Jeffersonian Democracy

"Never did a prisoner, released from his chains, feel such relief as I shall
 on shaking off the shackles of power."



   I. Jefferson's First Term = "Parade of Triumphs"
       A. Inaugural Address unexpectedly tame
            1. Downplayed differences between parties
            2. Hardly alarming to Federalists
       B. Jefferson: intelligent, reserved, casual, resentful
       C. Jefferson's conduct toward existing Federalist policies
            1. Alien & Sedition Acts repealed or allowed to expire
            2. Whiskey Tax repealed
            3. Hamilton's fiscal plan largely untouched
            4. Fed'l-state power balance not disrupted
            5. Sharp cuts in military expenditures
       D. Marbury v. Madison (re: Judiciary Act of 1801)
            1. Adams's "midnight judges"
            2. Marshall's ruling = "judicial review"
            3. Jefferson's abuse of impeachment process
       E. War with Tripoli (1801)
       F. Louisiana Territory (1803) = America × 2
            1. Purchased from France for $15 million
            2. Two-ocean country foreseeable (14 new states)
            3. Lewis & Clark Expedition (w/ Sacajawea)
            4. Strengthened U.S. claim to Oregon Country
            5. Other western explorers (inc. Freeman, Pike)
       G. Essex Junto (1803)
            1. Northern Confederacy
            2. Hamilton vs. Burr duel
 II. Jefferson's Second Term = "Clouds on the Horizon"
       A. Yazoo land frauds
       B. Burr's hazy conspiracy
       C. Napoleonic Wars
            1. Military stalemate caused economic warfare
                  • Berlin Decree & Milan Decree
                  • Orders in Council & Chesapeake incident
            2. Embargo Act of 1807 ("peaceable coercion")
                  • disastrous to American economy
                  • widespread bitter opposition
            3. Non-Intercourse Act (1809)
            4. Macon's Bill No. 2 (1810)
       D. Election of 1808 = Jefferson passes the torch
            1. Embargo Act did not darken Jefferson's record
            2. Federalists gained some seats in Congress
       E. Madison: intelligent, conscientious, vacillating
III. War of 1812 (aka "Mr. Madison's War")
       A. Federalists (North) vs. "War Hawks" (South/West)
            1. Why war?
                  • economic hardship
                  • imperialistic desire (esp. Florida)
                  • frontier Indian hostilities
                  • spirit of patriotism aroused by arrogant British
            2. Why not war?
                  • pure political opposition (unanimous nay vote)
                  • natural cultural & economic ties w/ Britain
                  • military considerations
                      ✓ American forces no match for Britain's
                      ✓ real potential danger to America was France
       B. Failure of early American offensive vs. Canada
       C. Notable American sea victories (Hull & Perry)
            1. USS Constitution in mid-Atlantic (Aug 1812)
            2. USS Niagara on Lake Erie (Sep 1813)
       D. Key defeats of Indian forces (Harrison & Jackson)
            1. Shawnee/Tecumseh at Thames River (Oct 1813)
            2. Creek/Red Eagle at Horseshoe Bend (Mar 1814)
       E. British three-pronged assault (mid-1814)
            1. Montreal (Battle of Plattsburgh)
            2. Chesapeake Bay (Fort McHenry)
            3. New Orleans (casualties: Br. = 2100; Am. < 25)
                  • chronology troublesome
                  • real significance
                      ✓ military battle victory?
                      ✓ presidential election campaign!
       F. Treaty of Ghent = status quo ante bellum (Dec 1814)
            1. Long process (demands, but no military basis)
            2. John Quincy Adams chief American negotiator
       G. Hartford Convention (1814)
       H. Lasting American traditions
            1. Key's poem: "The Star-Spangled Banner"
            2. "Uncle Sam" personification
            3. Executive mansion = "White House" (?)
VI. Era of Good Feelings = "Death of the Federalist Party"
       A. Monroe: patriotic, non-partisan, unimaginative
            1. 1816 = defeated Rufus King (last Federalist)
            2. 1820 = one vote shy of unanimous
       B. Post-war America
            1. America's "Second War for Independence"
                  • improved Anglo-American relations
                      ✓ revival of trade
                      ✓ lessened military friction
                  • democracy amid peace & prosperity
                      ✓ shift from existence mode to spirit of growth
                      ✓ embraced Washington's isolationism idea
            2. Increased immigration from Europe
            3. Explosion of American patriotism & nationalism
                  • July 4th celebration
                  • Noah Webster's dictionary
       C. New political leadership (esp. "Great Triumvirate")
            1. North → Adams, Clinton, Van Buren, Webster
            2. South → Calhoun, Crawford
            3. West → Benton, Clay, Harrison, Jackson
       D. Domestic issues
            1. Transportation links between East & West
                  • National Road (west from Cumberland, Maryland)
                  • Erie Canal (Albany to Buffalo/Lake Erie, New York)
                  • Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (1st run = 1830)
            2. Panic of 1819
            3. Missouri Compromise (1820)
                  • Missouri (slave) & Maine (free)
                  • slavery banned north of 36° 30'
            4. Supreme Court decisions
                  • Sturges v. Crowninshield (1819)
                  • Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819)
                  • McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
                  • Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
       E. Foreign affairs
            1. Normalization of Anglo-American relations
                  • Rush-Bagot Agreement (1817)
                  • Convention of 1818
                      ✓ joint sovereignty of Oregon Country (10 yrs)
                      ✓ 49th parallel = U.S./Canadian border
            2. Adams-Onís Transcontinental Treaty (1819)
                  • U.S. rec'd Florida for $5 million
                  • 42nd parallel = north boundary of New Spain
                  • U.S. relinquished claim to Texas
            3. Monroe Doctrine (1823)
                  • statement of official policy (not a treaty)
                      ✓ first U.S. attempt at hemispheric leadership
                      ✓ completed evolution of U.S. independence
                  • immediate targets were Russia & Spain
                  • monarchial Europe vs. democratic New World
                  • globally pooh-poohed; militarily unsupportable
 V. Election of 1824 = "Corrupt Bargain" (?)
       A. Candidates
            1. John Quincy Adams (Sec. of State) → New England
            2. William Crawford (Sec. of Treasury) → South
            3. Henry Clay (Speaker of the House) → West
            4. Andrew Jackson (war hero) → broad nat'l appeal
            5. John C. Calhoun (Sec. of War) → settles for V-P spot
       B. Jackson misses out
            1. Tops in popular vote & electoral vote, but...
            2. House of Reps picks Adams, then Adams picks Clay



  • Marbury v. Madison
  • "midnight judges"
  • John Marshall
  • judicial review
  • Barbary pirates
  • Louisiana Purchase
  • Corps of Discovery
  • Sacajawea
  • Zebulon Pike
  • Essex Junto
  • Hamilton-Burr duel
  • Yazoo land claims
  • Burr conspiracy
  • James Wilkinson
  • impressment
  • Berlin Decree
  • Orders in Council
  • Milan Decree
  • Chesapeake-Leopard incident
  • Embargo Act of 1807
  • "Ograbme" cartoon
  • Non-Intercourse Act
  • Macon's Bill No. 2
  • War Hawks
  • Tecumseh
  • Battle of Tippecanoe
  • William Henry Harrison
  • Francis Scott Key
  • Treaty of Ghent
  • status quo ante bellum
  • John Quincy Adams
  • "Uncle Sam"
  • Hartford Convention
  • Battle of New Orleans
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Johnny Horton
  • Noah Webster
  • "Virginia Dynasty"
  • Rufus King
  • Era of Good Feelings
  • "Great Triumvirate"
  • Henry Clay
  • John C. Calhoun
  • Daniel Webster
  • Thomas Hart Benton
  • Cumberland Road
  • Erie Canal
  • Rush-Bagot Agreement
  • Convention of 1818
  • Adams-Onís Treaty
  • Sturges v. Crowninshield
  • Dartmouth College v. Woodward
  • McCulloch v. Maryland
  • Gibbons v. Ogden
  • Missouri Compromise
  • Monroe Doctrine
  • "corrupt bargain"

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the West by Stephen E. Ambrose


  • Thomas Jefferson: First Inaugural Address (1801)
  • Alexander Anderson: "Ograbme" Political Cartoon (1807)
  • James Madison: War Message against Great Britain (1812)
  • James Monroe: Monroe Doctrine (1823)


1.  Compare Thomas Jefferson's political theory with his political actions, accounting
     for any discrepancies.

2.  Explain how the judicial branch of our federal government grew in power and
     prestige during Thomas Jefferson's administration.

3.  As Thomas Jefferson left his second term as President, he stated, "Never did a
     prisoner, released from his chains, feel such relief as I shall on shaking off the
     shackles of power." Use this quote to compare Jefferson's two presidential terms.

4.  The War of 1812 has at times been labeled "Mr. Madison's War" and the "Second War
     for Independence." Explain how each of these descriptions is accurate.

5.  What were the causes of the War of 1812? What were the results? What issues were
     left unresolved? Using your responses to these questions, evaluate the importance
     of the War of 1812.

6.  The Monroe Doctrine, according to historian John Garraty, was the "final stage in the
     evolution of American independence." Justify this statement, tracing the evolutionary
     process from its beginning.


  1. President Thomas Jefferson was known for his
    1. support of agrarian interests.
    2. bipartisan appointment of political officials.
    3. attention to the ceremonial aspects of the presidency.
    4. outstanding achievements in foreign affairs.

  2. James Madison's margin of victory in the 1808 presidential election was a clear indication of
    1. the public's desire to return to the Federalist ideals of pre-1800.
    2. President Thomas Jefferson's popularity as well as the political ineptitude of the Federalists.
    3. Madison's immense popularity among commercial interests in the North.
    4. the outstanding accomplishments of President Thomas Jefferson's second term.

  3. The Era of Good Feelings marked the disappearance of
    1. sectionalism.
    2. the Federalist Party.
    3. excessive taxation.
    4. troubles with the Indians on the frontier.

  4. President James Monroe's chief accomplishments occurred in
    1. westward expansion.
    2. business and industry.
    3. Indian policy.
    4. foreign affairs.

  5. The establishment of the 49th parallel as the boundary between Canada and the United States was accomplished by the
    1. Treaty of Ghent.
    2. Rush-Bagot Agreement.
    3. Convention of 1818.
    4. Adams-Onís Treaty.

Gutzon Borglum intended George Washington's likeness to symbolize the founding of the new nation and self-governance, independent of Great Britain. The image of Thomas Jefferson was meant to represent America's democratic political philosophy and the first great period of expansion, when the United States purchased Louisiana from France. Jefferson was initially placed to Washington's right, but was relocated owing to faulty rock. All traces of the partially-carved first Jefferson were eradicated. Click on either face to access LECTURE GUIDE for this unit.


 J. J. Schultz '07