By acquiring the Louisiana Territory from France, how did President Jefferson demonstrate that he had modified his beliefs as they related to the interpretation of the Constitution?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Thomas Jefferson believed in a strict interpretation of the Constitution. A person with a strict view of the Constitution believes you can only do what the Constitution specifically says you can do. This view is in contrast to somebody who has a loose view of the Constitution. A person with a loose view of the Constitution believes you can do anything unless the Constitution specifically says you can’t do something.

When Napoleon made us the offer to buy the entire Louisiana Territory for $15 million, most people thought this was a great idea. This purchase would double the size of the country. However, President Jefferson believed that since the Constitution didn’t specifically mention that the President could buy land, it was something he shouldn’t do. However, President Jefferson showed flexibility in his thinking and in his beliefs regarding how the Constitution should be interpreted by agreeing to make the Louisiana Purchase with France. By making the decision to buy this land, President Jefferson, at least in this case, followed the thinking of a person who believed in a loose view of the Constitution.

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