What was Thomas Jefferson's stance on war and why?

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Jefferson's stance on war overall was negative. He cut the size of the military budget as he viewed a strong military as being a tool of a despot. He believed in the power of the state militias to carry the fight to the Native Americans in the West. Jefferson sent the Marines to fight the Barbary Pirates so that the United States could stop the practice of paying this group yearly tribute for the right to trade in the Mediterranean. Jefferson viewed this as a cost-cutting move.

In terms of the Napoleonic War, which was growing stronger and more desperate with each passing year, Jefferson believed that the United States could trade with whomever it wished in the conflict. Jefferson resented British and French ships stopping American merchantmen looking for contraband. In 1807, Jefferson passed the Embargo Act, which banned trade between the United States and the warring powers in Europe. Jefferson agreed to trade with the first power that agreed to stop raiding American sailors. This was done in an act of neutrality that Jefferson hoped would bring the European powers to their senses so that they would see that they were losing a valuable trade partner in the principled United States. All of this only hurt American merchants as they could not sell their products in one of their best markets. This mainly hurt merchants in the Northeast, who also claimed that Jefferson was acting to hurt a Federalist stronghold region with his foreign policy.

When France agreed to stop the raids, Jefferson signed trade agreements with France. Jefferson was neutral during the Napoleonic Wars, but since he was a Francophile, one can be allowed to believe that he was really hoping that France would acknowledge American trading rights first.

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