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Chapter 11 - The Triumphs and Travails of the Jeffersonian Republic 1800-1812


Federalist and republican Mudslingers

  • Hamilton, a victim of arrogance, privately printed a pamphlet that attacked the credibility of President Adams. The Jeffersonians soon got a hold of this and published it to the masses.
  • The most damaging blow to the Federalists was the refusal of Adams to give them a rousing fight with France. Their feverish war preparations had swelled the public debt and had required disagreeable new taxes, including a stamp tax. The war scare died out. The military preparations now seemed not only unnecessary but extravagant. the seamen for the new navy were called "john Adam's jackasses :0. And John Adams himself was known as "the Father of the American Navy"
  • The Federalists concentrated their fire on Jefferson himself, who became the victim of one of America's earliest "whispering campaigns". He was accused of robbing a widow and her children of a trust fund and of having fathered numerous mulatto children by his own slave women.
  • As a liberal in religion, Jefferson had earlier incurred the wrath of the orthodox clergy, largely through his successful struggle to separate church and state in his native Virginia.
  • Although Jefferson did believe in God, preachers throughout New England, stronghold of Federalism and congregationalism thundered against his alleged atheism. Old ladies of Federalist families, fearing Jefferson's election, even buried their Bibles or hung them in wells.

The Jeffersonian "Revolution of 1800"

  • Jefferson won by a majority of 73 electoral votes to 65. In defeat, the colorless and presumably unpopular Adams polled more electoral strength than he had gained four years earlier- except for New York.
  • The Empire state fell into the Jeffersonian basket, and with it the election, largely because Aaron Burr, a master wire-puller, turned New York to Jefferson by the narrowest of margins. The Virginian polled the bulk of his strength in the South and West, particularly in those states where universal white manhood suffrage had been adopted.
  • John Adams suffered the fate of being the last Federalist President. The Federalist party soon dissapeared in the days of Andrew Jackson.
  • Although a change of 250 votes would have deemed Adams victorious, Jefferson claimed it to be another Revolution and a return to the original spirit of the Revolution.

Responsibility Breeds Moderation

  • Jefferson was inaugurated president on July 4, 1801 in the swampy village of Washington
  • Jefferson's inaugural address, beautifully phrased, was a classic statement of democratic principles. "The will of the majority is in all cases to prevail", Jefferson declared. But, he added, "that will to be rightful must be reasonable; the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression". Seeking to allaay Federalist fears Jefferson ingratiatingly intoned, "we are all Republicans, we are all Federalists"
  • Jefferson practiced Pell-Mell, seating without regard to rank or class at official dinners.
  • Jefferson was forced to reverse many of the political principles he had so vigorously championed. Jefferson was scholarly private and was harrassed by citizens

Jeffersonian Restraint

  • Jefferson was determined to undo the Federalist abuses begotten by the anti-French hysteria. The hated Alien Sedition Acts had already expired. The incoming president speedily pardoned the "martyrs" who were serving sentences under the Sedition Act, and the government remitted many fines.
  • Shortly after Congress, the Jeffersonians enacted the new naturalization law of 1802. This act reduced teh unreasonable requirement of fourteen years of residence to the previous and more reasonable requirement of five years.
  • Jefferson actually kicked away only one substantial prop of the Hamiltonian system. He hated the excise tax, which bred bureaucrats and bore heavily on his farmer following, and he early persuaded Congress to repeal it. His to principle thus cost the federal government about a million dollars a year in urgently needed revenue.

Jefferson, A Reluctant Warrior

  • One of Jefferson's first actions as president was to reduce the military establishment to a mere police force of twenty five hundred officers and men.
  • the united States would set an example for the world, forswearing military force and winning friends through "peaceful coercion". Also, the Republicans distrusted large standing armies as standing invitations to dictatorship.
  • Pirates of the North African Barbary States had long made a national industry of blackmailing and plundering merchant ships that ventured into the Mediterranean. Preceding Federalist administrations, in fact, had been forced to buy protection. At the time of the French crisis of 1798, when Americans were shouting, "Millions for the defense but not one cent for tribute".
  • The pasha of Tripoli, dissatisfied with his share of protection money, informally declared war on the United States by cutting down the flagstaff of the American consulate.
  • After four years of intermittent fighting, marked by spine-tingling exploits, Jefferson succeeded in extorting a treaty of peace from Tripoli in 1805. It was secured at the bargain price of only $60,000-a sum representing ransom payments for captured Americans.

The Louisiana Godsend

  • 1800, A treaty between the King of France and Napoleon, granted Napoleon the territory of the trans- Mississippi region of Louisiana, which included the area of New Orleans.
  • Jefferson knew that when the time was ripe, American could dislodge Spain from the territory, but he also knew that if France moved into the area, a huge amount of bloodshed would be required to dislodge France. And even then he knew he would need the help of their former enemy Britain to do it.
  • Jefferson sent Robert Livingston to haggle with the French for the purchase of the Lousiana Territory for a maximum of 10 million dollars.
  • France unexpectedly was willing to sell the territory for 15 million.
  • France wanted to sell it because Napoleon wanted to focus on the struggles closer to home, and with Britain naval dominance, doubted that it would be of any use to him. Plus the previous use to him was to provide the sugar rich west Indies with food, but since disease had pushed his forces from the islands it was now useless to him.
  • Jefferson accepted the land although the right was not granted in the Constitution because of the impatience of the French. 828,000 square miles of land were gain for about 3 cents an acre.

Louisiana in the Long View


  • Jefferson sent out his personal secretary, Meriwether Lewis, and a young army officer, William Clark to explore the Northern region the the Louisiana Territory with the aid of a Sushoni woman named Sacajawea.
  • Lewis and Clarks two and a half year trip brought back stories of abundance, promises for the future, and of the lands out West.
  • Lewis brought back his near death experiences along with information of the Indian tribes out west, and of the grazing buffalo on the never ending plains.
  • Pioneers and missionaries would wind their way down the new trails in the decades to come and to plant American claims on the Oregon region.

The Aaron Burr Conspiracies

  • The ability of the government to control this vast new expanse of land was doubted by many.
  • Aaron Burr, Jefferson's first term vice-president (He was kicked out the second term), joined a group of Federalists to plot the secession of New England and New York. Luckily, Alexander Hamilton foiled the conspiracy and saved the republic!!!!
  • More was to come though. Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel, and concerned of his honor Hamilton accepted the duel. Unwilling to fire, Hamilton was killed by Burr's first shot.
  • Burr's political career died as did Hamilton. He turned his attention to a greater prize.
  • He allied with General James Wilkinson, the military governor of the Louisiana Territory in a plan to seperated the western U.S. from the Eastern U.S.
  • Although much of their planning is shrouded and a mystery, it is know that just as they were to meet and go on with their plan, Wilikinson learned that Jefferson had found out about the plan and betrayed Burr before fleeing to New Orleans.
  • Burr, being tried for treason, fled to Europe where he unsucessfully tried to convince Napoleon to ally with Britian to conquer the U.S.

America: A Nutcracked Neutral

  • Jefferson was reelected in 1804; 162:14 electoral votes
  • The London government, beginning in 1808 issued a series of Orders in Council, which closed the European ports under French control to foreign shipping, including American, unless the vessels first stopped at a British port.
  • Impressment of American seamen was still a major threat from not only Britain

The Hated Embargo

  • America's navy and army were too weak to fight Britain and France, due to Jefferson's anti-navalism and his love of peace.
  • The warring nations in Europe depended heavily on America's trade, and so Jefferson drew up the Embargo act of 1807, which Congress hastily passed. This act forbade the export of all goods from the United States, whether in American or in foreign ships.
  • An enormous illicit trade began in 1808, where bands of armed Americans on loaded rafts overawed or overpowered fedaeral agents.
  • Congress repelled the Embargo on March1, 1809, and provided the Non-Intercourse Acts as a replacement. These acts formally reopened trade with every nation but Britain and France.
  • During the months the Embargo act was in place, New Englands floundering economy led to the reopening of of old factories and the creation of new ones.

Madison's Gamble

  • Madison took the presidential oath on March 4, 1809.
  • The Non-Intercourse Acts expired in 1810, but Congress made Macon's Bill No. 2, which reopened American's trade with the entire world. If either Britain or France repealed its commercial restrictions, America woulkd restore its embargo against the non-repealing nation.
  • In August 1810, word came from Napoleon's foreign minister that French decrees might be repealed if Britain also lifted its Orders in Council. but Napoleon's true purpose was to maneuver the United States into resuming its embargo against the British, thus creating a partial blockade against his enemy that he would not have to raise a finger to enforce.
  • Madison knew better than to trust Napoleon, but he gambled that the threat of seeing the United States trade exclusively with France would lead the British to repeal their restrictions.
  • The terms of Macon's Bill gave the British three months to live up to their implied promise by revoking the Orders in Council and reopening the Atlantic to neutral trade. Britain didn't, as they had a firm contol of the seas and London saw little need to bargain. American could either trade exclusively with Briatin, or no one at all.
  • Madison reestablished the embargo with Britain alone, which he knew meant the end of American neutrality.

Tecumseh and the Prophet

  • War Hawks pushed for America's involvement in the war and the extermination of the renewed Indian threat to the pioneer settlers who were streaming into trans-Allegheny wilderness.
  • Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa, the Prophet, formed a confederacy of all the tribes east of the Mississippi, inspiring a vibrant movement of Indian unity and cultural renewal.
  • In the fall of 1811, William Henry Harrison gathered an army and advanced to Tecumseh's headquarters. Tecumsehs was recruiting supporters in the South, but the Prophet attacked Harrison's force with a small band of Shawnees, who were routed and their settlement was burned.
  • This battle discredited the Prophet, and drove Tecumseh into an alliance with Britain. When America's war with Britain came, he fought with the British till he died in 1813 at the Battle of Thames.

Mr. Madison's War

  • By the spring of 1812, Madison believed war with Britain to be inevitable. He turned to war to restore confidence in the republican experiment.
  • Madison and the Republicans believed that only a vigorous assertion of American rights could demonstrate the viability of American nationhood, and of democracy as a form of government.
  • Madison asked Congress to declare war on June 1, 1812. Congress obliged him two weeks later.
  • Support for the war came from the South and West, but also from Republicans in Pennsylvania and Virginia.
  • The bitterness of New England Federalists against "Mr. Madison's War" led them to treason or near-treason.
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