• Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Constitution
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    Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Constitution

    One of the things that inevitably comes up when we’re talking about the Louisiana Purchase is that Jefferson betrayed his strict constructionist principles when he purchased Louisiana – that he had to stretch out the constitution a little bit more than he did before he became president. Of course, if you’re taking a standardized test, note that this controversy exists, but I think this is largely a controversy of Jefferson’s own making. When France offered to sell us Louisiana, the first thing that Jefferson did is he went to the Constitution and he’s looking for some very specific language. As a strict constructionist, he wants to see, ideally, something in…

  • Executive Power & the Louisiana Purchase
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    Executive Power & the Louisiana Purchase

    I think without a doubt, the Louisiana Purchase is one of the great turning points in American history. It’s hard to imagine the country succeeding the way it has without purchasing Louisiana. The Louisiana Purchase was the result of a treaty negotiated by Robert Livingston and James Monroe with, ah, Napoleon of France that gave the United States possession of a swath of territory that would cause us to double in size for $15,000,000, about three cents an acre. It was originally supposed to be the Louisiana Purchase because that’s all that Thomas Jefferson wanted, but the French, for a variety of reasons, offered this almost literally incredible deal. One…

  • James Madison: Father of the Constitution (1809 – 1817)
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    James Madison: Father of the Constitution (1809 – 1817)

    Hey it’s Professor Dave; let’s talk about James Madison. Though James Madison stood a mere five foot four, and only 100 pounds, he was an American Colossus, a Founding Father of both the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Along with Thomas Jefferson he co-founded the Democratic-Republican Party, he served as Jefferson’s Secretary of State, supervised the Louisiana Purchase, and was the President of the United States during the War of 1812, which saw the emergence of the United States as a world power. Madison would frequently change his political views during his life. He favored a strong national government at the Constitutional Convention yet rejected calls for a Bill of…