JEFFERSON’S REVOLUTION OF 1800
*Pierre L’Enfant, a French architect and engineer hired and later fired by Washington, had designed Washington, D.C. to be a glorious, neo-classical city. By the time of Jefferson’s inaugueration, however, it was still a swampy, muddy backwater in which foreign diplomats sometimes got hardship pay for serving.
*4 March, 1801: In his inaugural address, Jefferson attempted to bring an end to the political fighting that had characterised the election of 1800, saying ‘We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists,’ and promising to protect the rights of the political minorities.
*Secretary of State: Madison. Secretary of Treasury: Albert Gallatin.
*Despite his spirit of conciliation, however, Jefferson later called his own election in 1800 as revolution.
*In terms of massive political upheaval it was not—the election was actually very close. Jefferson only won the election in the House of Representatives when Hamilton influenced certain Federalist representatives to choose Jefferson over Burr, as Hamilton believed that, for all his faults, Jefferson was more honest and sane than Burr (who had long been Hamilton’s political rival). Under the responsible Gallatin, Jefferson’s administration even continued many of Hamilton’s old fiscal policies, continued to pay off the debt, let the import tariffs stand despite their unpopularity in the South, and did not attack the Bank of the United States.
*In terms of major changes in the ranks of government officials, it was not—although Jefferson had campaigned against Federalist corruption, he did not, in fact, remove many Federalists from office. Many of his own party felt betrayed—speaking of old Federalist appointees, at least one Jeffersonian complained that ‘few die, none resign.’
*This was especially meaningful in the judiciary, where the Federalist Congress had created sixteen new positions through the Judiciary Act of 1801, to which Adams had appointed many judges at the last minute, earning them the name ‘midnight judges.’ Chief among these was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall, a Revolutionary veteran, Valley Forge survivor, and High Federalist who would remain in power until 1835.
*The Republicans repealed the Judiciary Act of 1801.
*One of the midnight judges was William Marbury, justice of the peace for DC. Madison, Secretary of State, tried to keep him from taking office by refusing (under Jefferson’s orders) to give him the commission that would let him take office. Marbury sued Madison in the Supreme Court, asking the Supreme Court to order Madison to let him take office.
*In Marbury v Madison, John Marshall, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and another midnight judge, ruled against Marbury, saying that Section 13 of the Judiciary Act of 1789 upon which Marbury based his case was unconstitutional because it attempted to give the Supreme Court powers the Constitution had not intended, thus possibly violating the concept of separation of powers. Not only was this true, but furthermore, Madison was reluctant to provoke Jefferson too far. Marbury is not an important man, but his case is, because Marbury v Madison establishes the precedent of judicial review. This is the idea that the courts, especially the Supreme Court, have the power to rule whether or not laws (federal, state, et cetera) are actually constitutional. This makes the Supreme Court much more powerful. This is partly because John Marshall, who was a Federalist, wanted to make the Federal Government, including the judiciary, more powerful.
*In revenge, some Jeffersonians attempted to impeach another Supreme Court Justice, Samuel Chase. He was extremely unpopular—Republicans even named dogs after him. The House voted to impeach him in 1804, but the Senate concluded that being obnoxious was not a high crime nor a misdemeanor as the Constitution required for impeachment. This helped establish the independence and power of the Judiciary.
*However, in some ways Jefferson did have a Revolution. In terms of customs, his was a different presidency than that of his predecessors. He paid little attention to etiquette. At official dinners, Jefferson, although he entertained like an aristocrat (spending over $10,000 on wine during his presidency), seated people democratically, which offended many ambassadors and other officials who were used to being seated according to rank, not according to who could get to his seat first.
*Jefferson, who was a shy public speaker, did not address Congress as the Federalists had, but sent an annual message, a tradition that would not change for over a century.
*Jefferson allowed the Alien and Sedition Acts to expire, returned the time limit on naturalization of immigrants to five years, repealed the excise tax, lowered the deficit and balanced the budget.
*In many ways, the greatest revolution of all was the fact that this was a bloodless transfer of power from one faction to its opponents. When compared to other revolutions at the time and since, this demonstrated the validity and functionality of the Constitution and the American government.
The Revolution of 1800 through the Era of Good Feelings
The period between
Jefferson’s Revolution of 1800 and the end of the Era of Good Feelings
under President Monroe saw the rise of the United States as a nation.
The United States expanded geographically and began to form policies domestic
and foreign policies that would influence America for the remainder of
the century and beyond. Over the next week, you will have the opportunity
to teach the class about many of the important events and trends during
this period. Each student will be assigned a topic, research it,
present it to the class with the assistance of a visual aid, and help to
write the upcoming test. Students may work in pairs, provided every
topic is covered.
For your topic, you will read everything Bailey, Kennedy, and Cohen about it, and you will also do research in some outside sources. A written paper is not required, but you must turn in a bibliography listing at least five sources (which will include your textbook). Although some of these may be from the Internet, at least two must be another type of source such as a book or a journal or a magazine.
Your presentation must be between five and fifteen minutes in length, and will include a visual aid, such as a poster or a chart or some interesting item that can be passed around the class. The presentation and visual aid may be combined to create a video, provided it lasts between five and ten minutes.
Before giving your presentation, you will turn in a copy of your bibliography. Your score will be returned to you with your bibliography. This will count as two daily grades, one for the presentation itself, and one for the ancillary materials, such as the visual aid and the bibliography.
1. Jefferson’s military policies and
the Barbary Wars
2. The Louisiana Purchase
3. Lewis and Clark and their expedition
4. Aaron Burr, his conspiracies and his famous duel
5. The Napoleonic Wars and the Chesapeake Incident
6. The Embargo
7. Tecumseh and the Prophet
8. The War Hawks and their goals
9. The invasion of Canada
10. The American naval campaigns
11. Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812
12. The Treaty of Ghent
13. The Hartford Convention
14. Early national literature (Cooper, Irving, &c)
15. The American System
16. The Era of Good Feelings and the Panic of 1819
17. The Missouri Compromise
18. John Marshall and Judicial Nationalism
19. Oregon and Florida
20. The Monroe Doctrine
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This page last updated 22 September, 2003.