Thomas Jefferson: Pragmatist
By: Kruti Tailor & Ryan Payton
Definition Of Pragmatist
Jefferson was a pragmatist because whenever there is a problem he deals the situation for what would be good for the people and not because his beliefs. Even though he has a set a beliefs and follows them, he knows when it's the appropriate time to not follow his set of ideas.
Views on Political Problems
Jefferson's Views of the Consitution
Jefferson supported a “strict construction or interpretation” of the Constitution; and viewed it as the supreme law of the U.S. Thomas Jefferson thought anything that was not given to the Federal government or prohibited from the states in the Constitution, are then reserved to the states and the people, rather than the Federal government. He implied the Constitution should be strictly abided, and ultimately disapproved of the Elastic or “Necessary and Proper” Clause. Jefferson thought what the Constitution did not permit it forbade (Federal gov’t).
Jefferson's Views of the Government
Jefferson's Views on the Role of people with Federal Government
Thomas Jefferson placed deep trust in the common people and distrusted special privileges, which benefited the wealthy and educated (aristocracy). That is why he wanted to have strong state governments rather than a strong centralized government (Federal gov’t), because it allowed the people to be more integrated into the government and society. He thought highly of farmers, artisans, and others, that comprised from the south, and he thought the people can be trusted with the government as long as they are properly informed. Jefferson also wanted the common people to be a part of decision-making.
Jefferson's Views on Individual Rights
Jefferson's Presidency Events
The Jeffersonian Restraint:
Thomas Jefferson hated Hamilton from the bottom of his heart, but kept some of his financial plan. Jefferson kept the federalist programs that funded the national debt. Jefferson also didn’t launch an attack on the bank of the United States, and didn’t repeal the Federalist tariff. Keeping these aspects in our economy helped America, even though Jefferson hated Hamilton and his ideas. Jefferson kept the financial because he wanted the economy to stay strong, and wasn’t selfish and hypocritical in his choice.
The Louisiana Godsend
Jefferson saw Napoleon’s control of the Port of New Orleans as a more serious threat than the Spanish control of the area. Napoleon was very intelligent in his field, and foreshadowed a bad future, which seemed to pertain to violence and darkness. Jefferson was afraid America would have to seek allies, which would break the anti-alliance policy.
Jefferson’s actions toward the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon were pragmatic. Initially, He did not approve of the terms of negotiation pronounced by Monroe and Livingston, simply because it meant for treaties to be signed, as well as $5 million more than what he wanted for Louisiana; and he got much land to the west of Louisiana in addition, rather than to the east which he expected. However, Jefferson soon realized the situation and was willing to submit these terms of negotiation, since he was afraid of Napoleon’s withdrawal, which could only harm the U.S. even more.
The Dead Clutch of the Judiciary: The Constitution
During the Death Clutch of the Judiciary Jefferson was a pragmatist. He went against his belief of having a strict interpretation of the constitution for the good of the country, and the reason for doing that was because Jefferson’s ill-advised attempt at “judge breaking’’ was a reassuring victory for the independence of the judiciary and for the separation of powers among the three branches of the federal government. The outcome of doing this in Jefferson’s opinion was for something good. One of Jefferson's strong moral beliefs was to use a “strict construction or interpretation” of the Constitution and he did not want a strong centralized government (limited gov’t). Yet, he did not listen himself when he was urging the impeachment of Samuel Chase, since the Constitution specifies that indictments by the House are based on “high crimes, and misdemeanors”, and the judge happened to not be guilty of any “high crimes”.
Jefferson Fought Against Slavery
Jefferson's ideas of abolishing slavery proves that he was a pragmatic leader. In this situation, Jefferson went against the rules that stated slavery was necessary for the good of the country. Jefferson couldn't abolish slavery, but showed he cared and wasn't afraid to speak his opinion.