Many Jeffersonian Republicans – especially younger ones – ceased worrying whether the war would corrupt the republic. Rather they were convinced that is must absorb the shock of violent conflict to prove its worth. They further insisted that the republic held untapped sources of strength that adequately prepared it to meet this challenge. This “ energized” republicanism of young Jeffersonian drew nourishment from the values of enterprise, ambition, productive growth, and self-made success endemic to liberalizing change in the early 19th-century republic. As Virginia Congressman John Clopton told his constituents in 1812, it was vitality of the young republic – not its delicate, pacific tendencies – that had excited British commercial attacks.
“ The prospect of these immense [American] resources rapidly multiplying, and under the auspices of a vigorous, active spirit of enterprise pushed into operation, ” he wrote, “ alarmed the pride and jealousy of that [British] government. ” The colliding republican strategies for the survival of the young nation – the older “ enlightened” design and the newer “ energized” one – can be seen in the early 19th century struggles of a quartet of Republicans.
The two older statesmen of the set strove to utilize the “ pacific genius” of the American republic to avoid a deadly war with the European powers. In contrast, the two younger politicians agitated for recognition and mobilization of America’ s Republican strength. They envisioned war as a bracing exercise for a growing and vibrant republican society, as a realization of its political potential. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison had led the Republican “ revolution of 1800,” a crusade which they perceived as a restoration of republican principles to American government after the Federalist interregnum.
Along with Albert Gallatin – the third member of the Republican leadership triumvirate – the new President and his Secretary of State sought to establish policies that would realize their vision of the virtuous republic.
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