Analyze the way that The War of 1812 represented a shift in the ideals of Jeffersonian Democracy during the period 1800-1824.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I find two significant ways in which Jefferson's philosophy was shifted as a result of the War of 1812.  The first would be in the reconceptualization of laissez- faire.  Jefferson's Republican tendencies was to initially embrace the idea of non- intervention and "to let alone."  The role of government was deemphasized and the lack of government action was notable in the Jeffersonian ideal.  Yet, in the War of 1812, the government was forced to respond to the impressment of sailors and the increasing tension between France and England.  Laissez faire became supplanted with entrance into the war, where government action was more evident than at really any other time in the Jefferson administration.  I also think that the the strict interpretation of the Constitution, where powers are clearly defined within it and power is exercised through it are elements that were shifted to the other side as a result of the War of 1812.  The idea that the Constitution could be strictly interpreted in a war was not going to happen.  Once war was declared, a more loose and pliable interpretation of the Constitution was evident because wars increase centrality, something that the strict interpretation of the Constitution that Jefferson revered would not advocate.  In this, there is a fundamental shift in his belief systems and in his ideals with the advent of the War of 1812.

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