Early on in his illustrious career, Jefferson championed the rights of the agrarian farmer, defending the platform that, for America to remain a great republic, it must remain an agrarian power. However, by 1814, Jefferson saw 'the manufacturer by the side of the agriculturalist', and saw that it was good. Jefferson"s political and philosophical outlooks took a major change between 1790 and 1814, from staunch agriculturalist to accepting the necessity of industrialism, even embracing it to some extent.
Up until at least 1800 (and possibly as late as 1811), Jefferson fiercely fought the Federalists, taking a pro-agriculture stance in almost all issues. Raised on a plantation by a self-made father, early on he gained a deep respect for the Yeoman farmer, whom he saw as the wellspring of virtue. For him, only the farmer was independent enough to maintain a strong sense of individual responsibility and independent thought. He saw the American dream stretching across the Western borders, enough land to settle thousands of generations of Agrarian-based settlements upon which the American Republic might thrive. Cities, he reasoned upon looking at England, were the genesis of corruption and decay in government. As long as cities and manufacturing were avoided, the Republic would stand firm. What little did need to be manufactured could be imported from abroad. From this set of beliefs he developed a strong constituency among those whose wealth came from agriculture, mainly in the southern and western states, but also in the North as well. Finally, Jefferson gained enough support to win the much-contested 1800 presidential election.
During Jefferson"s two terms as president, his views on the Agrarian utopia slowly transformed to see both yeoman and manufacturer as essential to the well being of the Republic. Rather than any single event, this change was a slow process of give-and-take, which actually started before his presidency. The seeds to his change of heart were born in his early diplomatic journeys to France and Britain. At a younger age, he had detested the city and its citizens—he felt urban culture was rife with corruption, lechery, and other vices caused by overpopulation. However, upon journeying to the cities of France and Britain, he admired many working-class citizens of the countries, if deploring there treatment and living conditions. However, at this point he still believed in the superiority of the Agrarian lifestyle—it was only the force of political currents that changed his mind. Because the election was tied between Jefferson and Burr, Jefferson made several understood concessions to the leery Federalists, and although he detested it, Jefferson stood by those concessions. After the election, he attempted to cross the sharp partisan lines that had developed in order to tackle the more important issues. This was the cause for even more 'necessary evils' in the form of concessions to the Federalists. Yet perhaps the most important concessions weren't conciliatory, but necessary for the survival of the Union. Many of Hamilton's policies were so vital to the economy of one sector or another that to remove them would at best be a pyrrhic victory. So it was with grudging acceptance that Jefferson realized the necessity of pro-industrialist policies. Finally, the increasing tensions between the United States and Britain forced him to rethink his policy of importing most of what industry was needed. In order to survive, the Union must be self-sufficient. Jefferson now saw how both Agrarian and Industrialist policy and practice must be combined for a healthy, independent Republic.
Once Jefferson was convinced of the validity of an idea, he happily incorporated it into his policy. Perhaps the most dramatic showings of his policy shift towards industry were the Embargo act, which forced America to manufacture all of its own goods, and the more benign protective tariffs which encouraged home production over foreign imports. However, he did not abandon his agricultural dream, either. He greatly expanded America"s frontier with the Louisiana Purchase, increasing the availability of land to his beloved yeoman farmers. The American Dream, he now saw, 'must now place the manufacturer by the side of the agriculturalist.'
Jefferson's journey from champion of the yeoman to the bipartisan statesman was a long one, a slow process of compromise and adaptation to the times. However, he set the framework for a viable Republican government that would limit power of all interest groups, whether agrarian plantation owner or industrialist baron. Because he was willing to work with, rather than against, the Federalist minority, he averted several possible civil wars and allowed the government to function much more smoothly, a necessity as the shadow of war loomed not to far over the horizon.