The Jeffersonian Vision, 1801-1815


The Jeffersonian Vision, 1801-1815

The Art of American Power During the Early Republic

William Nester

294 pages


January 2013


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
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January 2013


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

The Jeffersonian Vision, 1801–1815, reveals how the nation’s leaders understood and asserted power during those crucial years between Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration as the third president and the firing of the last shots at the Battle of New Orleans. Seeking to overcome the bitter political animosities that had plagued the years leading up to his presidency, Jefferson declared in his inaugural address that “we are all Federalists, we are all Republicans.” His words proved to be prescient. The Republican Party, soon to be renamed the Democratic Party, would dominate American politics for another half century. Most Americans laud Jefferson’s presidency for the purchase of the Louisiana Territory, which extended the United States westward to the Rocky Mountains, and for the launch of the Lewis and Clark expedition, which journeyed to the Pacific Ocean and back. But critics then and since have blasted Jefferson and his immediate successor, James Madison, for a series of ideologically driven blunders. Jefferson envisioned a largely autarkic nation with yeoman farmers serving as its economic and political backbone. That notion was at odds with an America whose wealth was increasingly gleaned from foreign markets. The Republican policy of wielding partial or complete trade embargos as a diplomatic weapon repeatedly backfired, inflicting grievous damage on America’s economy and culminating with an unnecessary war with Britain that was devastating to America’s power and wealth, if not its honor. Despite their philosophical and political differences, Federalists and Republicans alike proved capable enough at the art of power when they headed the nation. They implemented a spectrum of mostly appropriate means, first to win independence and then to consolidate and eventually expand American wealth and territory. Readers today will recognize the roots of red state/blue state conflict in these earliest competing visions of the roots of American power—and of what America might be.

Author Bio

William Nester is a professor in the Department of Government and Politics at St. John's University in New York City. He is the award-winning author of thirty-seven books on multiple dimensions of international relations, American national security, military history, and the nature of power. His "George Rogers Clark: I Glory in War" won the Army Historical Foundation's best biography award for 2013. His "Titan: The Art of British Power in the Age of Revolution and Napoleon" won the New York Military Affairs Symposium's 2016 Arthur Goodzett Book Award.


"The Jeffersonian Vision is a solid and concise narrative of the Jefferson age."—Timothy C. Hemmis, H-War

“In continuing his laudable Art of American Power series, William Nester rubs the sheen off two of America’s most famous founding fathers and shows that as presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison naively engaged in economic and political policies that proved far more deadly to American interests than the armies and navies of its foes. Much more than a history lesson, there are strong warnings here for the present as Nester reminds us that a nation’s ultimate foundation of power is its economy. An insightful portrait of the early missteps of American foreign policy.”—Walter R. Borneman, author of 1812: The War That Forged a Nation