The Constitution “understood”
Essay title: The Constitution “understood”
The Jeffersonian-Republicans are characterized by their strict interpretation of the constitution, in stark contrast with the Federalists loose or broad interpretation. The Federalists believed that anything the constitution did not forbid it permitted, contrary to the Jeffersonian view that anything it did not permit it forbade. The Federalists advocated the “necessary” and “proper” clause, and their faith rested heavily in the virtue of implied powers. The Jeffersonian party believed that all powers not specifically granted to the central government were reserved to the states, disregarding the implication of inferred powers. In the late 1700’s both Jefferson and Madison organized an opposition to Hamilton, a federalist. During Jefferson and Madison’s presidencies, the strict constructionism on which they based their growing party remained evident.
The Jeffersonian-Republicans were strong supporters of states rights; they believed that these rights were jeopardized by a strong central government. Thomas Jefferson expresses this concern when talking with a future member of his cabinet, Gideon Granger. He commences “I believe we shall obtain…a majority in the legislature of the United States, attached to the preservation of the federal constitution” . Preserving the federal constitution means upholding it “according to its obvious principles and those on which it was known to be received” . This emphasizes Jefferson’s strong belief in a “literal” constitution opposed to an “implied” constitution. Jefferson goes on to say that “our country can never be harmonious and solid while so respectable a portion of its citizens support principles which go directly to a change of the federal Constitution” . This is a direct reference to the supporters of the Federalist Party and its “loose” interpretation of the nation’s charter. In this statement Jefferson expresses a belief that the Federalist Party is threatening the Union.
One of the major aspects of the Federalist argument is that anything not forbade in the Constitution is permitted, while the Republicans commend the contrary. Jefferson displays his support for the latter, while speaking with, Presbyterian minister, Samuel Miller. Regarding the governments intermeddling in religious institutions he proclaims “no power to prescribe any religious exercise, or to assume authority in religious discipline, has been delegated to the general government” . This further shows his support of the states and their rights; he goes on to say “it must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority…” .
James Madison, as did Jefferson, supported states rights. Similar to the issue of government