By contrast, yeoman agriculture, as depicted by the Democratic-Republicans, was a system of farming in which an independent (white male) farmer owned his own land and the fruits of his labor (and therefore, could impartially participate in the political process).
Jeffersonian-Democrats welcomed opportunities for the territorial expansion of the United States because it would produce new farm lands for yeomen farmers as well as facilitate western Indian integration into American society.
This achievement occurred in the form of the Louisiana Purchase under Jefferson, the largest land deal in the history of the United States.
A brand of politicians from the 19th Century that supported Thomas Jefferson for President and a narrow interpretation of the Constitution's Article I provisions granting powers to the federal government.
The Jeffersonians believed in democracy and equality of political opportunity (for white male citizens), with a priority for the yeoman farmer and the plain folk. They were antagonistic to the supposed aristocratic elitism of merchants and manufacturers, distrusted factory workers, and the British system of government.
The Jeffersonian conception of the yeoman farmer as the model republican citizen developed under a rising fear that the aggressive Federalist promotion of industry and commerce would lead to the growth of a class of wage laborers dependent on others for income and sustenance (the antithesis of the independent, republican citizen). By contrast, yeoman agriculture, as depicted by the Democratic-Republicans, was a system of farming in which an independent (white male) farmer owned his own land and the fruits of his labor (and therefore, could impartially participate in the political process). The yeoman was the backbone of American society because independent farming, land ownership, and control of one's labor were values that Jeffersonian Democrats hoped to embody in a decentralized system of limited government and maximum individual liberty. The frugality, austerity, and self-reliance of the yeoman farmer were virtues that should be emulated by the federal government: to circumscribe tyrannical powers in favor of encouraging individual industry and improvement .
Therefore, while the Federalists advocated for a strong central government, Jeffersonian-Democrats argued for strong state and local governments and a weak federal government. In Jefferson's opinion, nothing that could feasibly be accomplished by individuals at the local level ought to be accomplished by the federal government. The federal government should concentrate its efforts on national and international projects.
Jeffersonian-Democrats welcomed opportunities for the territorial expansion of the United States because it would produce new farm lands for yeomen farmers as well as facilitate western Indian integration into American society. This achievement occurred in the form of the Louisiana Purchase under Jefferson, the largest land deal in the history of the United States. Despite the Jeffersonian ideal of a limited central government (which would not be empowered to negotiate such an expansive land deal) and Jefferson's own commitment to policies for federal debt reduction (the United States paid France fifteen million dollars for the territory), the Louisiana Purchase symbolized the success of Jeffersonian Democracy in several ways. Jefferson's vision of a decentralized agricultural society, in which yeoman farmers acquired land across vast amounts of territory, seemed a possibility in 1803 with such a vast opening for settlement.
With the Louisiana Purchase, new resources, trading routes, and extensive contact with other territories and provinces allowed for unprecedented opportunities for American farmers to cement their independence by populating western regions. Although the Louisiana Purchase brought new opportunities for U.S. expansion, it also had several long-term detrimental effects. For example, doubling the size of the United States provided the federal government with a solution to the increasing problems between Native Americans and American settlers scrabbling for lands along the eastern seaboard. With the Louisiana Purchase, Indian tribes could be forcibly removed to westernmost areas—facilitating several massive and coercive redistributions of Native American tribes over the course of the nineteenth century. Furthermore, state-formation out of the Louisiana territory would become a major issue for the federal government towards the mid-nineteenth century as debates over the establishment of free versus slave states initiated a sectarian divide in Congress that led to the Civil War.