AP US: Thomas Jefferson as President (1801-1809)

Election of 1800: Democrat-Republicans come to power

  • allow Alien and Sedition Acts to expire
  • Legacy of Federalists
    • strengthened central government
    • strong fiscal program
    • diversification of economy
  • John Adams will become the first President to serve only one term
  • Federalist power declines
  • first transition from one political ideology to another is peaceful: a "political revolution"
    • the government doesn't collapse through the change
  • problem with Electoral College
    • two-vote system with President and VP elected separately isn't working with the party system
    • Jefferson (D-R) and Burr (D-R) are both voted for, as the electors have figured out to vote for the same party
    • but they tie for votes
    • if there's no majority, the top three voted-for go to House for election, simple majority with one vote per state
    • Jefferson is elected as President (Burr as VP)
    • Alexander Hamilton supported Jefferson, contrary to his Federalist leanings

Jefferson as President

  • Jefferson will serve two terms as President
  • he was a very multitalented man, philosopher statesman, farmer, and almost all other professions
  • he was also very intellectual
    • wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom
  • he had served as minister to France, Secretary of State, and Vice President
  • however, his Presidency would not positively impact his reputation - after his two terms, he would be viewed as an idiot by the people

Ideology

  • Spirit of the Jefferson Movement
    • Democratic-Republican Party
    • represent interests of the "common man" - farmers
    • agrarian movement
    • Jefferson believes that the future of the nation depends on an agrarian society
    • anti-capitalistic, favours the farmers
    • less power for the federal government
    • strict interpretation of the Constitution
    • known as a Francophile - favours France
  • versus the spirit of the Hamilton Movement
    • Federalist Party
    • interests of capitalistic class
    • power for the federal government
    • loose interpretation of the Constitution
    • future of the nation depends on industry and manufacturing
    • Anglophile - supports Britain
  • once he becomes President, however, Jefferson will be forced to change his philosophy, in the best interests of the nation
    • didn't fire all the Federalists in federal offices, although he could have
    • for his first term, he generally stays with the domestic and foreign policies of Washington and Adams
    • maintains National Bank that he had protested
    • continues Hamilton's debt program
    • tried to stay out of foreign alliances
  • some policies were new
    • tried to reduce size of government
    • less military spending
    • got rid of inaugural parties
    • has Congress eliminate Whiskey Tax

Barbary Coast Pirates

  • Jefferson hated the idea that the United States had to pay tribute to "thugs"
  • he also wanted to cut back on spending, which would include cutting back the military
  • however, he was determined to end a humiliating situation, and looks for a reason to do something about the pirates
  • in 1801, the ruler of Tripoli demanded higher tribute
    • Jefferson decides enough is enough, and sends a military force
  • Tripolitan War (1801-1805)
    • also known as First Barbary War, or Barbary Coast War
    • squadron led by Decatur (first US Marines) is sent to the Mediterranean to battle the pirates
    • a temporary truce is established in 1805
    • full victory will be achieved under Madison's administration in 1812
  • this event causes Jefferson to go back on his policy of limiting spending

Louisiana Purchase - 1803

  • the Louisiana Territory was given to Spain by France at the end of the French and Indian War
  • a "secret" treaty transferred the territory back to France under Napoleon in 1800
  • this threatens the "right of deposit" which Spain had granted to traders, as well as giving France a North American foothold, which did not correspond with US interests
  • Jefferson sent James Monroe and Livingston to France to offer to buy New Orleans for a maximum of $10 million
  • Napoleon is starved for money, so he offers to sell the whole of the Louisiana Territory for $15 million
  • Jefferson sees a constitutional controversy, as do the Federalists - does the President have the power to purchase land?
    • this issue sees a switch in traditional views, Jefferson is in favour of a loose view of the Constitution, which would enable him to but the land; however, the Federalists are in favour of limiting the President's power
    • he doesn't have time to debate the issue, as Napoleon may change his mind quickly, so he goes ahead and makes the purchase
  • Advantages
    • doubles the area of the US
      • increases amount of natural resources
      • gives total control of the entire length of the Mississippi River
    • ends rivalry in the Miss. R. valley, as the French and the Spanish are gone
    • creates a sense of national unity - the federal government is actually meeting the needs of the nation
    • promotes Westward expansion
    • Jefferson is convinced that he has secured the future of an agrarian nation
    • Jefferson was also able to change his core beliefs for the good of the nation
    • everyone is pleased, but the Federalists had been opposed, causing them to lose public support
  • Disadvantage
    • it will pave the way for North-South conflict over the extension of slavery into the new territory
  • Jefferson requests funding from Congress for the Lewis and Clark mission
    • their expedition will allow the US to lay claim to the Oregon territory
    • this area is claimed by the US, Britain, Russia, and Spain

Foreign Policy

  • a temporary peace between Britain and France (1801-1803) is broken by Napoleon in 1803 as he resumes his conquest of Europe
  • this starts a chain of events that will result in the War of 1812
  • France is supreme on land, but Britain is supreme on the seas, so they attempt to break the deadlock by destroying each others' economies
    • British Orders in Council (1806-1807)
      • seek to blockade Europe
      • forbid neutral nations to trade with France or her colonial possessions - which includes West Indian islands that were vital to US trade
    • Berlin and Milan decrees (1807-1808)
      • seek to blockade the British
      • forbid all nation to trade with Britain - this includes the US
    • these blockades severely slow trade - and wartime trade is especially profitable
    • hurts the US economy
    • US becomes resentful against the British, as opposed to the French, because Brit can enforce the blockade - they have a navy
    • the British navy stops and searches US vessels, and presses US sailors into the British navy
  • Chesapeake Affair (1807)
    • HMS Leopold fires on lightly armed US frigate after frigate refused to stop and be searched
    • 3 are killed, and 4 are pressed into service
    • the US is distressed and humiliated, but nothing can be done
  • Peaceful Coersion
    • this becomes Jefferson's policy to respond to Britain's violation of neutral rights
    • Embargo Act of 1807
      • Jefferson thinks that Britain needs US materials more than the US need British trade
      • the British are at war, and thus can't produce enough supplies, food, etc.
      • this act stops all US shipping to foreign ports
      • Jefferson hopes to force the British into giving in and restarting trade, but the British are able to continue the war without US trade - the embargo fails
      • this act destroys the American economy
        • states threaten to secede
        • impacts New England, home of the Federalists, the most
        • this is what Jefferson will be remembered for, especially because it's one of the last actions of his last term in office
      • the people will express their displeasure in the election of 1808, as Democratic-Republican seats are lost in Congress, although another D-R President is elected
      • the Embargo Act is repealed between the election and the end of Jefferson's term of office, and replaced with the Non-Intercourse Act
    • Non-Intercourse Act of 1809
      • re-opens trade with all nations except Britain and France
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