SS7 Chapter 10 Notes: The Jefferson Era

Section 1: A New Party in Power (p. 268-271)

The Election of 1800

These were the choices in the election of 1800:

Party President Vice President
Federalist John Adams Charles Pinckney
Republicans Thomas Jefferson Aaron Burr

The two sides fought hard to win. Federalists said Jefferson was “godless.” Republicans said Federalists would bring back a monarchy.

In the United States, it is the Electoral College that elects the president. Today, the system is much like it was in 1800.

The Election Process in 1800
People choose electors. The electors meet in the Electoral College to elect the president.
Electors vote for two people. They do not say which vote is for president and which is for vice president.
The person with the most votes becomes president. The person with the next highest number of votes becomes vice president.
If there is a tie, the House of Representatives votes.

When the electors voted in 1800, there was a tie. Jefferson and Burr received the same number of votes, so the vote moved to the House of Representatives. The House voted 35 times. Each time the vote was a tie. Finally, one Federalist changed his vote. Jefferson won.

Congress did not want another tie, so in 1803 they changed (amended) the Constitution. Congress and the states passed the Twelfth Amendment. This amendment says electors vote once for president and once for vice president.

Jefferson was inaugurated – became president – in 1801.

Jefferson wanted to limit the power and size of the federal government. He thought states should have more power and states could protect freedom better than a large federal government. He also wanted to cut government spending.

Jefferson as President

Jefferson chose to work with people who agreed with his ideas. Together, they made many changes to the federal government. These included:

  • lowering the national debt.
  • cutting military spending.
  • cutting the number of government workers to only a few hundred.
  • getting rid of most federal taxes.

The government still needed money, though. Jefferson’s government got money from two sources:

  • customs duties (taxes on imported goods).
  • selling land in the West.

Before Jefferson became President, Congress passed a law called the Judiciary Act of 1801. This act set up a system of courts. President Adams moved fast. He appointed, or chose, hundreds of people to be judges in these new courts. Adams used these appointments to keep Jefferson from choosing judges. In this way, Adams made sure the Federalists controlled the courts.

There was a problem, though. These people could not become judges until they got special papers. Some of the judges Adams appointed did not receive their papers before Jefferson became president. Jefferson told Secretary of State James Madison not to deliver them.

One judge who did not receive his papers was William Marbury. Marbury wanted to get his papers. He took his case to the Supreme Court. The court decided it did not have the jurisdiction—the legal power—to force Madison to deliver the papers. This case was called Marbury v. Madison.

Marbury v. Madison was a very important case. It set up the three principles of judicial review. Principles are basic ideas.

The head of the Supreme Court was Chief Justice John Marshall. Marshall wrote the court’s opinion. In it he said:

  • The Constitution is the supreme, or highest, law in the country.
  • If the Constitution says one thing and another law says something else, people have to follow the Constitution.
  • The judicial branch (courts) can say laws are unconstitutional.

Marbury v. Madison made the Supreme Court more powerful. Chief Justice Marshall made the Supreme Court stronger in other cases, too. This chart shows three of these cases. It also shows the effect of each case.

Case Effect
McCulloch v. Maryland Congress can do more than the Constitution specifically says it can do. States cannot tax the federal government.
Gibbons v. Ogden Federal law takes priority over state law when more than one state is involved.
Worcester v. Georgia States cannot make rules about Native Americans. Only the federal government can.

With these decisions, Chief Justice Marshall also strengthened the federal government and weakened the states.


Section 2: The Louisiana Purchase (p. 272-277)

Westward, Ho!

The Mississippi River was the western boundary of the United States in 1800. The area west of the river was called the Louisiana Territory. The Louisiana Territory went west to the Rocky Mountains. It went south to New Orleans. It did not have a clear border to the north.

In the early 1800s, many Americans moved west and were called pioneers. Many pioneers were farmers and travel was very difficult. Settlers often traveled in wagons. Two important possessions were rifles and axes.

Spain controlled the area west of the Mississippi, including New Orleans. Spain allowed Americans to use the Mississippi and the port of New Orleans for their trade.

In 1802, Spain suddenly stopped letting settlers trade in New Orleans. President Jefferson learned that France and Spain had a secret agreement. France was going to gain control of the Louisiana Territory. He worried that this French control of the Mississippi would hurt U.S. trade.

Robert Livingston represented the U.S. government in France. Congress gave Livingston permission to buy New Orleans and West Florida from France.

Napoleon Bonaparte, the French leader, wanted to rule much of Europe and North America. Napoleon wanted to use the Caribbean island of Santo Domingo as a naval base. It was important to his plan to rule in North America.

Napoleon’s plan did not work. Enslaved Africans and other workers in Santo Domingo revolted and claimed independence. By 1804, the French had been forced out of Santo Domingo.

An Expanding Nation

Without Santo Domingo, Napoleon did not want Louisiana. Also, he needed money to pay for his war against Britain. To get money, he decided to sell the Louisiana Territory.

Robert Livingston and James Monroe wanted to buy New Orleans and West Florida. A French official said they could buy all of the Louisiana Territory. They worried they did not have the power to make that decision. In spite of their worry, Livingston and Monroe decided it was too good a chance to miss. They agreed to pay $15 million for the land.

Even Jefferson was not sure he had the authority to buy the Louisiana Territory. The Constitution did not say anything about buying new land. Jefferson decided his right to make treaties allowed him to buy the land. The Senate okayed the purchase in October 1803. The new land doubled the size of the United States.

Having this new territory was good because

  • it provided a large amount of new land for farmers.
  • it protected shipping on the Mississippi River.

Americans did not know much about the new territory. Jefferson wanted to learn more about it. Congress agreed to send a group to explore the new land.

The group had several goals. They were supposed to

  • collect information about the land.
  • learn about plants and animals.
  • suggest sites for forts.
  • find a Northwest Passage, or a water route across North America to Asia.

Jefferson chose Meriwether Lewis to lead the expedition. Lewis’s co-leader was William Clark. Both men were interested in science and had done business with Native Americans.

The group left St. Louis and traveled about 4,000 miles to the Pacific. What they found encouraged people to want to move westward.

Zebulon Pike led two expeditions where he brought back information about the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains.

Federalists in the northeast worried about the country growing in the west. They were afraid they would lose power. One group of Federalists planned to secede, or leave, the nation. They decided they needed New York in order to be successful. They asked Aaron Burr to help them, and he agreed.

Alexander Hamilton heard Burr had agreed to help the Federalists secede. He accused Burr of treason. Burr said Hamilton’s accusation hurt Burr’s political career. To get even, he challenged Hamilton to a duel. Burr shot Hamilton, and Hamilton died the next day. Burr ran away so he would not be arrested.


Section 3: A Time of Conflict (p. 278-284)

American Ships on the High Seas

U.S. shipping grew in the late 1700s. People sailed to China and other parts of the world, hoping to make money. At the same time, France and Britain were at war. Their merchant ships stayed home so they would not be captured. This gave American merchants less competition.

In 1804 Great Britain and France were still at war. The United States stayed neutral (not take sides in the war). American ships had neutral rights. They could sail the seas freely and trade with both Britain and France.

By 1805 things changed. Britain did not want the U.S. ships trading with France, and France did not want them trading with Britain. Britain stopped and searched any ship that traded with France. France searched any ship that traded with Britain. This hurt U.S. shipping.

The British also needed sailors for the war. Many sailors had deserted – left their ships – because life in the British navy was so terrible. To find these sailors, British ships began to stop and search American ships. They made the sailors come back to the British Navy. They also took American sailors and forced them to serve on British ships in a practice called impressment.

Americans were very angry. Even though many Americans wanted war with Britain, Jefferson did not. Jefferson asked Congress to pass the Embargo Act. Congress passed this law in December 1807. The embargo stopped U.S. ships from trading with any other countries.

The Embargo Act failed. People who worked in shipping lost their jobs, and farmers lost markets for their crops. Congress ended the Embargo Act in 1809 and replaced it with the Nonintercourse Act. The new law only stopped trade with Britain and France and also failed.

Like Washington before him, Jefferson did not run for a third term. In 1808, the candidates were:

  • For the Republicans – James Madison
  • For the Federalists – Charles Pinckney 

People were angry about the embargo. Federalists hoped this anger would make people vote for Pinckney. Still, Madison easily won the election.

War at Home and Abroad

When James Madison became president, he faced three big problems:

  • The embargo hurt the economy, so people were angry.
  • Britain kept stopping American ships.
  • In the West, tension with Native Americans grew.

In 1810, Congress said it would stop the embargo with the country that lifted its trade ban. Napoleon said France would allow open trade with the United States.

Even though trade started again, the French kept taking American ships. The United States was about to go to war. Was the enemy Britain or France? Madison thought Britain was more dangerous to the United States.

Madison also had problems in the western United States. White settlers wanted more land but that land had been given to Native Americans so tensions grew.

Frustrated Native Americans tried two things:

  • They talked to the British in Canada about working together.
  • They joined with other Native American groups.

Tecumseh was a Shawnee chief who got several Native American groups to work together to protect their land rights. He also wanted Native Americans to work with the British. He thought that together they could stop settlers from moving into Native American lands.

Tecumseh’s brother, the Prophet, told Native Americans to go back to their old ways. He founded Prophetstown in Indiana near the Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers.

William Henry Harrison was governor of the Indiana Territory. He worried about the power of Tecumseh and the Prophet. He was afraid they would join forces with the British. Harrison attacked Prophetstown and won. This was called the Battle of Tippecanoe.

Americans claimed the Battle of Tippecanoe as a great victory but convinced Tecumseh to join forces with the British.

A group of young Republicans called the War Hawks wanted war with Britain. They wanted the United States to be more powerful. Many Americans liked the War Hawks’ nationalism, or loyalty to their country.

In 1812, Madison asked Congress to declare war on Britain. In the meantime, the British had decided to stop searching American ships. By the time American leaders learned of the change, it was too late. The United States had already declared war on Britain.


Section 4: The War of 1812 (p. 285-289)

Defeats and Victories

The War Hawks thought the United States would defeat Britain quickly, but America was not ready for war.

The war began in July 1812. It began with two failures:

  • General William Hull led the American army from Detroit to Canada. They met Tecumseh and his forces. Hull surrendered Detroit.
  • General William Henry Harrison also tried to invade Canada. He did not succeed either.

Harrison said the United States would not succeed in the north while the British controlled Lake Erie.

The navy was stronger than the army. U.S. privateers – armed private ships – captured many British ships.

Oliver Hazard Perry led a fleet of American ships to get control of Lake Erie. His ships destroyed the British fleet. Americans controlled Lake Erie.

The British and Native Americans tried to pull back from the Detroit area. Harrison and his troops cut them off. They fought the Battle of the Thames. The Americans also attacked York, in Canada, and burned several government buildings. The British still held control of Canada, but the United States had won several victories.

Tecumseh was killed in the Battle of the Thames. Before the battle, he had asked the Creeks in the Mississippi Territory to join his confederation. After he died, the confederation never formed, and the Native American alliance with the British ended.

In March 1814, Andrew Jackson attacked the Creeks. He and his forces killed more than 550 Creek people in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. After this defeat, the Creeks gave up most of their land.

The British Offensive

When the War of 1812 started, the British were still at war with France. In 1814, they won that war. This made it possible for them to send more troops to fight in America.

In August 1814, the British arrived in Washington, D.C. They quickly defeated the American militia. They burned and wrecked much of the city. Americans were surprised when the British did not try to hold the city. Instead they left Washington, D.C., and headed to Baltimore. They attacked Baltimore in September 1814 but were not able to overcome the city’s defenses.

Francis Scott Key watched the bombs exploding over Fort McHenry on September 13. The next morning he saw the American flag still flying over the fort. It inspired him to write the poem “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In 1931, this became the national anthem.

After the Battle of Lake Champlain, the British decided to stop fighting. The war cost too much, and there was little to gain from it.

In December 1814, representatives from the United States and Britain signed a peace treaty in Ghent, Belgium. The Treaty of Ghent ended the war, but it did not:

  • change borders.
  • end impressment of sailors.
  • mention neutral rights.

In January 1815, before people in the United States knew about the treaty, British troops moved to attack New Orleans. Andrew Jackson and his troops were ready for them. Hundreds of British soldiers died.

The Battle of New Orleans was a clear victory for the Americans. Andrew Jackson became a famous hero. His fame helped him become president in the election of 1828.

Pride in America grew with the success in the war. After the war, many people thought the Federalist complaints were unpatriotic. They lost respect for the Federalists, and the party grew weaker.

As the Federalists grew weaker, the War Hawks grew stronger. The War Hawks took control of the Republican Party. They wanted five things:

  • trade
  • more settlement in the West
  • fast growth of the economy
  • a strong national government
  • a strong army and navy

After the War of 1812, Americans had great pride in their country. Other countries had more respect for the United States, too.