Jeffersonian democracy is the set of political goals named after American statesman Thomas Jefferson. It dominated American politics in the period of the First Party System, 1800-1820s. It is contrasted with Jacksonian democracy, which dominated the next political era, the Second Party System. The most prominent spokesmen included Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Albert Gallatin, John Randolph of Roanoke and Nathaniel Macon.
In its core ideals it is characterized by the following elements, which the Jeffersonians expressed in their speeches and legislation:
* The core political value of America is representative Democracy; citizens have a civic duty to aid the state and resist corruption, especially monarchism and aristocracy.
*The Yeoman Farmer best exemplifies republican virtue and independence from corrupting city influences; government policy should be for his benefit. Financiers, bankers and industrialists make cities the cesspools of corruption, and should be avoided.
*Americans have a duty to spread what Jefferson called the "Empire of Liberty" to the world, but should avoid "entangling alliances."
*The national government is a dangerous necessity to be instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation or community; it should be watched closely and circumscribed in its powers. Most Anti-Federalists from 1787-88 joined the Jeffersonians.
*Republicanism, also known as representative Democracy, is the best form of government and representative democracy is needed to prevent the tyranny by the majority, as Madison explained in Federalist No. 10
*The wall of separation between church and state is the best method to keep religion free from intervention by the federal government, government free of religious disputes, and religion free from corruption by government.
*The federal government must not violate the rights of individuals. The Bill of Rights is a central theme.
*The federal government must not violate the rights of the states. The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 (written secretly by Jefferson and Madison) proclaim these principles.
*Freedom of speech and the press is the best method to prevent the tyranny of the people by their own government. The Federalists' violation of this idea through the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 became a major issue.
*A standing army and navy are dangerous to liberty and should be avoided; much better was to use economic coercion such as the embargo
When Jefferson assumed the Presidency, the crisis in France had passed. He slashed Army and Navy expenditures, cut the budget, eliminated the tax on whiskey so unpopular in the West, yet reduced the national debt by a third. He also sent a naval squadron to fight the Barbary pirates, who were harassing American commerce in the Mediterranean. Further, although the Constitution made no provision for the acquisition of new land, Jefferson suppressed his qualms over constitutionality when he had the opportunity to acquire the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon in 1803.
During Jefferson's second term, he was increasingly preoccupied with keeping the Nation from involvement in the Napoleonic wars, though both England and France interfered with the neutral rights of American merchantmen. Jefferson's attempted solution, an embargo upon American shipping, worked badly and was unpopular.
· 1 decade ago