U.S. Presidents 1789 to 1840 Essay

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The presidents that served between 1789 and 1840 helped shape the nation during its formative years. During this critical period in American history, statesmen laid the foundations for political culture, philosophy, and institutions. Although all the presidents during this fifty-year period had some influence on the early republic, several left a more outstanding mark and legacy. As a Founding Father and author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson undoubtedly deserves recognition as one of the most important presidents in the entire history of the country. As a slave owner who believed in a small central government, Jefferson also set a precedent for what would become a series of contentious compromises between Americans who supported racism and the slave trade and those who recognized the ways slavery contradicted the underlying principles of the democracy. Likewise, James Monroe carried on the American legacy of compromise, and is remembered most by the Monroe Doctrine and the Missouri Compromise. The years between 1789 and 1840 established the principles and practices of Manifest Destiny, and Westward expansion, creating what would become a superpower just a hundred years later. This half-century also revealed the schisms in American society, particularly regarding federalists versus anti-federalists, and racists versus abolitionists. Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe both established domestic and foreign policies that impacted not just the United States, but the entire world.

In fact, Jefferson and Monroe worked together throughout their political careers. Both men were at some point the governor of the state of Virginia, and both helped to solidify the Louisiana Purchase. During Jefferson’s first term as President, he sent James Monroe to France to negotiate a purchase of the port of New Orleans. However, James Monroe took the deal a step further by negotiating the entire Louisiana Purchase in 1803, which “effectively doubled the size of the United States,” (“James Monroe” 1). Both Jefferson and Monroe deserve credit for the Louisiana Purchase, a formidable moment in American history because of the way it expanded not just territorial acquisitions but also American political and economic power throughout the New World.
The Louisiana Purchase helped instigate the era of Manifest Destiny and Westward Expansion. Moreover, the Louisiana Purchase exemplified the debate over whether to allow slavery in newly acquired territories. After securing the territory of Louisiana, Monroe also entered into a new treaty with Britain that set aside the conflicts of the War of Independence while ensuring ongoing strategic alliances between Old World and New. These alliances would allow the United States to have ongoing and lucrative trade relationships with Europe, but Jefferson remained suspicious of Britain and did not approve the treaty Monroe negotiated without presidential approval (“James Monroe” 1).

Thomas Jefferson is heralded as a Founding Father because he wrote the Declaration of Independence, which permanently extricated the new nation from Crown rule. Throughout his political career, Jefferson harbored strong feelings about autonomy, sovereignty, and small government, which is why he mistrusted the Crown even after independence was won. Before the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was heavily involved in colony politics as the governor of Virginia and had long been a stalwart advocate of self-rule in the colonies (“Thomas Jefferson” 1). Jefferson’s contributions to American political culture included his advocacy for states’ rights and his tacit approval of slavery. Although he was not in the center of the Federalist versus Anti-Federalist rivalry, Jefferson did side with Aaron Burr over federalist opponents like Alexander Hamilton. The anti-federalists prevented the United States from taking a strong nationwide stance to resolving its slavery crisis, eventually leading to Civil War.

Jefferson’s anti-federalist stance also led to unique transformations in….....

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Works Cited

“James Monroe.” History.com. Retrieved online: http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/james-monroe

“Thomas Jefferson.” History.com. Retrieved online: http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/thomas-jefferson

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