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Thomas Jefferson: Domestic Affairs

The first order of business for Thomas Jefferson as President was to establish a "wise and frugal Government.” He wanted a government that would respect the authority of individual states, operate with a smaller bureaucracy, and cut its debts. Jefferson also felt that the country should eliminate Hamilton's standing army by relying on a "disciplined militia" for defense against invasion. Most importantly, he believed that good government would promote "the encouragement of agriculture." Commerce, in his mind, should be the "handmaiden" of agriculture rather than its driving force.

He reduced, though not substantially, the 316 employees subject to presidential appointment while leaving intact most of the nation's clerks and postal workers. The Army was cut to two regiments, with similar reductions in the Navy. He pressured Congress to abolish the direct tax of 1798 and to repeal the Alien and Sedition Acts. To emphasize his opposition to the acts, Jefferson pardoned the ten victims of those laws still in prison. Even after paying $15 million in cash for the Louisiana Purchase, the national debt fell from $80 million to $57 million during his two years of service.


Source: Thomas Jefferson: Domestic Affairs
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