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By McKenzieWilder Apr 14, 2013 1103 Words
Essay Question Unit III
Originally starting as friends, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton quickly developed almost opposite views and expectations of the United States. The two feuded and sometimes compromised over every issue under the sun. The two men aspired for a common goal, a well-rounded America, but they went about this goal differently. The Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian movements possessed many similarities and differences in many areas, like interpretation of the Constitution, political philosophies, federal power versus state power, and long term social and economic outlook in the United States. The Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian movements also provided different interpretations of the Constitution. Jefferson believed that there should be a very literal interpretation of the document, but Hamilton believed it could be more loosely interpreted. Hamilton believed there were some powers the president had that were implied. Jefferson did not like this way of thinking. The creation of the national bank created much controversy involving the interpretation of the Constitution. The Constitution never explicitly stated that the federal government had the power to form the bank. However, Hamilton claimed that under the Elastic clause the government had the authority to create the bank. Jefferson says that there is nothing necessary about a national bank. Hamilton’s argument is that the federal government has the power to print and coin money, so they must have a national bank in order to maintain the economic stability of the United States. Though Jefferson does not believe in Hamilton’s loose interpretation, he does use it to his advantage after the Louisiana Purchase. When the Louisiana territory is made available to the United States at such a low price, Jefferson feels that he much purchase the land. However, Jefferson has overstepped his constitutional authority with the purchase. Therefore, he uses Hamilton’s “implied” powers and gets the Senate to quickly ratify the purchase of the Louisiana territory. Though the two harshly disagreed on what was and was not constitutional, occasionally ones ideals were beneficial to the other. The Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian movements both called for strikingly different political philosophies. Thomas Jefferson believed the nation would be successful with an agricultural economy. He also wanted more state power than federal power. He opposed a strong central government, and believed that the final decision in government should lie with the people. Thomas Jefferson was also a Francophile, he loved the French. He even encouraged active support of the French Revolution. Jefferson also believed that the government should be run by the common person, your everyday small town farmer. Alexander Hamilton on the other hand believed in a more industrial type economy. He also believed that more power should lie with the central government than with the states; he believed this would help industry grow and prosper in the United States. Hamilton also believed that the government should be run by only the rich and educated. He did not support the French Revolution. However, the men both believed in neutrality. Though it seemed Thomas Jefferson was not going to support the neutrality of the country after he resigned from Washington’s cabinet shortly after Washington’s decision to stay out of the French Revolution, when he was elected president he did in fact carry on Washington’s and Adams’ plan of neutrality. Hamilton on the other hand never directly supported the neutrality clause, but he never disagreed with the matter either. Although both men wanted America to prosper and thrive they believed that this national success was to be achieved in different manners. The followers of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson constantly feuded over the matter of state versus federal power. Jeffersonians believed there should be more power given to the state government, while Hamiltonians believed there should be more power in the central government. Alexander Hamilton expressed his point of view in The Federalist Papers. In said papers, Hamilton and several others made a point that strong federal government should not be fears, but instead was the best possible way to protect liberties and sovereignty of the United States. Thomas Jefferson, however, was convinced that the states needed more power than they were allowed. He convinced Kentucky and James Madison convinced Virginia to adopt plans of nullification. The plans stated that each state had entered into a “compact” with the central government upon the formation of a national government, therefore if a law is passed that breaks this compact the state has the power to nullify it. Thus, giving the states a little more power than was previously experienced. These plans were called the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions and they occurred after Republicans claimed that the Alien and Sedition Acts violated rights permitted in the 1st amendment. The level of power each jurisdiction possessed was a constant battle during the early years of a national government.

Jefferson and Hamilton also conceived the nation as different in a long-term economic and social sense. Thomas Jefferson wanted America to function mostly as an agrarian nation. He wanted agriculture to take hold instead of industries and factories. Jefferson wanted the American people to be self-sufficient. He did not want to depend on other countries or other peoples for a successful or prosperous economy. This idea of self-sufficiency partly influenced his purchase of the Louisiana Territory. Jefferson wanted to give America control of the Mississippi river, so they could use it for the trading and shipment of goods. Hamilton on the other hand focused mainly on an industrial economy. He focused so greatly on this that his second notion of his financial plan was to protect the countries infant businesses by implementing tariffs on imported goods. The central government was readily involved in the economy of the nation. They were responsible for placing taxes and tariffs on things. Alexander Hamilton’s financial plan called for high taxes on imported goods, but Congress did not make the tariffs high enough. Therefore, excise taxes had to be implemented. These taxes were placed mostly on whiskey, thus leading to the whiskey rebellion. However, when Thomas Jefferson came to office he repealed these excise taxes including the one on whiskey.

Differences and similarities between the Jeffersonian and philosophies, federal power versus state power, and long term social and economic outlook in the United States. Ideas Hamiltonian movements were evident in specific areas like, like interpretation of the Constitution, political of self-sufficiency, global trade involvement, centralized government, and neutrality constantly swirled about the early American nation’s leaders, and so did the decisions regarding these ideas. Thomas Jefferson’s and Alexander Hamilton’s “quarrels” over the matters benefited the country in the long run. America ended up a mostly balanced and prosperous country.

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