The Democratic - Republican Party was founded in 1792 by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and was characterized as strict constructionist, which meant that members believed that the constitution should be interpreted by what was written. The ideas of the Democratic-Republicans were opposed to those of the Federalist who believed in loose interpretation. Both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison served as presidents under the Democratic - Republican Party.Jefferson served from March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1809 and Madison from March 4, 1809 – March 4, 1817, while both believed that the constitution should be interpreted strictly how it was written throughout both of their presidencies Jefferson and Madison stayed true to the beliefs of the Democratic - Republican Party while allowing for loose interpretation either to benefit person agendas or for the betterment of the country.When Jefferson first took office he took a strong stand against the ideas and beliefs of the Federalist Party.
Jefferson alleged that the nation “can never be harmonious and solid while so respectable a portion of its citizens support principles which go directly to a change of the federal Constitution” (Doc. A). Jefferson initially viewed the use loose interpretation of the Constitution to make laws and policies, as a direct challenge to state power which the Democratic - Republican Party so strongly believed in.He believed that Federalists were wrong in their way of interpreting the Constitution and that they were trying to “sink the state governments, consolidate them into one, and to monarchies that” (Doc. A). Jefferson believed that the “country is too large to have all its affairs directed by a single government…” (Doc.
A) And feared that with too much power a monarchy could soon consume the United States again. Jackson believed that with loose interpretation of the constitution things such as even religion could be controlled by the government.Jackson stated that “no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general [federal] government” (Doc. B) Jackson believed that religion along with everything else “It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority” The greatest example of transfoation of Jefferson’s actions reflecting the Federalist Party instead of the Democratic - Republican Party was in the Louisiana Purchase in which Jefferson, acting against the strict interpretation of the Constitution, purchased Louisiana from France for $15 million.
Granting this wise land purchase, doubled the size of the United States, it was one of the highlights of Jefferson’s presidency, it completely went against his ideals that “civil powers alone have been given to the President of the U. S. ” (Doc. B). An additional act by the Jefferson that reflected Federalist principles was the passage of the Embargo Act of 1807, which said that American ships could not sail into foreign ports which mainly consisted of France and England.This hurt the American economy and it stimulated great Federalist criticism of Jefferson’s ability to lead the country.
After dealing with negative press about this choice Jefferson, when asked if he advocated loose interpretation of the Constitution does not directly answer this question but says, “I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions…But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind…institutions must advance also and keep pace with the times” (Doc. G).The contrasting idea of Constitutional interpretation continued into Madison’s presidency when he was elected 1808. The War of 1812 is viewed as another example of the exchange of roles between the Federalists and the Democratic - Republican Party.
Many Federalists were against the war while many Democratic - Republican Party, who were mainly southern farmers and western frontiersmen gave their full support for the war, backing their support with claims that the United States had to protect its interests by proclaiming its power through military act.Daniel Webster, a Federalist from New Hampshire, in a speech concerning the constitutionality of the federal government’s right to “fill the ranks of the regular army by compulsion”, said “Where is it written in the Constitution that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war in which the folly or the wickedness of the government may engage it? ” (Doc. D. ).The Federalists were openly questioning the Democratic - Republican Party interpretation of the Constitution, as the loose interpretation was being utilized by the Republican administration against the will of the Federalists who just years earlier were enjoying flexible interpretation of the Constitution during the enactment of laws such as the Alien and Sedition Acts. During the Hartford Convention in 1814-1815, delegates from some Federalist states met to debate secession.
Nullification was declared a states’ right in protection of personal liberties as the limits on federal government power based on the Constitution were stated (Doc. E). Whereas before it had been the Jeffersonian Republicans stressing the importance of state power and the protection of liberty in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, it was now the Federalists during the Hartford Convention calling for the use of state sovereignty to protect against unconstitutionality.The ways in which the Constitution was interpreted by Democratic - Republican Party and the Federalists Party between the years of 1801 and 1817 changed drastically. During the presidencies of Jefferson and Madison the ideas and beliefs of both parties changed from the start of 1801 with Jefferson openly disagreeing with the views of the Federalist on into Madison’s presidency where it is more common for his choices to reflect the ideas that were commonly aquatinted with the Federalist parties.