Thomas Jefferson came into the White House with a program of advancing small-scale, land-owning family farmers, expanding the American territo ry to create what he described as the “Empire of Liberty” and promoting political liberty through minimal government. Jefferson was an idealist. His idealism and the reality of governance proved quite different.
The limitations of Jefferson’s vision, whatever its merits in the abstract, became apparent in relations with Indians and the origins of the War of 1812 with Great Britain. He hoped that a nation of owners of small property would lead to the demise of slavery, but during these years, slavery became rooted in Southern economies.