The Evolution of the Republican Party between 1800 and 1824 IRG
US History 202
March 30, 2013
Republicans favored states' rights and a strict interpretation of the Constitution. Between 1800 and 1824 Republican controlled the executive office and both houses of congress. While the three republican leaders of this time. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe shared political ideals, they were vastly different leaders. Each effected significant change in our nation.
The Evolution of the Republican Party between 1800 and 1824 In what Jefferson called the “Revolution of 1800”, the Republican Party took control of the presidency and both houses of Congress. Control of those institutions would last for nearly twenty-five years. Republicans favored states' rights and a strict interpretation of the Constitution. The opposition Federalist Party steadily declined during this period. The first three Republican presidents, Thomas Jefferson (1801–09), James Madison (1809–17), and James Monroe (1817–25) were all wealthy, aristocratic southern planters; all three shared the same liberal political philosophy (Brown, 2012). When Thomas Jefferson assumed the presidency in 1800 he “established close ties with both houses of congress”. Jefferson was careful to only nominate individuals who support his programs in an effort to limit in fighting. Jefferson practice political moderation, not removing all Federalist from the government post but instead hoping to convert some to the Republican Party (Divine et al., 2013). Top priority for Republicans was reducing the national debt. To advance this cause Jefferson urged congress to repeal all direct taxes. He also reduced the size of the U.S. Army by fifty percent. Jefferson along with Madison as secretary of state, also helped to double the size of the nation with the Louisiana Purchase and procured funding for the Louis and Clark expedition whose purpose was the exploration of the far west. The Louisiana purchased showed that republican ideals were not set in stone. A transitional government of all appointed officials was put in place in Louisiana and taxes were imposed on Louisiana’s citizens without their consent. This did not sit well with all republicans (Divine et al., 2013). The Republican Party looked at Native Americans as impediments to progress and wanted to move them to a “reservation beyond the Mississippi river” and transform them into yeoman farmers. Jefferson once stated “the same world will scarcely do for them and us (Divine et al., 2013 p. 180).” James Madison's political model closely reflected that of Jefferson’s until the experience of a weak national government in dealing with foreign policies between Britain and France. The resulting War of 1812 led Madison to appreciate the need for a stronger central government. After the War of 1812, James Madison reversed many of Jefferson’s policies. By 1815, Madison supported the creation of the second National Bank, a strong military, and a high tariff to protect the new factories opened during the war (Divine et al., 2013). What once was a primarily agricultural based society during Jefferson’s presidency was slowly changing to a more industrial one, preceding a displacement of the agrarian ideal. “Once the Federalist Party had disappeared, having been discredited by its opposition to the War of 1812, America became for a time essentially a one-party system. James Monroe ran unopposed for president in 1820 (Brown, 2012 p 183)”. After the War of 1812 Monroe enabled the "Era of Good Feelings" by ignoring old party lines and making impartial appointments to lower posts, which helped reduced political tensions. The Monroe Doctrine was enacted on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression, requiring U.S. intervention (Brown, 2012). While Jefferson Madison and Monroe accomplished great things for their party and our nation the one thing they failed to do was abolish slavery. They continue to promote the ideals of independent citizens, no ruling class, aristocracy or nobility and an egalitarian society. They failed to abolish slavery, explain how slavery could have a place in an “open egalitarian society” and give women equal rights (Divine et al., 2013). So, how egalitarian could their society really be?
Divine, R. A., Breen, T. H., Hal Williams, R., Gross, A. J., and Brads. H. W., (2013). America Past and Present, Volume 1 to 1877. 10th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Brown, S. G., (2012). The First Republicans: Political Philosophy and Public Policy in the Party of Jefferson and Madison. Whitefish, MT: Liberty Licensing LLC