Essay on Madison v Jefferson Constructionists

Submitted By JDupy
Words: 744
Pages: 3

When the constitutional convention first met and the United States constitution was written all of the delegates, at that time, was considered federalists. By the time John Adams was out of presidential office in 1801 two distinct parties had emerged and their opposing views on the interpretation of the constitution were vastly different. At first both Jefferson and Madison adopted and supported Alexander Hamilton’s financial ideas and both supported the necessary and proper clause in order to help maintain the nation’s security from foreign attacks. During their presidencies Thomas Jefferson and James Madison relied on lose construction, rather then their earlier leaning toward strict construction, while the Federalists who usually advocated lose construction switched in order to oppose whatever the two presidents attempted to pass. Many thought of Jefferson before his presidency to be a strong supporter for states rights and strict construction. When Jefferson was first elected president one of his first acts was to try and weaken the military and cancel out the advocating of federal funds to the Army and Navy. However since the British and French continued to impress American sailors he put into place an embargo. Many shippers disagreed and thought negatively of the embargo as illustrated in Alexander Anderson’s 1808 cartoon. (Doc C) In the embargo that he put into place he said that the federal government would have power to regulate trade, which was the opposite of what he earlier though the federal government should be allowed to do. Another prime example of Thomas Jefferson practicing lose construction during his presidency was the purchase of the Louisiana territory. He earlier believed that the central government did not have the authority to purchase lands however he bent the constitution and his own views in order to acquire the land.
Jefferson did though still maintain some of his earlier pre presidency beliefs, which can be seen in his message to congress in 1817 vetoing the Internal Improvements Bill. This bill would have the federal government give funds to individual states in order for them to build canals and roads to promote easier and smother state-to-state commerce. In the letter he claims that the entire act is basically unconstitutional, showing his support of strict construction in that case. (Doc H)
In addition to the letters outlining Jefferson’s tendency to switch policies to meet his agenda, in a speech made by John Randolph about the proposed tariff of 1816 he explains to the House of Representatives that Jefferson’s true principals have been renounced and he has taken up the ideas of John Adams. (Doc F) This further illustrates how Jefferson Switched his views and instead of favoring the people gave favor to manufacturers by imposing this tariff and thusly raising prices in order to stay competitive which caused citizens to have to pay more for goods.
After James Madison became president in 1809 he took on the issue of…