President Thomas Jefferson took office in 1800 which marked the first time a different political party in America took control of the executive branch. His presidency is marked with differing views.
There will be many that rank him as one of the best Presidents of all time and some consider him a hypocrite who caused depression and took credit for John Adams’ accomplishments.
President Thomas Jefferson: First Term Timeline
March 4, 1801: Thomas Jefferson was the first president to be inaugurated in Washington D.C. In his Inaugural Address he promises a frugal government that would be dedicated to the fiscal economy.
May 14, 1801: Tripoli declares war on the United States after Jefferson refuses to pay tribute that exceeded the $80,000 agreed to by treaty. The United States never officially declares war but Jefferson sends a naval squadron to the Mediterranean Sea on May 20. The conflict does not end until 1805 when Tripoli agrees to give the United States open access to the Mediterranean Sea without the tribute.
February 6, 1802: Once opposed to its creation, Jefferson allows the creation of the United States Military Academy, also known as West Point.
March 8, 1802: Congress repeals the Judiciary Act of 1801. It restores the number of Supreme Court Justices to six, schedules one term per year for the high court, and establishes six circuit courts, each one headed by a Supreme Court Justice.
May 3, 1802: Washington D.C. is incorporated as a city and the President gets to appoint the mayor.
October 16, 1802: The Spanish administrator of New Orleans bans American vessels from the port of New Orleans. While it was Spain’s administrator making the decision, it was France pulling the strings. Jefferson instructs Robert Livingston, minister to France, to negotiate for land on the lower Mississippi River or an irrevocable guarantee of free trade and trade rights in New Orleans.
January 12, 1803: He sends James Monroe to France with instructions to purchase Louisiana and West Florida from France for $2 million. Jefferson also lobbies for Congress to allow him to send a westward expedition to explore and improve their relations with the Native Americans.
February 24, 1803: The Supreme Court established the power of the judiciary to overrule congressional law in the case of Marbury vs. Madison.
April 11, 1803: France’s minister Talleyrand approaches Robert Livingston and asks if the United States would be willing to purchase the Louisiana Territory from them. Napoleon had run into problems with putting down a slave rebellion in Haiti and decided to only focus on a conquest of Europe. By the end of the month, the United States owned the Louisiana Territory.
August 31, 1803: The Lewis and Clark Expedition set out on the Ohio River and begin their journey. Their writings and findings would lead to rapid growth and expansion.
December 12, 1803: Congress passes the Twelfth Amendment, which establishes the casting of separate votes for President and Vice President. Previously, voters would only vote for the President and the Vice President would be the person who finished 2nd.
February 16, 1804: Lieutenant Stephen Decatur destroys the frigate Philadelphia which had been captured and converted into a warship by Tripolitan Pirates.
February 25, 1804: Jefferson unanimously wins a second term as President.
President Thomas Jefferson: 2nd Term Timeline
March 4, 1805: Thomas Jefferson delivers his second inaugural address.
July 23, 1805: A British judge rules that British naval ships have the right to seize American merchant ships unless the owner of the ship can prove its destination was an American port. This led to the British Impressment of American mariners and would be a cause of the War of 1812. The decision was known as the Essex Decision.
August 9, 1805: Zebulon Pike begins an expedition to explore the Mississippi River. He explores Colorado and New Mexico. During his expedition, he discovers a mountain that became known as Pike’s Peak in Colorado.
January 23, 1806: The Senate passes a resolution condemning British Impressment of American Seamen. Tensions between the two countries continue to escalate.
April 18, 1806: Great Britain ignores the complaints from America and Impressment continues to occur. Congress passes a Non-Importation Act that bans a large number of British goods from the American market.
November 21, 1806: Napoleon issues the Berlin Decree that begins a total blockade of the British Isles. This decree authorizes the seizure of all ships and cargo headed for Britain. This included American ships.
December 31, 1806: Jefferson began t pursue peace with Great Britain. In the spring of 1806, James Monroe and William Pinkney begin to negotiate a treaty with Great Britain that would end impressment and renew trade. The terms that Monroe and Pinkney would agree to would be so weak that Jefferson would never submit it to Congress.
March 3, 1807: Congress enacts the Insurrection Act of 1807.
June 22, 1807: The British frigate Leopard fired on the American frigate Chesapeake after the Americans refused to allow the British to search their ship for deserters. It became known as the Chesapeake-Leopard Incident. In response, Jefferson orders all British warships to leave American waters. In response, the British increased the impressment of American sailors.
December 17-21, 1807: Jefferson recommends that Congress pass the Embargo Act. The act decimates the American economy and does nothing to Great Britain and France. British merchants no longer had to compete with American merchants and Napoleon begins capturing American ships that arrive in a port he controlled claiming that they were British ships. This creates a large smuggling ring throughout America.
January 1, 1808: Congress bans the African slave trade. Despite the ban, the illegal slave trade continued until the Civil War.
January 9: 1809: Jefferson pushes the Enforcement Act through Congress which only serves to anger the Northern States. Its design was to force compliance of the Embargo Act, but the states refused to supply the Federal government with the necessary militia to enforce it.
February 20, 1809: Chief Justice John Marshall reasserts the power of the federal government over the states with his decision in the U.S. vs Peters.
March 15, 1809: Congress repeals the Embargo Act as it did not help American Foreign policy and only managed to destroy much of the American economy. They would pass the Non-Intercourse Act which allowed trade with all countries except Britain and France.