How Did Jefferson Simplify the Federal Government?

President Thomas Jefferson simplified the United States Federal government by delegating administration and legislation to the individual states. It was his belief that the Federal government should be a little more than a navy and a post office.

Thomas Jefferson was raised among the planter-class elite in mid-18th century Virginia. He and his political colleagues believed that the creation and execution of civilian laws should be the responsibility of state legislators and governors. As a politician and a diplomat, Jefferson combated the strong Federalist ideals of John Adams, Alexander Hamilton and even George Washington. In 1793, Jefferson resigned from Washington’s cabinet due to conflict with other cabinet secretaries on the issues of state rights and limited federal control of the government.

In 1796, Jefferson became leader of the Democratic-Republicans, a political party based on an anti-Federalist platform. After four years as John Adams' vice president, Jefferson became president and used his executive authority to minimize the national government’s military and administrative budgets.

While Jefferson simplified the federal government by limiting its power, he also left the nation in financial crisis. He decreased federal taxes and opposed the institution of the Federal Bank. Then he purchased the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France, in 1803 and enforced an embargo on French and English merchants in 1807 that crippled the American economy.