Thomas Jefferson

The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson is often considered a great President. This
assumption, however, is often made because many confuse his actions
as a patriot and a founding father with his legacy as a President.
The reality of Jefferson was a brilliant man and a great patriot but
only an average President. Keep in mind, that analysis is only mine
and can be disputed!

I. The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson

A. Jefferson’s Beliefs

1. He favored states rights over a strong central
government. He supported the idea that states could nullify federal
laws (nullification).

2. He was a strict constructionist – he favored a
literal interpretation of the Constitution.

3. He wanted a smaller government with very little intervention in
daily life.

4. He opposed tariffs.

5. He saw the country as a “nation of farmers.” A
simple land with simple, peaceful needs.

B. Jefferson’s Domestic Changes

1. Tried to cut down costs of government wherever

2. Reduced the size of the army

3. Halted expansion of the navy

4. Lowered expenses for government social functions

5. Wanted to simplify the government’s financial affairs and to
tear down Hamilton’s financial program

C. Jefferson’s Foreign Policy

1. Wanted to follow Washington’s foreign policy of

D. Jefferson deals with crisis abroad

1. War Looms

a. When the war between France and England broke out
he supported the French because they had supported us during the
revolution. He felt we owed it to them.

b. Both England and France were seizing our ships and sailors and
blocking American trade. A policy called

c. Jefferson sent a team to negotiate with the French. Three
French officials, nicknamed X, Y and Z demanded a bribe from the
Americans. This was typical in those days in European politics.
Jefferson refused to pay the bribe. This became known as the
XYZ Affair.

d. Jefferson eventually negotiated a successful treaty anyway but
the French later violated the treaty.

e. As the conflict continued and US ships were at risk Jefferson
ordered an Embargo. This hurt our economy because it
halted trade. It slowed the tensions but made Jefferson very

2. The Louisiana Purchase

a. As the War continued between England and France,
Napoleon needed to raise money. He offered to sell the Louisiana
Territory to America.

b. Jefferson wanted to buy the territory but was a strict
who opposed the elastic
. He saw nothing in the Constitution giving the
President the power to purchase land.

c. Jefferson abandoned his strict constructionist principles and
made the deal using the Elastic Clause. He put the needs of the
nation above his philosophical beliefs.

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