The Differing Views of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison on Foreign Policy

Topics: Foreign Policy

Jefferson and Madison: A Perspective Revealed

Foreign policy greatly affected Britain between Madison and Jefferson, especially when they had two different viewpoints. Washington was the first President of the United States, and he knew that America was poor, inexperienced, and needed time for expansion. He wanted to make sure that America did not get involved in political foreign affairs because it would only cause more havoc. Adams, the president that took after Washington, tried to remain neutral, but he only ended up in a war with France as well as the XYZ affair, which was a bribe to America from three people known as X, Y, and Z.

This caused Adams to wage war by raising taxes for the buildup of the American army and navy. During Jefferson’s time, however, he was more involved with the political affairs of Britain and France, thus causing him to be in conflict.

Madison was the opposite of Jefferson because he was the father of the Constitution and became the first president to face enemy power.

Foreign policy was more effective under Madison and Jefferson because Washington tried to remain neutral while Madison went to war with Britain, Britain was cut off from trade under Jefferson through the Embargo Acts, and Jay’s Treaty signed by Washington smoothened the disputes but hurt the Americans as well.

First, foreign policy had a greater effect under Washington and Adams because Jay’s Treaty signed by Washington smoothened disputes but also hurt the Americans. Jay’s Treaty was signed by Washington after the Revolutionary War to settle disputes and regulate trade with Britain.

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However, many people were against Jay’s Treaty because people of the United States felt surrendered and dependent on Britain. People against Jay’s Treaty were against Washington.

America had to pay the merchants continuously for the Revolutionary War, but the main purpose of Jay’s Treaty was to stop impressing soldiers. That situation was never truly resolved, and that made Great Britain even more powerful and prevailing (document B). Jay’s Treaty was considered to be “…injurious to outhe r lawful commerce and endangering the lives of our citizens” because of the fact America was tied to Britain and did not feel free (document D)

Foreign policy became more effective under Jefferson because Britain was cut off from trade under Washington through the Embargo Act of 1807. The Embargo Act of 1807 completely isolated America from any trade whatsoever. This caused America to industrialize, but Britain was enraged and doing poorly. They could not sell any goods and were forced to keep their goods. Even though the Embargo Act could make England treat America better, government isolation causes more trouble than already expected (document G). That is what exactly happens later on during Madison’s time when Madison declares war on Britain, the United Kingdom, and Ireland (Document I). Lastly, the foreign policy proved more effective with Washington because Washington tried to remain neutral while Madison went to war with Britain. Washington’s motto during his presidency was to not get involved with any wars going on in Europe, and if any group or person did, America would not offer any help. In addition, he told officers to prosecute those who interfered in foreign political affairs (document A). Washington believed that foreign countries were only there for trade and little or no political interferences (document C). Madison, however, was different because he was involved in political affairs with Britain because of the Embargo Act. When Britain got enraged, Madison reacted by declaring war on them. This affected Britain greatly because America was to use their whole land and naval force and private armed vessels to defeat Britain (the document I). numberount of weapons and defense used threatened Britain, and this caused Britain to lose the war, making America independent.

Although Washington hurt Britain indirectly, he did not do much compared to Jefferson and Madison, who passed the Embargo Act and declared war on Britain, respectively.

Washington was a president of great pride, who was a general in the Revolutionary War. He changed America great, but he did not change Britain and France because he tried to stay unbiased, which only made things worse. Jay’s Treaty under Washington was an unpopular treaty in which America felt surrendered and forced to trade with Britain. Adams was not an expert at settling disputes because he angered France for breaking the Franco-American alliance of 1778. After all,merica was aiding France’s enemy. America was stuck between two sides, and it was almost impossible to remain neutral because there was a tug-of-war between France and Britain.

Madison was in favor of owning great honor and independence for his country, and Jefferson was also in favor of cutting Britain out of the picture. In the end, because of the “reign” of Jefferson and Madison, Britain and France were unsuccessful in completely allying with America because it only ended with more conflicts, but it led to the liberation of America.

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The Differing Views of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison on Foreign Policy. (2022, Jun 16). Retrieved from

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