Jeffersonian Republicans are usually characterized as strict constructionists who were opposed to the broad constructionism of the Federalists. Assess the validity.

Essay by Czerny1791High School, 11th gradeA+, December 2003

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Between 1801 and 1817, the two parties the Jeffersonian Republicans and Federalists seemed to have changed their views on the issue of whether the constitution should be loosely interpreted, or strictly interpreted. The Democratic-Republicans originally prided themselves in having strict constructionist beliefs, but however, as time went on, they seemed to have adopted a broader outlook. The Federalists, who favored a looser perspective on the interpretation of the construction, adopted a more strict interpretation. Whenever the members of these parties had to change their perspective in order to suit their needs, they seemed to have no qualms in doing so.

Before Jefferson's own presidency, he was a large advocator of strict constitutionalism. In 1800, he wrote a letter to Gideon Granger, telling him that he believed in a strict interpretation of the Constitution. He is a large advocator of state rights, and he states that he is not in favor of a strong national government.

In the end of this letter, Jefferson states that "the true theory of the constitution is surely the wisest and best". (Document A)

In 1808, Jefferson follows the same view. In his letter to Samuel Miller, he strictly interprets the constitution as being the ultimate authority, and leaving the states the power that the government can not harness, such as anything to do with religious affairs. Before Jefferson's presidency and real call to power, Jefferson's favor of strict constitutionalism remained. (Document B)

But, that all changed once Jefferson was president. His advocacy of a strict interpretation of the Constitution was out of the picture. In his first term of his presidency, he committed two acts which were not appropriate for a man with a strict perspective of the Constitution. These two acts were sending armed forces in order to battle the Barbary Pirates, to end...