The Age of Jefferson

March 4th, 1801, was a remarkable day in both the history of America and the history of the world. On that day, Thomas Jefferson took the Oath of Office and became the 3rd President of the United States of America.

Why is this so remarkable? Jefferson was a leader of the Republican party. John Adams, the man Jefferson was replacing, was a Federalist. Throughout its long history the world had rarely seen the peaceful transfer of ruling power from one political group to another. That Adams could hand the reins of power to his opponent in the election and walk peacefully into retirement was a sure sign that the new Constitution would work, that the United States would survive, and that, contrary to what had been believed throughout most of world history, a group of people could rule themselves though the fair election of their own government.

On taking office, President Jefferson set out almost immediately to make changes. Following the philosophy of his Republican party, Jefferson wanted to reduce the size of the national government, and thereby lower the amount of money needed to run the government. With the threat of war with France ended, Jefferson ordered cuts in the size of the army and navy. He worked to have the excise tax on whiskey removed, and brought an end to the Alien and Sedition Acts. Some historians have referred to these many changes as "the Revolution of 1800."

The Age of Jefferson was off to a roaring start. And yet, before long, new threats from the nations of Europe would cause new problems for our third President.