How effectively did Jefferson transform those principles into policy?Thomas Jefferson prided himself on the principles of democracry, local self-rule, and limited government. that goes with the...

How effectively did Jefferson transform those principles into policy?

Thomas Jefferson prided himself on the principles of democracry, local self-rule, and limited government. that goes with the qustion

Asked on by hnchilders

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Jefferson had a huge impact because he wrote his ideals into the Declaration of Independece. The Revolution was based on these ideas. I disagree that slavery made Jefferson a hypocrite. He didn't beleive in slavery, but it was a part of his society and in order to be powerful in Virginia he needed slaves.
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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Thomas Jefferson was a dedicated Anti-federalist who believed a limited government could function well as a democracy, and that a perfect society of small farmers was the ultimate goal.  He found this idea difficult, though, when he became President in 1801, ironically now in charge of a Federal government. 

Some historians, and anti-federalists who supported Jefferson criticize him as having been more of a Federalist than John Adams or the rest.  He bought the Louisiana Territory from France even though the Constitution did not give him the power (and the $15 million price tag was twice the entire national budget), because it was such an impossibly good deal.  He went to war against the Tripoli Pirates and also placed an Embargo Act on merchants that all seemed very Federalist.  But he still limited the government's actions in most individuals' lives.

You could also argue that Jefferson was a bit of a snob when it came to politics.  He felt that he and a few others were qualified to govern, and that the uneducated, unwashed masses should leave government to people like him.  He honestly wanted to act in their best interests, but he didn't believe in true democracy when it came to their influence in elections or policy.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In some ways, Jefferson did a good job transforming his principles into policy.  He helped move the country towards a greater level of suffrage, for example.  By that, I mean that he helped get more people to be able to vote.

The biggest hole in Jefferson's actions had to do with slavery.  I suppose that you can say that this is a positive because he wanted the Southern states to have local self-rule on this issue.  But, on the other hand, it seems to me that having slavery is a pretty direct contradiction of most of the principles of democracy.

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