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Jefferson, Thomas (Administration)

The Jefferson presidency was characterized by economic difficulties from the Napoleonic Wars. Social policy was not part of the responsibilities of the presidency in the early republic, but expansion of U.S. territory with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 provided possibilities for private land ownership. Debates on social and human rights issues, such as slavery and Indian territories, related to wealth distribution and therefore to questions concerning poverty. Jefferson’s economical eclecticism linked a sort of agrarian nostalgia with free trade and a distrust for industrialization and banking, whereby social mobility should be provided by general access to education. Within the Jeffersonian political thinking, poverty played a role, but took a backseat to more fundamental questions of organizing the new republic, and limiting central power vis-à-vis the ...

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