Jefferson’s Foreign Policy


US History The Early Republic Jefferson's Foreign Policy
Students learn about Thomas Jefferson's foreign policies, including the causes and effects of the Barbary Wars and the conflicts surrounding the Embargo Act of 1807. Then, they evaluate political cartoons depicting the Embargo Act.

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Overview

In this experience, students learn about Thomas Jefferson’s foreign policies, including the causes and effects of the Barbary Wars and the conflicts surrounding the Embargo Act of 1807. Then, they evaluate political cartoons depicting the Embargo Act.

Students will collaborate in small groups for scene 2 through scene 4.

Objective:

  • Explain Jefferson’s foreign policy, including conflict with Barbary States, threats to U.S. neutrality, and the Embargo Act.


During Thomas Jefferson’s presidency, it was his goal to limit the powers of the federal government. But, at the same time he had to deal with troubling foreign affairs that pushed him toward Federalist policies that went against his political beliefs.

Objective:

  • Explain Jefferson’s foreign policy, including conflict with Barbary States, threats to U.S. neutrality, and the Embargo Act.




Thomas Jefferson


Recall the policies of the Federalists. List a reason why Jefferson was opposed to them. If someone has already posted that reason, try to think of a different one.



Discuss with students some of the responses they have posted. Students may recall that the Federalists believed that there should be a strong central government that made most of the decisions for the nation. Jefferson believed that the states should have more rights and that individuals should be able to make decisions independent of government authority.


The first major international conflict during Jefferson’s presidency arose in the Mediterranean Sea where Barbary pirates had been bribing Western nations in order to guarantee the safety of their merchant ships. When the Barbary States increased their demand for money, Jefferson refused to pay.

Another conflict that troubled Jefferson was the seizing of American ships by the British navy and impressment (imprisonment) of American sailors. In response to these attacks, Jefferson ordered an embargo, which banned all British and French ships from U.S. ports. This Embargo Act devastated the U.S. economy and caused an economic crisis.


Divide students into their small groups for the next three scenes. When everyone is ready to continue, unlock the next scene.

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The Complete List of Learning Experiences in The Early Republic Unit.
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