How did Jefferson violate his claim to be a "strict constructionist" of the Constitution in the two cases mentioned below? Some historians say he contradicted himself in his handling of the Louisiana Purchase and in his prosecution of Aaron Burr on treason charges. Why would a "strict constructionist" not have handled these two incidents as Jefferson did?

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Let's define our term first. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a strict constructionist is "one who favors giving a narrow conservative construction of a given document or instrument, specifically one who favors a strict construction of the Constitution of the United States." In other words, a strict constructionist of the Constitution believes in interpreting it exactly as it is written.

In the case of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the French offered the United States the entire Louisiana Territory of over 800,000 acres, which would double the size of the country, for the ridiculously low price of $15 million. Although he was eager to close the deal, Jefferson believed that the Constitution should be interpreted strictly and literally, and there was no provision in it regarding the federal acquisition of foreign land.

For this reason, Jefferson wanted to add a constitutional amendment before authorizing the purchase. However, Jefferson's cabinet and Congress disagreed, and...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 861 words.)

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