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1998 Dbq

Essay by 24  •  December 6, 2010  •  296 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,322 Views

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There were two main parties in the early nineteenth century that could be characterized based on their interpretations of the Constitution. The Jeffersonian Republicans were seen as strict constructionists, while the Federalists were viewed as broad constructionists. The Jeffersonian Republicans believed that the Constitution should be taken word for word and if something was not specifically granted in the Constitution, then the act could not be carried out. The Federalists believed that they could shape the Constitution as they wished and could be manipulated in order to fit the current situation. These characterizations of the two parties were not totally accurate during this time, seeing how both of them strayed away from their normal beliefs in order to achieve what they wanted.

While Jefferson was in office during the early part of the nineteenth century, he proved himself as a strict constructionist most of the time. In August of 1800, Jefferson's first year of presidency, he stated in a letter to Gideon Granger that he supported the Constitution and it's principles (Doc A). Later, during Jefferson's second term, he stated that the President had no authority to direct religious exercise (Doc B). This represents a strict constructionist view because nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the President had authority in religious discipline. James Madison begins his presidency after Jefferson and looked to keep the Jeffersonian views in office. He helps his cause in 1817 after he rejects a bill to fund for internal improvements. Madison does this because it would give too much power to the central government and it does not state in the Constitution that the President has power to construct roads and canals among several states (Doc H).

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