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Topic: American History
Number of pages / Number of words: 3 / 576
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Critically, Thomas Jefferson went against his views of having "unnecessarily" large military that would intimidate other countries. When President John Adams proposed to expand America's armed forces and create a navy, Jefferson campaigned against such a move both for reasons of expense and to avoid the precedent of a standing army. Yet in one of his first decisions as President, Jefferson dispatched American armed forces around the globe to confront the Barbary States of North Africa (Doc D). These pirates had long made a national industry of blackmailing and plundering merchant ships that ventured into the Mediterranean. Jefferson's decision to destroy these people was a blatant disregard for his previous view on this issue. Also, Jefferson did not "inform Congress until the warships had sailed far enough to be effectively beyond recall." This additionally goes against his supposed love for the constitution because of this technically illegal action. In American politics, it is illegal for the executive branch to declare war on a foreign entity, because it takes an act of congress to do so. Clearly, Jefferson had a thorough knowledge of this and yet still went forward and declared war illegally.

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Also, because our military was weak, Jefferson instead of building up the military still went against his previous views by using economic might (Doc A). With the nation militarily feeble, Jefferson decided to force respect for the nation's rights by an economic boycott in 1807. Stubbornly, even though this boycott turned out to be inefficient and harmful, Jefferson refused to lift the embargo for two years. Finally, Jefferson caved into congressional pressure and halted the paralyzing economic policy. Another example of Jefferson changing his point of view on economic policy is his view on free trade, which fits his libertarian use of thought. Jefferson used this vocal point in his election against John Adams, yet once in power, he failed to install a free trading system with overseas nations. Jefferson realized that it was impossible to imply such a thing if the other nations would go along with it.

Most importantly, Thomas Jefferson deeply contradicted his views on land expansion and violated his policy on following the constitution completely. A prime example of this was the Louisiana Purchase, in which Napoleon offered Jefferson the opportunity to purchase all of France's American territory for only $15 million, doubling the physical size of the nation. The French needed the money to fight a war with the British, and Jefferson wanted the mouth of the Mississippi River for America. So, Jefferson "gave the Constitution a close reading" to seek authorization for such a move. Failing to find any, he decided to unconstitutionally take the offer anyway (Doc C). This clearly violated his previous views on such an issue. However, it is obvious that Jefferson made the right decision in the matter, and the American people should be very grateful for Jefferson's "stretching" of the constitution.

Conclusively, although Jefferson had many other contradictions in the area of religion and race, these three were glaringly bending, nearly breaking the constitution which he had earlier claimed he "followed to the letter." The three large controversies in the Jefferson Administration was the war with the Barbary pirates, the 1807 economic embargo, and the Louisiana Purchase. Overall, even though Jefferson contradicted himself in many ways, I feel as if he just realized a different way to go about certain things, and that he always had the nation's best interests in his mind.

General points of the essay

Thomas Jefferson and Philosophical Consistency A Brief Look at Thomas Jefferson Biography of Thomas Jefferson Interpreting the constitution (strict vs. loose); Jefferson and Hamilt Jefferson DBQ Life of Thomas Jefferson thomas jefferson Thomas Jefferson: Contributions to Literature and Other Fields An Exploration of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson Through the Eyes of Gordon S. Wood Did Thomas Jefferson Abandon His Ideals By Making The Louisiana Purchase? Andrew Hamilton vs Thomas Jefferson George Washington And Thomas Jefferson Jefferson Thomas Jefferson And His Views On Government Thomas Jefferson: The Man, The Myth, And The Morality

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