CHAPTER 8 Republican Ascendancy: The Jeffersonian Vision
There were always contradictions within the Republican belief in equality; the most notable was the exclusion of African Americans. Once in power, Republicans faced problems that forced them to compromise further the purity of their ideals.
I. REGIONAL IDENTITIES IN A NEW REPUBLIC
This section offers an overview of the most important developments that occurred during the period from 1800 to about 1820: prosperity, rapid population growth, especially in the West, and the emergence of sectionalism.
A. Westward the Course of Empire
The growth in the West typified the incredible population growth of the whole nation. Areas that had been populated by Indians and fur traders became the states of Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio. The mix of people in the West led to the creation of a new regional culture of a rootless, optimistic folk.
B. Native American Resistance
The Indians stood in the way of westward movement and suffered the consequences. Defrauded and terrorized, some Indians resisted. Tecumseh, a Shawnee chief, took up the tomahawk, but was decisively defeated. So, too, were the Creeks. For Thomas Jefferson, and many others, Indian wars were wars of extermination; there could be no coexistence between whites and Indians.
C. Commercial Life in the Cities
Agriculture and trade, carried on in traditional ways, remained the foundation of the economy. American shipping enjoyed a spurt of prosperity between 1793 and 1805, but suffered when England and France restricted America's rights as a neutral nation. Cities were closely associated with international trade, but still played a marginal role in the life of the rest of the nation. Industrialization and mechanization were just beginning to frighten skilled craftsmen.
II. JEFFERSON AS PRESIDENT
Thomas Jefferson personified the contradictions in Republicanism: he despised ceremonies and formality and dedicated himself to intellectual pursuits; at the same time, he was a politician to the core. He realized that his success as a president depended on close cooperation with Congress. A. Jeffersonian Reforms
Jefferson gave top priority to cutting the federal debt and federal taxes. He trimmed federal expenses, mainly by slashing military spending. Reduction of the army had the further benefit of removing a threat to Republican government.
Though badgered by loyal Republicans for political appointments, Jefferson retained only those bureaucrats he thought competent, no matter what their party. His refusal to purge Federalists hastened the demise of the Federalist party. Many of its members retired from public life, and the more ambitious of them, like John Quincy Adams, became Republicans.
B. The Louisiana Purchase
Americans had assumed that they would some day buy or take New Orleans from Spain, which did not have the military strength to resist the United States. In 1801, however, France, which could block America's westward expansion or close New Orleans, bought Louisiana from Spain.
Jefferson sent a mission to France to buy New Orleans. Napoleon, for reasons of his own, offered to sell all of Louisiana, an area larger than the United States at that time, for only $15 million.
C. The Lewis and Clark Expedition
Even before purchasing Louisiana, Jefferson sent an exploring party into the area (the Lewis and Clark Expedition). Their report on its economic prospects reaffirmed Jefferson's desire that it belong to the United States. When he received the French offer, he worried that Congress might not have the constitutional right to make the purchase, but Jefferson urged Congress to complete the deal anyway, fearing that Napoleon might change his mind. He departed even further from Republican principles when he established a government for the new territory. Because most of the inhabitants were French and Spanish, Jefferson did not entrust them with self-rule, and the area...
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