Thomas Jefferson

A Pragmatic Leader

Jefferson Restraint

Jefferson did a few things to undo some of the harm caused by the Alien and Sedition Acts. He enacted the new Naturalization law of 1802, he brought the citizen years of fourteen down to five, and he had many fines remitted by the government. He also convinced the congress to repeal the excise tax, but it cost the government a lot of money. Luckily a man by the name of Albert Gallatin helped Jefferson find a way to reduce the country's debt. Jefferson was a pragmatic leader in this situation because he followed his principles of basing the economy on agriculture by repealing excise taxes on farmers, but he also kept in mind Hamilton's financial plan.


The Louisiana Purchase

When Napoleon took control of the port of New Orleans, Jefferson saw it as a threat to the United States. As an alternative to going to war and having to make allies Jefferson sent Monroe to Paris and instructed him to negotiate to buy New Orleans and as much land to its East as they could for less than ten million dollars. After the negotiation Livingston offered Monroe all of Louisiana plus land to the west of it for about fifteen million dollars. All of that land would nearly the size of the United States, but it was over the budget. This created a crisis of conscience for Jefferson because the constitution did not give permission for the purchasing of foreign territory, but for such a good bargain he didn't want to turn the offer down. Jefferson was pragmatic because he dealt with the problem and before making a decision he thought about what was better for the country without violating too many principles.


Marbury vs. Madison

Marbury was appointed to be one of the new federal judges, but James Madison refused him the job. Marbury was unhappy and wanted to sue. The case went to court and the precedent that was set was the precedent of judicial review. That stated that the supreme court can decide which laws are unconstitutional. Jefferson disagreed with the judge's decision and went to seek revenge by impeaching Samuel Chase, but he failed to do so because Chase's only crime was his inability to control his temper and that was not enough to have him impeached. While Jefferson was not happy about the outcome of the whole event the Federalist powers were weakened. This shows that Jefferson was a Pragmatic leader because Jefferson was going against his principles when trying to help Marbury, which would help the federalists, but he was doing what he believed was right and was fighting for the right not the wrong.


The Embargo

The war between Britain and France was difficult for the United States for many reasons. To start, Britain and France were not respecting the United States neutral rights. Also, Napoleon closed British shipping ports to all foreign trade, including America, and caused American ships to get caught in the crossfire between Britain and France. Last, the British were practicing impressment which involved them seizing sailors, six thousand of them were American citizens, this led to the attack on the Chesapeake. At the attack on the Chesapeake the British fired three broadsides, close range, at the Untied States killing three Americans and wounding eighteen. These events all were causes of the enforcement of the Embargo Act, the act that was imposed in response to violations of the United States neutrality by France and Britain. However the act led to some negative affects. It hurt the American economy more that the French or British economies, led to widespread smuggling, agricultural prices fell sharply, and sailors and shippers working in the harbor found themselves jobless. Also, Jefferson went against all his principals trying to enforce the embargo. Jefferson was a pragmatic leader because he was doing what he thought was in the best interest for the country even though he to against all, or most of at least, his principles.


Jefferson and Military

Jefferson was against having a big and strong military so as president he was trying to reduce the military. This was difficult though because Pirates of the North African Barbary States were black mailing and plundering any merchant ships that were in the Mediterranean. Doing the best he could to stick to his principles he had to bend them a little for the country's protection. To defend the country, Jefferson sent a military to go defend against the Pirates. Meanwhile Jefferson was trying to negotiate, but didn't have any luck for four years, when the fighting between the pirates and the US military finally came to an end. This event shows that Jefferson was pragmatic because he did his best to stick to his principles, but in order to get pirate attacks to stop he had to go against them a little because it was in the best interest of the country.