Jeffersonian Democracy

There have been pains taken when it comes to showing the wide range and diversity of how Jefferson thought, and even more so how he went with the changes through time, advocating the basis of commerce, industry and National Power. All these assets of Jefferson can be united under one actual label, that label being “Thomas Jefferson: Commercial Agrarian Democrat” . The likelihood is there of the label being stretched out to “Commercial Industrial Agrarian Democratic Federalist” if the leaning follows the current path that it is on.

Does the tag that was just given fit? While it is true that Jefferson was an agrarian, yet not an agrarian fundamentalist, he did fluctuate with the times. Jefferson started and ended his life as a consummate agrarian. American Democracy most clear to Jefferson when he thought of it with a background of agrarian philosophy. The term used for the political ideas of Thomas Jefferson and those who followed until the Presidency of Andrew Jackson, is Jeffersonian Democracy. Jefferson wanted a political system that was in favor of public education, free voting, free press, limited government, agrarian democracy, while shying away from aristocratic rule. Even though this is how Jefferson felt many times he did not stick to these values.

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Jefferson believed that reason was what ruled many of the citizens. His Republican beliefs were in favor of a largely rural population with very little government interference. Like man of the founding fathers, Jefferson wanted a republican system in which governmental power was shared between state and federal. His views of a federal government with limited powers, did not sit well with those who lived in cities. A couple of names that did not agree with Jefferson were, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton both of whom wanted a powerful central government. When Jefferson became President, he made some big changes in the in appointed employees around him. He replaced many of the established government employees with those who were Republican followers, as a reward for their loyalty, stating that he wanted a balance in partisan thought.

Jefferson’s most essential view politically was that there needed to be a total agreement when it came to the choices of those who held the power. This concept came out of his profound confidence in a person’s ability to reason, Jefferson also held that the wishes of those who voted were, stated during the elections, and gave the proper direction for putting the Republic on the right track the path.

Part of Jefferson’s thought process included that the central government should be reduced and be rather frugal in their spending. Thereby as president Jefferson cut down the size and funding of the central government, to do this he stopped federal taxes, cut down the amount of people serving in the military, and he also took to eliminating the debt incurred by the government. By limiting the federal government Jefferson acted on how he himself interpreted the Constitution.

Jefferson did see two perilous threats to what he considered the perfect Agrarian Democracy, which played a part in how he ran the country during his Presidency. For Jefferson economic assumption and the expansion of inner-city commerce endangered men, as it potentially had the ability to strip them of the freedom that they preserved as planters. That same Debt, and Industrialization, could steal from men the financial independence crucial for republican citizens.

Current Thinking and Relationship

Thomas Jefferson wanted the economy in America to be built around agriculture while keeping the manufacturing businesses in Europe. Jefferson understood that there was a need for some national manufacturing, but Jefferson also believed that the large amount of the land in America would be used best as farm land. This view was widely different than Alexander Hamilton’s, who believed that manufacturing and commerce was the way to go. Hamilton’s views on how the economy should go, eventually won out. As a result, America moved forward, leaving behind the agrarian way of life that Jefferson wanted, and toward manufacturing. This fact can be seen today as “less than 2% of American’s farm” . Even though everyone must eat, the art of farming and growing one’s own food has taken a less direct approach to how it impacts people’s lives now, compared to other parts of American or even world history. Because of this approach we can clearly see how Hamilton’s opinions have had an effect not only here in America but around the world.

Jefferson fought hard for this country to be started on the agrarian way of life, and to use the land as wisely as possible. As working the land in ways that can last due to the focus agrarianism has on how connected the land is to the life around it. The Agrarians of today understand sustainability and how humans need the Earth, land and animals for continued survival. It is the credence of agrarians that all who buy goods are correspondingly concerned in the ethics of that action, as those who let excess items go unused, are concerned in the end. Even those who harvest or peddle items are ethically accountable for their work, contrarily to the market which cannot forgive or purify once the product is sold. The 4H clubs and FFA’s (Future Farmers of America) are a great teaching source for the youth of today to learn more about where our food originates, the process of farming for our foods and caring for the animals that we raise. Jefferson’s beliefs on the agrarian way of life is still being passed on to our children in hopes that they can keep the art of farming alive for generations to come.

Conclusion

“If Thomas Jefferson’s agrarian ideology prevailed, would we still be in the current state of environmental degradation we are currently in?” If Jefferson’s views had been able to flourish and had been allowed to take root, we may not be dealing with the level of ecological problems we have today, but America also may have never grown the level of World-Wide influence that we have. While both Jefferson and Hamilton were somewhat accurate in their way of thinking, a concession on how much of each we needed to have on both sides of the equation to succeed would have been the way to go.

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