Jefferson: A Principled President

By: Julie Schrey and Jared Pleibel

Embargo Act

One way Jefferson was principled during his presidency was his actions in the Embargo Act. The Embargo Act states that the United States has an inability to export goods. This act was enacted due to the war between Britain and France and how America’s relations with these countries were quickly weakening. He was principled by enacting this act because since he believed in a more agriculturally based economy and favored a more industry based economy.


Jefferson was very much against special privileges and believed in lowering voting requirements in favor of the common man. The Alien and Sedition Acts stated that you had to be a citizen of the United States for a minimum of 14 years. You had to be a United States citizen to have to ability to vote so this infringed upon many Americans' voting rights. Jefferson realized this issue and passed the Naturalization Act which reduced the unreasonable requirement of 14 years to the original requirement of 5 years. This proves that Jefferson was principled because he stayed true to his prior beliefs of lowering and protecting the Americans' voting rights and abilities.

Excise Tax

Jefferson was against maintaining internal taxes and was in favor of an agriculturally strong government as well. To follow through with ridding taxes from our country, he persuaded Congress to repeal the Excise Tax. The Excise Tax taxed whiskey which meant that the farmers were getting taxed the most. In turn, repealing this tax helped the farmers because they used leftover grain and corn to make whiskey which was taxed as well as the whiskey. So repealing this tax gave them a tax break. By doing this, Jefferson was true to his beliefs of helping out the farmers.

"Impeachment" of Samuel Chase

Jefferson strongly believed in strong state governments with a weaker central government opposed to a strong central government. The case Marbury vs. Madison led to the concept of Judicial Review. Judicial Review would allow the Supreme Court to gain more power and have the final decision as to whether or not a court case was unconstitutional or not. Jefferson attempted to have Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase impeached from his position. This proves that Jefferson is principled because even though he tried impeaching Chase, it was to restrict the amount of power the Supreme Court had which would affect the amount of power the central government had.

Barbary Wars

Another way Jefferson was principled during his presidency was his actions in the Barbary Wars. The First Barbary War was between the United States and the four Barbary States of North Africa: Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. The war started because they were very harmful to other foreign merchant ships, they would destroy and capture the sailors on the boat. So they made each person that came in, pay a certain fee. The United States were attacked by the Barbary States after their freedom. They then agreed to pay 18,000 dollars for a promise that Tripoli wouldn’t destroy American ships. When the price began to increase, the United States refused to pay, and then Tripoli declared war on the states. He was principled by refusing to pay the raising price because he didn’t believe in foreign alliances with other countries.