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Fagal

Was Thomas Jefferson a hypocrite?

PhD candidate in history Andrew Fagal disputes those who think Jefferson betrayed the ideals of limited government by supporting a strong military.

It's right there in the preamble to the Constitution of the United States — to "provide for the common defense" — says PhD candidate in history Andrew Fagal. For decades, historians have argued over whether or not Jefferson and his supporters betrayed their small-government rhetoric when they took over the presidency 12 years after the country's founding by engineering spending programs that built domestic military manufacturing industries — a precursor to today's military industrial complex. Some argued at the time that such government power was unconstitutional.

"The Jeffersonians not only viewed it as constitutional, but they viewed it as necessary," Fagal says. That's why it was in the preamble. "They identified a major problem during the American Revolution: not having enough domestically produced arms and ammunition. They had to rely on imports."

His research has led to three national fellowships and his selection as one of only two graduate students to participate in the National Endowment for the Humanities seminar, "The Early American Republic and the Problem of Governance," held in Philadelphia during the summer of 2012.

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Last Updated: 12/10/14