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Chapter 11

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Chapter 11: "The Triumphs and Travails of Jeffersonian Democracy"

~ 1800 - 1812 ~

I. Federalist and Republican Mudslingers

1. In the election of 1800, the Federalists had a host of enemies stemming from the Alien and Sedition Acts.

2. The Federalists had been most damaged by John Adams' not declaring war.

a. They had raised a bunch of taxes and built a good navy, and then had not gotten any reason to justify such spending, therefore making themselves seem like cheap, as they had also swelled the public debt.

b. John Adams became known as "the Father of the American Navy."

3. Thus, they also launched attacks on Jefferson, saying that he had robbed a widow and her children of a trust fund, fathered numerous children with his slaves ('tis true too), calling him an atheist, and using other inflammatory remarks.

II. The Jeffersonian "Revolution of 1800"

1. Jefferson won the election of 1800 by a majority of 73 electoral votes to 65, and even though Adams got more popular votes, Jefferson got New York, but even though he triumphed, but a technicality, he and Aaron Burr tied for presidency.

a. The vote, according to the Constitution, would now go to the Federalist-dominated House of Representatives.

b. Hateful of Jefferson, many wanted to vote for Burr, and the vote was deadlocked for a long time until Hamilton and John Adams persuaded a few House members to change their votes, knowing that if the House voted for Burr, the public outcry would doom the Federalist Party.

c. Finally, a few changed their minds, and Jefferson was elected to presidency.

2. The revolution was that there was a peaceful transfer of power; Federalists stepped down from office after Jefferson won and did so peacefully, though not necessarily happily.

III. Responsibility Breeds Moderation

1. On March 4, 1801, Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated president in the new capital of Washington D.C.

a. In his address, he declared that all Americans were Federalists, all were Republicans, and all were all, implying that Americans were a mixture, and he also pledged "honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none."

2. Jefferson was simple and frugal, and did not seat in regard to rank during his dinners; he also was unconventional, wearing sloppy attire, and he started the precedent of sending messages to Congress to be read by a clerk.

3. There were two Thomas Jeffersons: the scholarly private citizen who philosophized in his study, and the harassed public official who discovered that bookish theories worked out differently in practical politics.

4. Jefferson also dismissed few Federalist officials, and those who wanted the seats complained.

5. Jefferson also had to rely on his casual charm because his party was so disunited still.

IV. Jeffersonian Restraint

1. Jefferson pardoned those who were serving time under the Sedition Act, and in 1802, he enacted a new naturalization law that returned the years needed for an immigrant to become a citizen from fourteen to five.

2. He also kicked away the excise tax, but otherwise left the Hamiltonian system intact.

3. The new secretary of the treasury, Albert Gallatin, reduced the national debt substantially while balancing the budget.

4. By shrewdly absorbing the major Federalist programs, Jefferson showed that a change of regime need not be disastrous for the exiting group.

V. The "Dead Clutch" of the Judiciary

1. The Judiciary Act, passed by the Federalists in their last days of Congress domination in 1801, packed newly created judgeships with Federalist-backing men, so as to prolong their legacy.

2. Chief Justice John Marshall, a cousin of Jefferson, had served at Valley Forge during the War, and he had been impressed with the drawbacks of no central authority, and thus, he became a lifelong Federalist, committed to strengthening the power of the federal government.

a. Marbury vs. Madison (1803): William Marbury had been one of the "midnight judges" appointed by John Adams in his last hours as president. He had been named justice of peace for D.C., but when Secretary of State James Madison decided to shelve the position, he sued for its delivery. Marshall dismissed the case, but he said that the Judiciary Act of 1789 was unconstitutional, thus suggesting that the Supreme Court could determine the constitutionality of laws (judicial review).

3. In 1804, Jefferson tried to impeach the tart-tongued Supreme Court justice, Samuel Chase, but when the vote got to the Senate, not enough votes were mustered, and to this day, no attempt to alter the Supreme Court has ever been tried through impeachment.

VI. Jefferson, A Reluctant Warrior

1. Jefferson reduced the militia to 2500 men, and navies were reduced a bit to peacetime footing.

2. However, the pirates of the North African Barbary States were still looting U.S. ships, and in 1801, the pasha of Tripoli indirectly declared war when he cut down the flagstaff of the American consulate.

a. Noninterventionalist Jefferson had a problem of whether to fight or not, and he reluctantly set the infant navy to the shores of Tripoli, where fighting continued for four years until Jefferson succeeded in extorting a treaty of peace from Tripoli in 1805 for $60,000.

b. The small, mobile gunboats used in the Tripolitan War fascinated Jefferson, and he spent money to build about 200 of them (these boats might be zippy and fast, but they did little against large battleships). Result: bad decision.

VII. The Louisiana Godsend

1. In 1800, Napoleon secretly induced the king of Spain to cede the Louisiana territory to France.

2. Then, in 1802, the Spaniards at New Orleans withdrew the right of deposit guaranteed by the treaty of 1795; deposit privileges were vital to the frontier farmers who floated their produce down the Mississippi River to its mouth to await oceangoing vessels.

a. These farmers talked of marching to New Orleans to violently get back what they deserved, an action that would have plunged the U.S. into



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