Devin Timms AP US History Jefferson/Madison DBQ During the presidencies of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the two political parties were still somewhat true to their founding ideas, but not completely. The different parties had started to let go of their strong stances and instead begin to take a more, middle of the road viewpoint. The Jeffersonians began to sway from their strict constructionism partly, as they passed things like the 1st Bank of the United States, which went against almost everything the Jeffersonians were for and allowed the government to read-into the constitution.
As the Jeffersonians started letting go of their ideals, so did the Federalists. As Thomas Jefferson moved throughout his presidency, he started letting go of his strict constructionism view. Before he became president, Jefferson still upheld the strict constructionist view that had become the characteristic of the Jeffersonian party. In his letter to Gideon Granger, he talks about how the government will never be harmonious as long as the Federalists continue to attempt to make changes to the Constitution(Doc A).
This letter and the one Jefferson wrote to Samuel Miller in 1808 still show more of a classic Jeffersonian view as they talk about giving less power to the central government and enforce a strict constructionist standpoint(Doc B). However, other actions and letters indicate Jefferson’s change. For example, the 1st Bank of the United States was passed under Jefferson, and that is clearly a Federalist item. Also, in Jefferson’s letter to Samuel Kercheval, he talks about how even though he may not like it, the world is changing and so you must change with it to keep up(Doc G).
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However, not all Jeffersonians were following his lead. In a speech to the House of Representatives, John Randolph shows a much more strict constructionist view as he denounces the “true republican principles of Jefferson’s administration”(Doc F). The Jeffersonian party had stayed true to their characterization for the most part, but Jefferson had started them down the path to complete change by showing less and less support of the strict constructionist view.
The Federalists had also begun changing, but not as much as the Jeffersonians. During a speech to the House of Representatives in Madison’s presidency, Daniel Webster, a Federalist, said how the government should not have the right to draft people for the army. He bases this argument off of the fact that it does not specifically state it in the Constitution(Doc D). Webster is showing an absolutely strict constructionist viewpoint in saying this. Even Madison had become less of a broad constructionist.
In his message to Congress in 1817, he explains that even though it would be nice to have all the internal improvements they want, he will not pass it because of the fact that it is not specifically in the constitution as one of the government’s powers(Doc H). As both political parties grow and change, so too do their viewpoints they assumed could stay the same. However, during the time period of 1801-1817, both parties began letting go of their original stances and started sharing their ideas.
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