Loose and Strict Constructionist of the Constitution

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Unlike the Federalists, who were broad constructionists, Jeffersonian Republicans are usually characterized as strict constructionists. With respect to the federal Constitution, Jeffersonian Republicans are for the “strict” interpretation of the Constitution, while the Federalist Party and its supporters are in favor of the “loose” interpretation. However, during the period of 1801-1817, this characterization of Jefferson’s and Madison’s views began to differ. The Democrat Republicans almost switched their roles with the Federalists. In the early 1800s Thomas Jefferson envisioned American society as a nation of independent farmers living under the central government that exercised a minimum control over their rights and protected individual rights of the people granted by the Constitution. As stated in Document B, the government was to be ruled only by the Constitution. Jefferson wrote to Samuel Miller stating that not even God had any say of how to rule the government. He believed that religious exercise must rest with the states as much as it would be rested in any human. On August 13, 1800, Thomas Jefferson wrote to Gideon Granger, a future member of Jefferson’s cabinet, stating that United States can never be “harmonious and solid” if a portion of its citizens supports changes to the federal Constitution. Jefferson believed that the Constitution should remain unchanged and affairs that are not given the power to be regulated by the Congress should be regulated by individual states. He believed that majority of the legislature of the U.S. must preserve the federal Constitution and states must preserve the rights they are granted. The strict interpretation of the Constitution by the Jeffersonian Republicans changed shortly after the Louisiana Purchase by Thomas Jefferson from France. Since the Constitution said nothing about purchasing foreign land, Jefferson hesitated over the purchase; however the deal presented by Napoleon was simply too...
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