Jean Yarbrough responds

She says:  I would like to suggest that you re-think your comment that TJ “feared and loathed” the power of the federal government. He did, after all, support the Constitution. What he feared was the exercise of energetic national power when directed by the Federalists, whom he suspected (wrongly) of trying to lead Americans back to monarchy. Moreover, he was not without scruples in acquiring Louisiana; in fact, he believed the purchase had to be ratified by constitutional amendment, and only dropped this plan when persuaded that the delay might jeopardize the entire treaty.

So, I’m rethinking. . .

UPDATE:  Adam comments:  “But I know that you don’t entirely agree with what she said. Though you know when you’re outgunned (in terms of sheer study and research), I’d still like to hear more of how you would respond to her comment.”

How could he know all that?

Actually, I’m not sure I disagree with Yarbrough.  In fact, I’m not sure we can tell where Jefferson stood on many strategic issues – not just because sometimes he stood both here and there, but also because his command of English prose was such that he could offer different meanings to different readers.  Not unlike the Bible, and just as rich in interpretations.

But what the heck.  I don’t think Jefferson would have bought off on the Constitution if he’d been living in Virginia rather than Paris.  Madison sold him on it – he trusted Madison, and Madison owned the Constitution.

And it’s certainly not proveable, but I believe Jefferson would have purchased Louisiana in disregard of every last one of his republican principles – he was, at that moment at least, American President first, Virginia republican second.


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