The Jeffersonian Republicans and Federalists
By 1817 the great American experiment was in full swing. America was developing into an effective democratic nation. However as the democracy continued to grow, two opposing political parties developed, the Jeffersonian Republicans and the Federalists. The Jeffersonian Republicans believed in strong state governments, a weak central government, and a strict interpretation of the Constitution. The Federalists saw it differently. They opted for a powerful central government with weaker state governments, and a loose interpretation of the Constitution. The seemingly solid divide between Federalist and Republican would begin to blur during the presidencies of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. For, neither Republican president was able lead the nation with purely republican ideals. In 1800 Jefferson entered office with the intention to move away from the Federalist policies of Washington and Adams and to put the nation onto a path that he thought would be best. He wished to minimize the power of the central government by strengthening the state governments. “Our country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government…” (Document A). Jefferson and the Republican Party envisioned a government that was going to work for the people, a government with the people’s interests at heart. They believed that having stronger state governments would accomplish this. The leaders of a state were closer to the people they were governing; therefore they should know what the public needed. Document B refers to Jefferson’s belief in the strict interpretation of the Constitution, especially when it is about the freedom of religion. “Certainly no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general [federal] government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority…” It is clear that Jefferson believes that the...
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