Interpreting the Constitution (Strict vs. Loose): Jefferson and Hamilton

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When the Federalist party was organized in 1791, those people who favored a strong central government and a loose constitutional interpretation coagulated and followed the ideals of men such as Alexander Hamilton. The first opposition political party in the United States was the Republican party, which held power, nationally, between 1801 and 1825. Those who were in favor of states rights and a strict construction of the constitution fell under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson. These Jeffersonian republicans, also known as anti-federalists, believed in strict adherence to the writings of the constitution. They wanted state's rights and individual rights, which they believed could only be granted under strict construction of the constitution. Thomas Jefferson, the third president, and James Madison, his successor, were close friends and lifelong political associates. Long regarded as advocates for liberty, Jefferson and Madison believed in the principles of government and sought to restore the spirit of the revolution of 1776. These republicans spoke out against anti-monarchial attitudes and opposed the aristocratic and elitist attitudes of the federalists (Peterson, 1975). A weaker central government by the people was the goal of the republican party. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, were two presidents who believed in the theory of the republican party, but due to circumstances within the parties and the increasing conflicts between Britain and France abroad, they found it increasingly difficult to act in a manner which coincided with their republican beliefs and at times had to reconcile their actions. Jefferson's victory in the presidential election is notable because this was the first transfer of national authority from political group to another that was accomplished by peaceful and strictly constitutional means. He began his presidency with a plea for reconciliation and described his election as a recovery of the original intentions of the American


Bibliography: 1. Ellis, Joseph. J, American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Vintage Books, 1996. 2. Ellis, Joseph. J; Maier, Pauline, et al. Thomas Jefferson: Genius of Liberty. New York: Viking Studio, 2000. 3. Ketcham, Ralph. James Madison; a Biography. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1990. 4. Peterson, Merrill, D. The Portable Thomas Jefferson. New York: Penguin Books, 1975. 5. Rutland, Robert A.,ed. James Madison and the American Nation, 1751-1836: An Encyclopedia. New York: Random House, 1994

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