Dbq #3 Thomas Jefferson and Philosophical Consistency

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In the years prior to Thomas Jefferson's presidency, he was a very vocal critic of a centralized federal government and he was an avid follower of the constitution, yet once he became Commander in Chief he changed his tune towards these issues. The three largest contradictions that stand out amongst his actions were his war with the Barbary pirates, using restrictive economic policies to achieve his goals, and his acquiring of Louisiana. Although these contradictions were for the good of the country, he still went against the convictions that got him elected.

Critically, Thomas Jefferson went against his views of having "unnecessarily" large military that would intimidate other countries. When President John Adams proposed to expand America's armed forces and create a navy, Jefferson campaigned against such a move both for reasons of expense and to avoid the precedent of a standing army. Yet in one of his first decisions as President, Jefferson dispatched American armed forces around the globe to confront the Barbary States of North Africa (Doc D). These pirates had long made a national industry of blackmailing and plundering merchant ships that ventured into the Mediterranean. Jefferson's decision to destroy these people was a blatant disregard for his previous view on this issue. Also, Jefferson did not "inform Congress until the warships had sailed far enough to be effectively beyond recall." This additionally goes against his supposed love for the constitution because of this technically illegal action. In American politics, it is illegal for the executive branch to declare war on a foreign entity, because it takes an act of congress to do so. Clearly, Jefferson had thorough knowledge of this and yet still went forward and declared war illegally.

Also, because our military was weak, Jefferson instead of building up the military still went against his previous views by using economic might (Doc A). With the nation militarily feeble, Jefferson...
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