Thomas Jefferson: A Political Compromiser?

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The election of 1800 was a bitter one: there was constant slandering from both the federalist and the democratic-republican sides, but ultimately Jefferson won. In Thomas Jefferson: Political Compromiser, Morton Borden analyzes Jefferson’s presidency and ideals to question how he achieved so much success: did Jefferson simply adapt to gain support? During his presidency, Jefferson often stuck to his party roots. However, Jefferson also enacted very impartial, federalist policies that underscored Jefferson’s importance as a “political compromiser.” It’s clear that Jefferson used both types of policies in order to close the gap between the parties. Many historians have concluded that Jefferson simply “out-federalized the federalists” in order …show more content…
Early on, Borden notes that “his presidency was marked by Federalist policies which encouraged the growth of central power” (39). Quickly, Jefferson had decided to use the economic backbone the Federalists had created to protect the period’s tremendous economic growth. The Banks of the United States still operated, and Jefferson encouraged urban growth, westward expansion, agricultural production, and the construction of infrastructure (38). He even used federal money to lay the groundwork for the “famous” Cumberland road, and supported the usage of another $20 million to expand other national roads and canals (40). Incredibly, in matters of foreign affairs, Jefferson began to adapt the Federalist view of loose Constitutional interpretation. In 1801, Jefferson dispatched a naval squadron to stop the Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean—as they took tributes from the U.S. and many other nations. Jefferson didn’t initially run this decision through Congress, as he believed this would advertise America’s strength and help economically (38). And then, in 1803, Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France. The Constitution didn’t mention anything for such acquisition of foreign territories, but Jefferson wanted America to expand and for people to move westward. He also …show more content…
Jefferson began closing the gap as soon as he became president. During his inauguration speech he stated: “We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all republicans—we are all federalists” (36). Ultimately, beyond the differences, the federalists and democratic-republicans had the same principles and goals: they wanted to better the nation and lead it to success. Jefferson understood this, and during his presidency tried to improve the nation any way possible—using both federalist and democratic-republican policies. In spite of this, Borden believes that biographers have too often taken “the popular view of Jefferson and his enemies” and “missed or misconstrued the reality” (40). The best example, Jefferson and Adams, had disagreements, but Borden points out that they were also similar. They both wanted “to avoid war, to quiet factionalism, to preserve republicanism” (42). Fittingly, from 1812 to 1826, Adam’s and Jefferson’s friendship renewed through a series of “masterful” correspondences (42). By closing the gap, Jefferson was putting the nation first—benefiting all

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