Thomas Jefferson's Presidency

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How did Thomas Jefferson define "democracy"? 

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Jefferson wanted people to be able to choose a path and work toward it without interference.  People had the right to be left alone.  You could choose your happiness without the government or anyone else interfering.  At its foundation, this is the American Dream.

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One thing that should be noted is that Jeffersonian democracy was quite different from our concept of what democracy means. First, as others have noted, neither he nor really any of his contemporaries seriously contemplated equal political rights for women, African-Americans, or (for the most part) Native Americans. But Jeffersonian democrats also held a conviction that seems contradictory to our modern politics: they argued that political equality had to be undergirded by a rough economic and social equality. This was an important aspect of what we have come to know as republicanism, which is perhaps a better way of describing Jefferson's thought than "democratic" as we understand the word today. While they valued property rights, they also were concerned that the amassing of great wealth which seemed to be inherent to a society that placed such an emphasis on property had a corrosive and corrupting effect on the body politic.

In fact, Jefferson's thought, and those of the Jeffersonian Republicans in general, represents for some scholars a turning point between this classical republicanism and a new liberal ethos that tended to view property rights, the free market, and limited government intervention as more important to political...

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