07 Feb 2010

Sample Essay: AP US History DBQ


In the early 1800’s, Jeffersonian Republicans believed that the authority of the Federal government was based on a strict constitution. What was stated in the constitution was supposed to be strictly adhered to. The Federalists on the other hand believed in a loose and broader interpretation of the constitution. They could easily get to make decisions that were not supported by the constitution. This granted the government with more authority than it had within the constitution. Despite these differing views by the Jeffersonian republicans as compared to the Federalists, the characteristics on the interpretation of the constitution became contrary to what they were deemed to be during the presidencies of Jefferson and Madison. It is in the era of these two presidents that the Jeffersonian Republicans opted for a loose interpretation of the constitution and the Federalists leaned towards a more strict interpretation of the constitution.

In many ways, President Jefferson and the Jefferson republicans swayed of from the policies of the republicans. At one time President Jefferson was a strict adherent to the constitution as stated in document A where he asserts that the theory of the constitution is the wisest. Later on though, He went against the constitution when he made the Louisiana Purchase. The constitution did not allow the president to purchase any land and by doing that He was behaving like a federalist. It is still evident of the wayward behavior of the republicans when he stated as in document F that the constitution should be changed to go on with the advancing man’s mind. From the three episodes we can evidently watch the changing characters of the Republican government. As stated in the constitution the government was not supposed to pass any trade embargo for a certain period of time but Jefferson withdrew trade from Europe after USA sailors were attacked. This vehemently attacked the European economy. Document F also supports our assertion of failed policies when we find that the government has increased some powers to the congress so that they could regulate tax.

On the other hand we had opposing ideas during the era of President Madison. Being Federalists, they in most times favored a loose constitution though this at times faltered. One of the times that they really got unlike federalists is like in document E where we can see changes being imposed in the constitution. It was anyway in their right to have a loose constitution. At times they however did not follow the federalist policies like in the Louisiana Purchase. At this time they became strict adherents to the constitution to a point of restricting the purchase. Some times during the Madison’s presidency, he strictly adhered to the constitution when he refused to sign a bill on building roads and canals. He strictly stated that the constitution did not state in any clause that the power set aside for regulation of commerce was not the same which meant that the roads and canals should be built. In contrary to the previous belief of republicans behaving otherwise, they totally rejected the war of 1812 between the British and the Americans. They all joined forces in rejecting the war which they later tried to take advantage of. This is clear when they elected Clinton to represent them in the presidential race but they came later to lose to Madison. It is also evident about the strict adherence of the federalists to the constitution.


As it can be gotten from the above excerpts, it is clear that there was an evident behavior among the Jefferson republicans and the times of the Madison’s presidency. The Jefferson’s presidency was supposed to be limited to strict adherence to the constitution but contrary we can see places where the Jefferson and the Jefferson republicans are going to the opposite side of the constitution and opt to support areas which are not at all conversant or in line with the constitution. On the other hand, the Madison’s government is behaving in federalistic ways as much as otherwise was expected. There are times when we can see them strictly adhering to the constitution as we can assert from the signing of the Hartford convention. We therefore support the assertion that for both parties it was extremely hard for someone to determine who true republicans were and who were supposed to be true supporters of federalism.

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