Thomas Jefferson believed that his election as president in the elections of 1800 was nothing short of another revolution.
The Elections of 1800 | A Second Revolution:
Thomas Jefferson believed that his election as president in the elections of 1800 was nothing short of another revolution. With his election, the federalist aristocracy was overthrown and was replaced by a democratic system. Recalling the moments of his election as the president in 1800, he wrote to Judge Spencer Roane in the summer of 1819, The “revolution of 1800 ... was as real a revolution in the principles of our government as that of 1776 was in its form; not effected indeed by the sword, as that, but by the rational and peaceable instrument of reform, the suffrage of the people.” By 1819, Jefferson’s victory over Federalist rivals was very much clear. With the overwhelming support of the public, Jefferson and his followers threw out the politics of division and deception, turned back the tide of counter-revolution, and restored the country to its true republican course.
The election of 1800 was very close between Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson. Both got equal electoral votes i.e. 73 and tied for presidency. The sitting House of Representatives was asked to break the deadlock. Finally, on February 17, on the thirty-sixth ballot, the opposition cracked and Jefferson was elected. Jefferson’s election was one of his greatest political victories, asserting his belief that “the sovereign people” would repel attacks on their liberties and the enduring republican principles of 1776.
Thomas Jefferson remained president for two terms. During his presidency, the major events that took place were; Tripolitan war (1801-1805), establishment of US Military Academy (1802), Purchase of Louisiana (1803), admission of Ohio to the Union (1803), Lewis Clarke expedition (1804-1806), abolition of slave trade (1807), Chesapake affair (1807), Embargo Act (1807-1809).
Jefferson’s Philosophy of Government:
Jefferson considered America as ideal for the whole world and had the view that American Republic was not only a political organization but a social institution as well. Jefferson believed that will of the people expressed through elections gives guidance in selecting the course of running government affairs. He had faith in common man and supported agricultural society. He was against the development of urban industry and financial speculation as these things were dangerous for his Agrarian Democracy. This does not mean that he was anti modern as he supported international commerce to benefit farmers and wanted to see new TECHNOLOGY widely incorporated into ordinary farms and households to make them more productive.
According to him the government should be simple as he had faith in Laisez Faire theory which states that best government is that which governs least. He believed in weak central government and separation of powers among the institutions. For making the central government weak, he not only repealed most of the internal taxes but also reduced the size of the Army and Navy and paid-off the government debts. He was a great nationalist as he said in his inaugural address “we are all Republicans, we are all federalists”. He pledged honest friendships with all nations and entangled relations with none.
Though Jeffersonian democracy was very popular in the early nineteenth century, yet it had many flaws. The first flaw in the “Second Revolution” was the powerful role of the Federalists in life of Americans despite the rule of Jeffersonian. In the entire era of Jefferson, the Chief Justice of Supreme Court was John Marshall, an ardent Federalist. He provided deep criticism to the government affairs, supported the idea of supremacy of national power over the states by providing legal precedents. Another big flaw in “second Revolution” was the embrace of slavery.
Although Jefferson acknowledged slavery as wrong but he never took any practical step to eliminate it. He, himself and most of the party leaders were slave owners. Jefferson was also against the concept of America where free blacks and whites can live together.
Thomas Jefferson had his own philosophy of government. No doubt, his election was a “second revolution” according to his supporters, but his opponents do not agree with him as to them Jeffersonian America was contradictory in nature and it needs to be analyzed logically.