A college level essay on the confused president, Thomas Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson could be known as one of the many victims of S.P.D. (Split Personality Disorder) as president of the United States. However, Jefferson had to use his presidential and national powers to maintain his philosophy of a general government that deals with foreign affairs and commerce only, while the states maintained right to govern themselves as stated in the Constitution and the following Amendments. There are three examples; The Ordeal with the Barbary State Pirates, the Louisiana Purchase and the Embargo Act in 1807.
President Jefferson wanted America to set an example for the world, forswearing military force and winning friends through "peaceful coercion". But, as most presidents dreams, reality is always harsher. The Pirates of the North African Barbary States had made an industry of blackmailing and plundering ships that went into the Mediterranean Sea. America had no choice but to go to battle with the Pirates after they cut down the flagstaff at the American consulate because the Pasha of Tripoli was dissatisfied with his share of protection money. The reason for protection money is that Jefferson had hired them for protection because he and his party "saw little point in building a fleet that might only embroil the Republic in costly and corrupting wars far from America’s shores." (pg. 220 in Chapter 11: The Triumphs and Travails of the Jeffersonian Republic, 1800-1812) Another way to keep America from going to war was to maintain neutrality with foreign affairs, but keep land given to him by France, Spain, or England.
When rumors of a secret transaction between Napoleon Bonaparte and the king of Spain were confirmed when the Spaniards at New Orleans withdrew the right to deposit (warehouse) guaranteed America by the treaty of 1795, which were vital to frontier farmers, Jefferson had to either go to war with Napoleon or buy New Orleans and whatever else land for a maximum of ten million dollars. Jefferson, however, wrestled with the two sides of himself. There was no amendment in the Constitution saying the president was authorized to negotiate treaties that brought a huge new piece of land into the Union. The other side of Jefferson wanted to go ahead and buy Louisiana, but the other wanted an amendment added to the Constitution to authorize the president to buy a piece of land that could be added to the new Union. When sharing this idea with his personal colleagues, they pointed out that Napoleon would withdraw the offer since, in his mind, "Thought was action", and would not see that it was just to cover Jefferson’s jurisdiction as president of the United States . Jefferson stated that he would become allies with Great Britain , a long time rival of America , before he would lose New Orleans to France . Jefferson had no choice but to turn in the treaties that confirmed the purchase to the Senate, while admitting to his personal colleagues that he viewed the purchase of Louisiana as unconstitutional. The transaction, at the time, was mind-boggling. Jefferson had avoided a possible war with France while not allying America with England . Even though this was a phenomenal feat, Jefferson had no other choice but to use the power given to him (by being the president) to maintain his philosophy of a general government dealing with foreign affairs and commerce only. Another way Jefferson avoided war, but without great success, is the Embargo Act.
Though long hated rivals, Britain and France yet again were in conflict, but brought America into the mix after Britain began closing down European ports that were under French control to foreign shipping, this included America, unless they stopped at a British port first. France retaliated this action by ordering the seizure of merchant ships that entered British ports. This also included America, even though America had made it crystal clear that they were neutral. Britain again retaliated this by seizing American seamen and impressing them into the kings' navy. This led to a huge event in 1807. A royal frigate overhauled the U.S. Chesapeake and demanded four deserters. The captain of the Chesapeake, under the understanding that London had never claimed the right to seize sailors from a foreign warship, refused the request. The British ship fired upon the Chesapeake at close range, killing three and wounding eighteen. What was left of the Chesapeake limped back to port while the four deserters were dragged away. Again, Jefferson could've easily had war when news of the attack reached the rest of the Americans and created "A roar of national wrath". (Page 226, Chapter 11: The Triumphs and Travails of the Jeffersonian Republic, 1800-1812) On one side, the honor of America would never permit and submission to Britain and France, but, on the other hand, war would be a pointless effort. So Jefferson, again in order to maintain his idea of peaceful coercion, allowed congress to enact the Embargo Act in late 1807. The law forbade any exported goods from the United States, whether in American or foreign ships. Jefferson, in making this act, was under the idea that the nations in war depended upon the raw materials and food sources. However, this act ended up hurting the American economy than help it. New England and the farmers of the South and West suffered the most, for huge amount of goods began to alarm most citizens. This was, in the citizens eyes, "so inquisitorial and tyrannical that it caused some Americans to begin thinking more kindly of King George the Third." (Page 227, Chapter 11: The Triumphs and Travails off the Jeffersonian Republic, 1800-1812) New England began to think of seceding from America and Congress, alarmed with the amount of public outcry, repealed the Embargo Act. Jefferson acted hastily to protect America and use his power to pass an act, while going again to maintain his principle that the government should only be used for foreign affairs and commerce.
As time went on during the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, the president went to great lengths to maintain his idea of a general government that dealt only with foreign affairs and commerce only. This is proved by the ordeal with the North African Barbary pirates, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Embargo Act. Thomas Jefferson would not be the last president to use his presidential powers to maintain his philosophies.