During the presidencies of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the characterization of Jeffersonian Republicans as strict constructionists and Federalists as loose constructionists was generally true for the most part. While both Presidents were Democratic-Republicans and often adopted a strict constructionist view, there were several exceptions in which they or other Republicans adopted a loose constructionist view. The same goes for the Federalists, who had several examples of them adopting a strict constructionist view.
During the time of the Jefferson and Madison presidencies, the Democratic-Republicans were often considered to be strict constructionists. This is seen in multiple occasions in which the Presidents (both of which were Republicans) or other members of the party took actions from a strict constructionist stand-point. While in office, Jefferson reduced the size of the Navy and put limitations on the military, which was a strict constructionist view at the time. The Constitution only gave the Federal government the power to maintain a military, and Jefferson felt that the country could be maintained with a smaller force, thus why he limited it. Jefferson also did not run for a third term, following the two-term limit policy that Washington had ‘created.’ By respecting this element of the “un-written” Constitution, Jefferson was following a strict constructionist viewpoint. Also, Jefferson expressed a strict constructionist view in several personal letters. In one to Gideon Granger in 1800, he stated his own and the party’s intentions to get “a majority in the legislature of the United States, attached to the preservation of the federal Constitution,” and even stated in the letter that the Federalists loose constructionist views would be detrimental to the country (Document A). In another letter to Samuel Miller, a Presbyterian minister, in early 1808, he also clearly showed his strict constructionist views by stating that “certainly no power to...
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