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DBQ Federalists and Democratic-Republicans

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DBQ Federalists and Democratic-Republicans

  • Course: AP US History
  • Professor: Fallon
  • School: Arlington High School
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Thesis: It would appear that the assertion that Democratic-Republicans were strict interpreters of the Constitution while Federalists were not are only somewhat accurate.

The Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval is of particular interest because Jefferson outright states “...I know also, that the laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind”. This is somewhat different from the traditional image of Jefferson interpreting the constitution as absolute under any circumstances. The fact that he himself writes that the constitution must be adapted to the times suggest that Jefferson, like the Democratic-Republican party as a whole, was not such an absolutist. Jefferson also states that “I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions...” which would seem to indicate that He also believed that a change to the constitution was a serious thing not to be taken lightly much like the historical image of the Democratic-Republicans. Jefferson believed that amendments would eventually become necessary to preserve the constitution as a credible document, however he also believed such changes should only be made when absolutely necessary. The fact that this idea about the constitution (that it was not perfect and would eventually need change) contradicts the historical image of strict and absolute interpretation of the constitution that Democratic-Republicans, and by extension Jefferson himself, are given.

-While Jefferson shows sympathy towards eventual change on issues such as slavery he did not follow through in the least as president. -Jefferson is sometimes portrayed as the first great president by historians. -Jefferson actually helped sign in the constitution with many of the men who would go on to be federalists. -Jefferson made many of his statements against slavery and absolute interpretation of the Constitution later in life which could suggest that much of these...