why do you think this?  
  2. As president from 1801 – 1809 (and using the notes we compiled on his presidency), in which area(s) was he most consistent?  Explain why.  And in which areas was he most inconsistent and why?  

Blog response due by Saturday, October 28 by midnight.  Your total answer for both questions above should be a minimum of 400 words.  

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Posted October 25, 2023 by geoffwickersham in category Blogs

64 thoughts on “Blog #160 – How Jeffersonian was Jefferson?

  1. Vidushani Hettiarachchi

    Thomas Jefferson, the second president of the United States, was one of the most contradicting man in American history. Though, he stayed consistent with his beliefs of a weaker central government and agarinism. In his letter to George Washington written in 1787 he wrote, “Agriculture … is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals & happiness”. He believed that America should be aligned with an agricultural economy rather than an industrial one, Hamilton’s views, because he wanted America to essentially trade internally rather than to have it trade with other countries and have strong tariffs. He also didn’t want a strong central government because he was afraid that it would give the government too much power and control the citizens’ rights like how it was before the American revolution. One area where he was most inconsistent was when he wrote in the Declaration of Independence that was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, “We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” (The Declaration of Independence,1776). I think this is very contradicting because he says that men are equal but while saying all of this, he owned many slaves. Although back then, enslaved Africans were considered “property” instead of people, it’s still hard for me to understand why he wouldn’t consider the fact that Africans were just as human as the rest of us and why they wouldn’t be able to get the same rights as white men. During Thomas Jefferson’s presidency from 1801-1809, adding on to what I said before, he was most consistent with his morals of having an agrarian economy. In context, The Louisiana Purchase was large western land through Mississippi and Missouri rivers that Jefferson wanted and later acquired. According to The Louisiana Purchase: A Dangerous Precedent written by Walter LaFeber, “But when he became president and saw a chance to double the size of the United States by purchasing the Louisiana Territory, Jefferson abandoned strict constitution and embraced the Federalist doctrine of “loose construction,” for that was the only way he could justify the annexation of territory” (LaFeber 188). By doubling the size of the United States, you get more land and he wanted more land for agricultural purposes. He switched ideals to accomplish this goal which was persistent of him. Also in this quote, you can see how his impulsive actions come into play which answers the question of which areas he was most inconsistent in during his presidency. As I said before, he switched ideals to accomplish this goal. This makes him very untrustworthy and especially since he was the president of the United States, it was hard to know if he was certain of his actions or not. I think he was inconsistent in these decisions because he was the president of the United States which gave him a lot of power to conduct and it’s hard to follow so strictly especially if you believe in something else so you have to work around it. Which meant giving up some of his beliefs in order to purchase the Louisiana Territory.

  2. Ian Whan

    Thomas Jefferson, in my opinion, was most consistent in applying his strict interpretation of the Constitution while he was not president. A major point of conflict for Jefferson was Hamilton’s idea to establish a national bank that would limit state debt. The necessary and proper c lause of the constitution, which says that the national government can enact any laws not already stated in the constitution if necessary for the country, provides support for Hamilton’s concept. Hamilton saw it to be required. Jefferson maintained that the United States did not need to borrow money because the Constitution didn’t allow it.

    Regarding slavery, I truly think Jefferson’s positions were the most inconsistent before becoming president. Jefferson declared that all men are equal when he was writing the Constitution. Jefferson had said that slaves were “deemed for freedom”. Like what does that even mean, if he means he believes they should be freed, then why didn’t he try to free active slaves, and why did he own around 600 slaves himself. Did Jefferson really believe all men are created equal? I don’t think so and here’s why. As a slaveowner, he forbid the global slave trade,which doesnt really make sense, but there were still many loopholes to get slaves, also he did not ban slavery, just made it harder to get slaves. His lack of the fulfillment that all men are created equal also extends to the Natives. He even believed that they were closer to being equal to whites than blacks. So why didn’t he grant them any rights to their land? Why did he constantly allow Americans to migrate onto their land? Why did he not try harder for them to have a better quality of living? And if “all men” aren’t all men, why state it in the first place. The only thing he accomplished by writing this is making himself seem like a better person on paper, and broadcasting he is a hypocrite in the following years of him writing the quote, “all men are created equal”, because clearly he didn’t mean all men. He never truly acted on considering all men. It’s honestly like he was making fun or mocking his own words by not acting on his writing.

    Jefferson developed a loose interpretation of the Constitution throughout his presidency, which was very contradictory to what he believed in prior to his presidency. A good example of this was when France offered him the Louisiana Territory. There was nothing in the Constitution that allowed the president or Congress from purchasing land, but there was also nothing saying that he could not either. During his presidency, he did take advantage of the offer given by Napoleon to purchase the Louisiana Territory. During Jefferson’s presidency, he very much changed his political beliefs.

  3. Matias Bolanos

    Before he became president (and using the quotes we looked at this week), in which area was he most consistent and why? A big consistency from Jefferson before he became president was how he did not support the idea of creating a National bank because he thought it was unconstitutional because it was never mentioned that the constitution authorized the creation of a National bank, he also believed that the bank could become very corrupt which could be dangerous because the government could abuse its power as shown in quote from Jefferson on financial institutions in 1791 “I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies…”

    And in which area was he most inconsistent and why do you think this?
    Before Jefferson became the third president of the United States he used to be very inconsistent on his beliefs about how all man should be created equal and have the same rights and be free, in one of the articles from the Jefferson Ideologies called Jefferson on the Relationship between Government and & the People in which he mostly talked about the Natural rights, freedom of religion, freedom of press, everyone should be educated, and how the United States has spread freedom all over the world; but Jefferson owned slaves, he also did not treat women and Native Americans the same way like not having the right to vote as white men which really contradicts his ideologies of all man being equal.

    As president from 1801 – 1809 (and using the notes we compiled on his presidency), in which area(s) was he most consistent? Explain why.
    One of the most consistent from Jefferon were his beliefs on farming. Jefferson believed that agriculture would contribute to the wealth of the country as shown as in one of the articles called the Jeffersonian Agrarianism excerpt A we can see Jefferson’s opinion on the four pillars of national prosperity and the number one for Jefferson is agriculture and he explains that it is important because of its productivity and link to virtue and independence, which then also ended up being of one the many reasons why he bought the Louisiana territory during his presidency in 1803 which doubled the size of the US and gave the people more space to plant and to grow crops.

    And in which areas was he most inconsistent and why?
    When Jefferson became president he was a very strict interpreter of the constitution but as time passed he switched to a less strict interpreter of the constitution which is shown when he made the Louisiana purchase which was not part of the constitution for presidents to buy land to expand the country.

  4. Gabe Macwilliams

    Prior to becoming president, Jefferson was a firm believer in strict interpretation of the constitution. The issue of strict vs. loose interpretation of the constitution hardly was an issue until Hamilton proposed his idea of a national bank in 1790. While it is unclear whether Jefferson stood by strict interpretation because of morals or out of disagreement with Hamilton’s plan, but nonetheless he stood by those values (Before presidency). This strong belief led him to defy his superior, Washington’s command, and create political parties while his presidency was ongoing. Likely, Jefferson knew of the downsides of this action, and did it to keep consistent with his ideas. On the contrary, Jefferson was very inconsistent about the issue of slavery before his presidency. He argued for the freedom of mixed enslaved children, saying that “Reducing one to servitude is a violation of the law of nature” in 1770, later complained about states wanting to abolish slavery in 1781. 3 years later in 1784 he advocated for a ban of slavery in the Northwest Territory, all while having slaves of his own. Every one of these 4 examples contradict each other, most likely for reasons of personal gain. Jefferson was a very smart individual, he would not change his belief on a massive topic like this day to day. However, when “changing his beliefs” allows Jefferson to reap the benefits of owning slaves while still recognizing its harmfulness, and avoid claims of hypocrisy, he would do it. Jefferson cared about African Americans, but he cared about his wallet more. Inconsistent beliefs were the only way to balance these two ideals, so Jefferson was led to that.

    As a president, Jefferson managed to impressively stay very consistent in his idea of permanent neutrality. In the face of a massive conflict, such as the Barbary Pirates capturing American ships and taking their men and goods, Jefferson never declared war, and was incredibly careful as to ensure his actions didn’t lead to war. Despite this consistent policy of neutrality, Jefferson was quite inconsistent in his method of achieving neutrality. From 1801-1805, he would constantly attack the Barbary Pirates, strategically, thwarting the outlaws and staying neutral in the process. Later, as British ships would follow largely the same process, ambushing defenseless ships and ravaging them, Jefferson was forced to take different action to remain neutral. He issued the Embargo Act of 1807, completely ceasing trade for the remainder of his presidency. Jefferson needed to be inconsistent, because if he employed the same tactics he used against the Barbary Pirates on British vessels, war would’ve likely started. The pirates were privateers, and wouldn’t respond to attack in a militaristic way. The British, on the other hand, were the most militarized state in the world, and likely would have retaliated with a declaration of war. It is easy to view the Embargo Act as a negative because of its effects on the economy, but it was very successful in its purpose, keeping America neutral.

  5. Rhian Dansby

    Jefferson wasn’t very Jeffersonian once he became president because of the way he often contraindicated his beliefs and views on things. Before Jefferson became president he believed that no one with power could do what was not in the constitution. He and Hamilton went at it because of this idea. (when Hamilton wanted the bank and Jefferson said he couldn’t make a national bank because it wasn’t in the constitution and that the central government could not do it) They even formed different parties (federalist and anti-federalist/democratic-republican) because of this. Before Jefferson was president he was most consistent with believing that the central government shouldn’t have much power. He believed that having a central government would be like a monarch (like the king in Britain) and so he was very particular about that and he took it very seriously. Jefferson was most inconsistent in his thoughts on slavery and race. Jefferson was originally anti-slavery. Even though Jefferson was anti-slavery he was still very racist. He believed that Black men were inferior to white men. He also said that he intended to include blacks in the thought that all men were created equal and were entitled to the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness but he changed his views during the debates over Louisiana when he opposed a proposal ban on slavery in the new territory, and he argued that they were not capable of self-government.

    When Jefferson became president he often contradicted his opinion. Jefferson stayed most consistent with his thoughts on an agrarian country. Jefferson always wanted a country where everyone owned their own farms and everyone was independent in how they made their money (specifically with agriculture). During his presidency Jefferson purchased Louisiana. Jefferson believed that buying Louisiana would be good for the country since it would double the size of the United States and everyone would then be able to own their own land to be used for agriculture. Adding on Jefferson also believed that if you own your own land, you can vote and make food to supply to everyone. I felt Jefferson was most inconsistent with his beliefs on no one being able to do what is not in the Constitution. Jefferson buying Louisiana even though it wasn’t in the constitution was his changing his beliefs on this. At the beginning of his presidency, he believed that no one should have too much power and that you can’t do things that are not stated in the constitution making him a strict interpreter, but once he became president and when it came to purchasing Louisiana he no longer followed that and became a loose interpreter.

  6. Kabir

    Before he became President, the area that Thomas Jefferson was the most consistent in was the economy. More specifically, his belief in agriculture. For example, Thomas Jefferson said in 1783 “Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God…”. This quote proves that he saw farmers and agricultural workers as some of the most important people in society. Four years later, in a letter to George Washington, he mentioned, “Agriculture…is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness”. This again solidifies the belief that before his presidency, he was a huge supporter of agriculture. His ideal economy was an agrarian society led by farmers. He truly believed that this was the best way to move America forward. He believed that farming land makes people independent. The area that Jefferson was most inconsistent in before presidency is slavery and race. There are many examples of this. Firstly, in 1769, a slave had run away named Sandy. When Jefferson found Sandy, he sold him to a colonel for one hundred pounds. In just the next year, he was an attorney for freedom of enslaved children. In that case (which he lost), he mentioned, “…all men are born free…”. Later, in 1774, he said that the colonies wanted to abolish domestic slavery and that it was necessary to do so. However, in 1781 he said that black people are inferior to white people in both their body and mind.

    When he became President, the area Jefferson was most consistent in as President was foreign policy. For example, he stood consistent with what he believed in 1789. In 1789, he said that standing armies are inconsistent with freedom and naval forces are better. As President, he cut the size of the army which keeps consistent with his belief. Also, when he considered wars with Barbary States in 1792, he said, “I prefer obtaining peace by war than by tribute payment”. This keeps consistent with his beliefs as later as President, he does go to war with the Barbary States. The area Jefferson was most inconsistent in as President is his beliefs on the Constitution. When Hamilton proposed a National Bank (before Jefferson was President), Jefferson wanted a strict interpretation of the Constitution and said that Hamilton’s argument that powers are implied sometimes is wrong. However, when he became President and had the opportunity to purchase Louisiana, no clause in the Constitution said a President could buy foreign land. He went ahead and did it anyway, thus breaking his prior beliefs.

  7. Sofia Alrawi

    For many years before his presidency, Thomas Jefferson firmly believed in the Democratic-Republican ideas of a weak central government, strict interpretation of the Constitution, an agriculturally based country, and equality. When analyzing his contradictory behavior, I believe Jefferson was most consistent in his support of agriculture as the key to success, respect, and wealth in American society. By pushing the idea that agriculture was necessary to prove a person’s worth and bring wealth to a man and his family, Jefferson amassed a large following of rural Americans and farmers who could relate to his views. They wanted the opportunity to climb the class ladder and make a name for themselves without the influence of generational wealth. Despite the Federalist’s attempts to glorify national wealth and the important influence of the upper class on politics, Jefferson stood with the people who put their faith in him and actively criticized the anti-American path that the Federalists had gone down. However, his actions towards equality were not so consistent in the way he viewed and treated African American citizens. While supporting the idea that men were born free and equal as well as voting for laws that aided emancipation, Jefferson himself had hundreds of slaves working on his plantation. Not only had he supported slavery and the slave trade, but further worsened his contradiction by having children with an enslaved woman and refusing to grant them freedom, even putting them to work on his plantation. After becoming president, however, Jefferson became even more inconsistent with the Democratic-Republican system he had so strongly supported. He began to lean towards a loose interpretation of the Constitution, which included keeping Hamilton’s national bank and most notably his acceptance of the Louisiana purchase. With Jefferson’s massive expansion of the country, an act which had not been formally allowed in the Constitution, he went directly against the strict interpretation that he and his followers had come to believe in. Still, rather than abandon their president, many Democratic-Republicans saw the benefit in the purchase and switched sides, forcing the Federalist party to follow suit. Regardless, most of Jefferson’s actions as president consistently kept with his view that America should be supportive and open to farmers and the lower class. Upon taking office, he removed the unnecessary taxes such as the whiskey tax that had been passed by Federalist vote. Additionally, he repealed the Alien and Sedition Acts that had been unconstitutional to the First Amendment, protecting the rights of immigrants in favor of an America that was open to all people. Finally, though inconsistent with the Democratic-Republican system, the Louisiana purchased opened up a seemingly endless amount of land for the growth of agriculture, providing more Americans and immigrants soil to farm on.

  8. Hadi Berro

    1. Before he became president (and using the quotes we looked at this week), in which area was he most consistent and why? And in which area was he most inconsistent and why do you think this?

    Before Jefferson became president he was most consistent in his ideas about an agrarian society and individual liberty. When Jefferson says, “All men are born free, everyone comes into the world with a right to his person.” (1770) He is adding on to his idea of individual liberty. Before his presidency Jefferson was also very consistent with his idea of an agrarian society he relays this idea in a letter he sent to Goerge Washington in 1787 when he says, ” Agriculture… is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness.” Before becoming president Jefferson was most inconsistent with his ideas on slavery. In 1784 Jefferson stated, ” After the year 1800… there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the said states, otherwise than in punishment of crimes…” Jefferson also spoke a lot about how slavery was immoral and wrong. The problem with this is that Jefferson was a slave owner and had more than 600 slaves under his service during his lifetime. He also spoke on how African Americans were inherently inferior to white people, and that over time they might become the same level as them, so in this circumstance, he was being hypocritical and contradictory.

    2. As president from 1801 – 1809 (and using the notes we compiled on his presidency), in which area(s) was he most consistent? Explain why. And in which areas was he most inconsistent and why?

    Jefferson during his presidency from 1801 to 1809 was most consistent in his ideas of reducing the power of the federal and central government. He talked a lot about this before his presidency and during it. He accomplished it when he reduced military and government funds and reduced the national debt, which in turn reduced national taxes that would then go to the federal government. He was also consistent in his idea of creating and basing America on an Agrarian society, he tried to accomplish this during his presidency by promoting and encouraging eastward expansion and the settlement of yeoman farmers. Jefferson was most inconsistent during his presidency in the enforcement of the Embargo Act of 1807. The Act was intended to protect Americans and their economic interests, but it backfired on them. In order to try and enforce the act and make it better Jefferson contradicted his belief of limited government power. Jefferson was also inconsistent in dealing with the Native Americans during his presidency. On one hand, he talked about how Americans should deal with the Natives peacefully when expanding into their lands. On the other hand, he supported policies such as the Louisiana Purchase that left tribal tribes like the Cherokee Nation to be removed.

  9. Lauren Goins

    Throughout his career, Jefferson was known for his conflicting actions and words. However, before his presidency, his views on education were consistent. In 1779, Jefferson proposed a three level education system required for children of both genders. On top of that, he also founded the University of Virginia in the year 1819. These developments reflected his views on education well, because they showed that he valued education highly enough to make an effort to include the female and enslaved populations into his plans.
    In opposition to his views on education, Jefferson’s views on slavery/racism were very inconsistent. Even though Jefferson didn’t seem to morally agree with slavery, he did nothing to address his concerns. But, his conscience felt no guilt when referring to the value of indigenous and enslaved, in comparison with the white male. The only confusion that accompanied these views of his, were why he believed that the indigenous were up to par with the white people, but the black people weren’t. Furthermore, it makes no sense for him to want to educate enslaved people if he thinks that they won’t be able to use it, like the white people can, until centuries later. I think that this apparent inconsistency is a reflection of Jefferson’s internal battle winning himself, explaining why him contradicting himself is not something uncommon.

    Jefferson’s opinions on agrarianism were unwavering before and after his presidency; a fact that became plain through his eagerness to go through with the Louisiana Purchase, although it was against his better judgment. Even before his presidency, Jefferson felt very strongly that “those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God”. He also believed that America should have focused solely on the agriculture industry, and import all manufactured goods from Britain. I think this is because he saw the potential in the vast lands of North America, and wanted to best utilize it, in hopes of creating an economy and industry that would bring prosperity and would be specific to the U.S.
    During the time of his presidency, his position on the limits regr=uarding the president’s power changed significantly. Early in his first term, Jefferson felt it necessary to repeal the alien and sedition acts because it implied that the president could import/deport immigrants as she/she pleases. However, later in his presidency, Jefferson used secrecy and silence to manipulate congress, giving him an almost temporary access to the powers that he stripped from the president the very minute that he enforced the repeal of the Alien and Sedition Acts. This sudden change in behavior because his overall impact seemed to be his biggest priority.

  10. danedimmer

    Before he became president (and using the quotes we looked at this week), in which area was he most consistent and why? And in which area was he most inconsistent and why do you think this?

    Before Jefferson was president I believe he was most consistent in his belief that we needed a lack of a strong central government, he did not believe in that form of government as he didn’t want America to be like a monarchy. He believed in freedoms like the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and the freedom of press and felt like a strong central government would restrict those freedoms. He liked the organization of the US government into different branches and he liked that the greater house of representatives was chosen by the people directly because in his words it preserved the fundamental principle that the people are not to be taxed but by representatives that they chose themselves. He wanted an agrarian type of government where the country was mostly farmers and he didn’t believe in a national bank because he didn’t want one bank to control the whole country’s money and believed they were more dangerous than standing armies. He kept these values for most of his life which is why I believe it was the most consistent area in his political career. His most inconsistent probably has to deal with race and slavery, he wanted the slaves to be free but he still believed they were inferior to white people and Native Americans, he even said that African Americans could only be equal if they were nurtured for generations. He also happened to own slaves despite saying slavery should be abolished and said it hurt everyone white or black.

    As president from 1801 – 1809 (and using the notes we compiled on his presidency), in which area(s) was he most consistent? Explain why. And in which areas was he most inconsistent and why?

    Jefferson’s most consistent part of his presidency was having an Agrarian government. He did not want the new European idea of industrialization and believed in a more agricultural farmer based government and wanted to keep industry based government in Europe. He thought that the only way America could prosper was because of this. He also believed that taxes should vary depending on how much property you had, he didn’t want poorer farmers to go broke paying taxes the rich pay. The Louisiana purchase did also positively affect his Agrarian government because of all the potential farmland he received. Jefferson’s most inconsistent part of his presidency was keeping the national bank despite saying it was dangerous. All his arguing with Hamilton became worthless as he didn’t keep his word. The Louisiana Purchase while helping his Agrarian society also happened to be unconstitutional and went against his weaker central government ideas.

  11. Mamy Diop

    Thomas Jefferson was most consistent with his idea about agriculture. He believed that the economy would prosper as long as we stayed an agricultural country . An example of this belief is in his letter to Washington he wrote, “Agriculture…is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals & happiness.” The area he was most in disagreement with was his ideas about slavery. Thomas Jefferson owned 100’s of slaves throughout his life time, but he also fought a case to allow mixed children to be free and even agreed with the law to ban the slave trade in 1808. Through history we see Thomas Jefferson on both sides of the argument, to this day we still don’t fully know where he stood on the matter. At one point he even said that he believed black people could be taught to be “better”, although that idea is still demeaning at the time it was incredibly progressive.
    One area Thomas Jefferson was consistent in throughout his presidency was his view of excessive taxation. The moment he entered office he began repeal, what he saw as excessive, taxes like the whisky tax. And throughout his presidency he didn’t levy many taxes on the people. The area he was most inconsistent with was how closely he interpreted the constitution. From the beginning Jefferson believed the constitution needed to be followed word for word, if it’s not written then it’s unconstitutional. This was Jefferson’s main reason for hating the National bank, and why Jefferson and Hamilton never got along. However when the proposed purchase of Louisiana was put on the table, Jefferson switched sides. Although he never fully gave up on his strict interpretation of the constitution he understood that this was too big of an opportunity to pass up. Jefferson wanted to look for a loop hole, a way to make it constitutional. He proposed the idea of an amendment but his advisers told him, with the time limit, if he mentioned an amendment to the house there’s no way it would be approved in time. So instead of sticking to his principles he went ahead with the purchase. The issue is he was setting a precedent, at the time he most likely didn’t think about this, but future presidents would follow in his footsteps.
    Through Jefferson’s presidency and even before his presidency he changed his morals a lot. The questions becom was he just changing as a person and developing new ideas or was abandoning his principle to do what he thought was best for America.

  12. Charlisa P

    [ Was granted an extension so I could do the post on Sunday after debate tournament 🙂 ]
    1a. Before Thomas Jefferson was president, he was most consistent with his support of France. He (and in general, the Democratic-Republicans) tended to support France. Thomas Jefferson thought of the French revolution as a result of a “ball of liberty” that “will roll around the globe,” and was sympathetic to the French revolutionary cause. He saw America as the pioneer in a great movement of democracy and even helped write the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which was a centerpiece of the revolution. Even during the Quasi war with France, when the majority of Americans and a great number of his own party were clamoring for war with France, Thomas Jefferson still advocated for France
    1b. Before Jefferson was president, he was inconsistent with his view of slavery. On one hand, Jefferson wrote a condemnation of slavery in the original Declaration of Independence (it was removed from the final draft to avoid offending the Southern colonies). He even signed the 1808 bill outlawing the International Slave Trade in the US and fought for slavery to prohibited in all expanded western territories (the legislation failed by one vote). On the other hand, Jefferson owned hundreds of slaves, enslaving his own children, and criticized the Missouri compromise. He didn’t recognize the slave government led by Toussaint L’ouverture in Haiti, likely because he didn’t want to legitimize or inspire slave revolt.
    2a. When Jefferson was president, he consistently believed in his vision of an agrarian America and considered farmers “the chosen people of God,” writing to George Washington that agriculture “is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.” He also believed that independent farmers wouldn’t be corrupted easily and would act a vital check against despotism. At the time, voting wasn’t private. This meant that since wage earners were dependent on their employers, they could be forced to vote as their bosses dictated. Additionally, Jefferson facilitated the Louisiana purchase, which opened up a large western territory for settling and farming.
    2b. When Jefferson was president, he was inconsistent with his interpretation of the constitution. Before he was elected, Jefferson adopted a strict interpretation of the Constitution, opposing Hamilton’s plan to create a national bank because he wanted to control the power of the central government. After he became president, however, he allowed the bank to stay in operation and even switched stances. Jefferson became a loose interpreter of the Constitution in order to justify the Louisiana purchase and establish appointed governors in acquired territory (treating them like a colony and not holding elections.

  13. Vishwa Charabuddi

    Jefferson fiercely upheld a strict and concise interpretation of the constitution, aiming to safeguard against tyranny. This conviction was notably demonstrated in his opposition to Hamilton’s national bank proposal.

    His adherence to this belief laid the groundwork for the formation of political parties during his presidency. Jefferson’s wavering stance on slavery is apparent in his conflicting declarations. In 1770, he advocated for the liberty of enslaved children, stating that “anyone to servitude is a violation of natural law.” He had also expressed discontent towards states seeking to abolish slavery and he pushed for a ban on slavery in the Northwest Territory despite being a slave owner himself. These contradictions seemingly served his personal interests rather than representing genuine ideological shifts.

    While Jefferson maintained a steadfast commitment to neutrality, his approaches varied significantly. Through the Barbary Pirates, many involved consistent attacks aimed at neutralizing them without provoking a war. On the other hand, when confronted with British aggression, he utilized a different strategy to sidestep conflict.

    Moreover, The Embargo Act of 1807, which affected trade throughout his term, is widely criticized for its economic impact. It effectively preserved America’s neutrality against the British by signaling a departure in certain tactics to deter potential conflict. His methods were pivotal that mirrored his actions against the pirates with the British might have incited military retaliation, a risk he strategically avoided. Despite the repercussions, the Act successfully maintained America’s neutrality, showing the necessity of Jefferson’s adaptable approaches even though he wasn’t as “Jeffersonian” as expected.

  14. Juliette Shebib

    The second president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, is known to be very inconsistent about his ideals in history. Before he became president, one of the areas I believe he was most consistent in is in his beliefs about slavery and the freedom of mankind. During the Samuel Howell V. Wade Netherland case, Jefferson states that “Under the law of nature, all men are born free, every one comes into the world with a right to his own person, which includes the liberty of moving and using it at his own will. That is what is called personal liberty, and is given him by the author of nature, because necessary for his own sustenance. Reducing one to servitude is a violation of the law of nature…” This quote shows how Jefferson seems to believe that all men should be free and forcing them to servitude is a violation of natural rights. However, Jefferson himself still owned hundreds of slaves. Besides this, one area I believe Jefferson was consistent with was in his belief of not supporting a notional bank. He was most consistent in this area before his presidency because he believed in holding up a stricter interpretation of the constitution that only allowed for things specifically stated in the constitution.

    Even after Jefferson became president in the year 1801, he still had some very contradicting views. For example, before Jefferson became the president, he held up the strict interpretation of the constitution and was against Hamilton’s proposition of a bank because it stated in the constitution that it was allowed. However, when it then came to the Louisiana purchase, Jefferson had to loosen his interpretation in order to justify his purchase of the Louisiana territory. This is contradicting because prior to his presidency, Jefferson had an extremely strict interpretation of the constitution which was used to help explain why he was opposing Hamilton and was against a national bank. One area that Jefferson remained consistent in was with his ideas that the central government should have reduced power. He brought up his point multiple times before his presidency, though he put it to action when he became president by reducing military and government funds which soon led to the reduction of federal taxes, as well as reducing the U.S’s national debt that soon led to the reduction of federal taxes that went to the government.

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