Interpreting the Constitution (Strict vs. Loose); Jefferson and Hamilt

1896 Words Dec 21st, 2001 8 Pages
When the Federalist party was organized in 1791, those people who favored a strong central government and a loose constitutional interpretation coagulated and followed the ideals of men such as Alexander Hamilton. The first opposition political party in the United States was the Republican party, which held power, nationally, between 1801 and 1825. Those who were in favor of states rights and a strict construction of the constitution fell under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson. These Jeffersonian republicans, also known as anti-federalists, believed in strict adherence to the writings of the constitution. They wanted state's rights and individual rights, which they believed could only be granted under strict construction of the …show more content…
The acquisition of the Louisiana territory in 1803 was the most notable achievement of his presidency, yet there inconsistency between his actions and his beliefs. Because the acquisition of this territory would change the union, it seemed to him that it should be authorized by a constitutional amendment. The process of amendment was very slow and Jefferson realized that there was no time for strict constructionalism. This purchase violated his constitutional morals and was regarded as a bold, executive action (Peterson, 1975). The popularity that Thomas Jefferson held during his first term as president, quickly changed during his second term in office. Jefferson's second term was less a triumph than an ordeal. His major disappointment had its origins in Europe and because of the Napoleonic Wars, the naval blockades in the Atlantic and Caribbean severely curtailed American trade and pressured the United States government to take sides. Jefferson's response to all this was the passing of the Embargo Act in 1807, which virtually closed American Ports to all foreign imports and exports. The enforcement of the Embargo act required the use of exactly those coercive powers by the federal government that Jefferson has been opposing all along (a strong central government). In the enforcement of this embargo, the government was infringing on the liberties of individuals which was inconsistent with Jefferson's principles (Ellis, 1996).