The 3rd President of the United States of America
The Jeffersonian Era
"We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists"

Table of Contents:
Jefferson's Presidency

Madison's Presidency
War of 1812

Jefferson's Presidency

Election of 1800
By 1800, the American people were unhappy with President John Adams, mainly due to the Alien and Sedition Acts, and high taxes to pay for a presumed war with France. The two Republican candidates, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, received the same number of electoral votes, so the decision went to congress. The Federalist House of Representatives voted for Jefferson, who Hamilton believed to be the lesser evil of the two.

Jefferson called his victory the Revolution of 1800: it signaled the beginning of the end of the Federalist era, and the rise of the Democratic-Republicans to power. Burr shot Hamilton in a duel, ridding the Federalists of their great leader.

Actions as President
Jefferson limited the size and power of the federal government by scaling down the military and other federal positions. The military was to be used for national defense, with a smaller professional army on call. He abolished the direct tax of 1798 and reduced government expenditures to aid the national debt. He also repealed parts of the Alien and Sedition Acts, and pardoned the 10 citizens who had been incriminated by them.

Perhaps the most memorable move of his presidency was the Louisiana Purchase. The territory was commercially valuable property owned by the French. Under Spanish rule, Americans were not allowed to trade at the Port of New Orleans, though according to the Pinckney Treaty, they did have this right. Napoleon had hoped to build a North American French Empire, but conflicts in France made this impossible. He therefore offered to sell the land to the United States at a very low price. Jefferson uncharacteristically used the elastic clause in buying the land without congress' consent. The Louisiana Purchase doubled America's farmland, removed foreign danger from the frontier, and strengthened the agrarian society Jefferson idealized as farmers moved west for more land. Jefferson sent explorers Lewis and Clark on an expedition to explore the new territory. They ended up the Oregon Coast, far past the boundaries of the purchase. US claims to Oregon were strengthened, as was knowledge of the land, relations with Native Americans improved, and maps and routes were made for settlers.
Foreign Policy
Jefferson wanted to maintain American neutrality and avoided permanent alliances as Washington had advised. This was, however, impossible. The first two presidents of the US had payed a small tribute to the Barbary pirates to ensure that American merchants were not seized. When Jefferson took office, they demanded a higher sum of money. Rather than pay, Jefferson sent out a naval fleet. Four years of intermittent fighting ensued which gained the nation some respect and provided protection in the Mediterranean.
The real challenge to neutrality, however, lay in the Napoleonic wars raging between France and Britain. Britain frequently impressed American merchants to the British navy, though they were a neutral nation. In 1807, the British ship Leopard fired on the American Chesapeake, killing three. America was roused for war, but Jefferson instead made the Embargo Act. This act ended all international trade. Jefferson figured that the US could more easily do without European luxuries than Britain could do without the crops and general supplies from America. But England found other means of procuring goods, so the act ended up hurting the United States' economy much more than Britain's, especially that of the north which had come to rely on trade. Some American merchants found ways of selling to Britain through loopholes, but the economy was nevertheless crippled.
The OGRABME turtle
As a result of this unpopular act the federalists gained power in congress, but Madison won the election of 1807.

Marbury v. Madison
As a lame duck president, John Adams had made several new Federalist appointments to government offices: the midnight appointees. Jefferson refused to honor these appointments. William Marbury, one of these appointees, sued secretary of state James Madison for not delivering his appointment. In ruling the Judiciary Act of 1789 unconstitutional, Chief Justice John Marshall established the concept of Judicial Review. Under this crucial precedent, the Supreme Court may nullify any act of the executive or legislature when it is deemed unconstitutional.

Madison's Presidency

Election of 1808
Secretary of State James Madison ran against two other Democratic-Republic candidate, and Charles Pinckney, the Federalist pick. Although Madison won the presidency, dissatisfaction with the Embargo Act helped the Federalists gain the majority in congress. Dissatisfied Federalists referred to the impending war as "Mr. Madison's War".

The 4th President of the United States

Actions during the Presidency
After the repeal of the Embargo Act, Madison aimed to end the economic crisis while maintaining his country's neutrality. He did so by opening trade to all nations except Britain and France in the Non-Intercourse Act of 1809. Macon's Bill Number 2 then opened trade with both nations, but with the guarantee that should one nation agree to respect the US's neutral rights, trade with the other would be stopped. Napoleon consequently announced that France would respect America's neutral rights, and Madison accordingly cut off trade with Britain. However, Napoleon did not in fact follow through, and continued seizing US ships.

War of 1812


When Tecumseh formed a confederacy of Native American Tribes, William Henry Harrison went to negotiate with him. Tecumseh's brother attacked, leading to the Battle of Tippecanoe, which made Harrison famous. He was victorious, but the battle further aggregated anti-British sentiment as the people blamed Britain for instigating the battle. Both the Embargo Act and the Non-Intercourse Act were made in response to violations of US neutral rights, especially impressment of US merchants. However, these did not work, and Madison resorted to war.
War Hawks, young Republicans in congress such as Henry Clay and John Calhoun, pushed for war in order to gain strength and honor for the nation, seize Canada, and end Native American resistance on the frontier.


With only 12 ships and a faltering economy, America was both militarily and financially unprepared for war. Revenue from import tariffs declined, and there was heavy of inflation as the nation was flooded with paper money.
By 1814, America realized it could not win the war, and Britain was tired of fighting. In the Treaty of Ghent, Britain returned impressed merchants, and all land holdings remained the same. No mention was made of the maritime grievances that essentially started the war in the first place. The treaty created a stalemate between the two nations.
The signing of the Treaty of Ghent

Even after the war ended, Andrew Jackson decided to continue fighting at the Battle of New Orleans, a prelude to his harsh presidential policies. This gained him national recognition and fame which would later lead to his election as President of the United States.


At the Hartford Convention hosted by the Federalists, a vote on secession from the Union narrowly failed. Because the convention took place just as America won the war, the rest of the country turned against the Federalists, and they quickly lost the remainder of their political power. Due to the fall of the Federalists, only one party remained- the Democratic-Republicans. Because there were no more warring parties, the Era of Good Feelings began. In addition, the South later used the precedent set by the Hartford Convention in their own secession.