Who Can Claim a Jeffersonian Heritage?
The front-page story, "Jefferson's Political Heirs Gather in New York City," July 13, is incomplete in its analysis of the Democratic Party as the philosophical descendant of Thomas Jefferson. The anti-Federalist party founded by Jefferson was known as the Democratic-Republican party, and split in two after the election of 1824. The National-Republicans, as one faction was called, were supporters of John Quincy Adams. As a party, they fell apart within a decade. The other faction, the Democratic Party, w as comprised of Andrew Jackson's followers, and is the same party we have today.
Jefferson was a firm believer in personal liberties and rights, and was not a supporter of big business. In that sense, the modern Democratic Party espouses some of Jefferson's values.
However, the Democratic Party has long been the party of big government, especially since the New Deal programs of Franklin Roosevelt. Jefferson believed in small government, and also believed that the federal government has only those powers specifically given to it by the Constitution. The Republican party has historically been the party of small government.
Both the Democratic and Republican parties have a Jeffersonian heritage, but neither can claim direct descent. R. Christian Colvin, St. Louis
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