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Essay About Thomas Jefferson and His Ideals

Here is an essay about how Jefferson’s ideals changed over the course of his presidency. It is a DBQ.

Jefferson was truly a states’ man. He advocated for states rights and opposed the idea of a powerful central government. Jefferson wanted whatever best for the Southern and Western farmers, and he wanted to avoid war when possible. He and his Democratic-Republican followers strongly supported the Constitution and its ability to give all citizens valuable rights; they also disliked the idea of a national bank, for it would take away money from state and local banks. However, as the 58 year old man experienced the government as president, his ideals altered somewhat. After entering the white house, Thomas Jefferson slightly changed his philosophy; he did stay true to his values, but he did not consult the Constitution before the Louisiana Purchase, and he agreed to the establishment of a national bank.

               Thomas Jefferson only moderately changed his views when he entered the political office. He kept most of the ideas he had before becoming president. For instance, he strongly opposed the excise tax on whiskey. This tariff taxed anyone who sold whiskey. Since many of the agrarian states in the West made a living on the sale of whiskey, they were very unhappy about the excise tax. In a letter to Madison, Jefferson wrote why the excise tax went against the Constitution. He stated that this fee on whiskey would eventually split the United States. When Thomas Jefferson became president, one of the first things he did was remove the excise tax. Not only did he keep the idea of removing the excise tax, Jefferson also kept the idea of staying out of war. Around 1801, Barbary pirates around North Africa (document D), led by the Pasha or Tripoli, demanded hundreds of thousands of dollars – or else the pirates would attack American ships in the Atlantic near the Mediterranean Sea. Jefferson went to war not because he wanted to, but because he had no choice. In this way, Jefferson stayed true to his ideals; he supported his agrarian followers even during his time in the central government and he rarely ever chose to enter war.

               Although his ideas did not drastically change after becoming president, Jefferson showed his impulsiveness and inattention to the Constitution when he made the Louisiana purchase. In the years before his presidency, Thomas Jefferson was a strong supporter of the Constitution of the United States. In The Kentucky Resolutions Jefferson explained that the states of America were not united through a central government, but through the Constitution. When Jefferson purchased the land from Napoleon, he did not take a good look at the Constitution. Almost nowhere in the document does it say that the president can buy a large amount of land from a foreign country without consulting the Congress. In a letter to John Breckinridge, a United States senator and Attorney General, the third president tried to justify the reasons for his actions by stating that the Louisiana Purchase was for the good of the country. By going against the Constitution for such a significant event, Jefferson showed that his views had changed after becoming president.

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