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Monday, March 26, 2012

Thomas Jefferson

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Thomas Jefferson is remembered in history not only for the


offices he held, but also for his belief in the natural rights of man


as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and his faith in the


people’s ability to govern themselves. He left an impact on his times


Cheap Custom Essays on Thomas Jefferson

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equaled by few others in American history. Born on April 1, 174,


Jefferson was the third child in the family and grew up with six


sisters and one brother. Though he opposed slavery, his family


had owned slaves. From his father and his environment he developed an


interest in botany, geology, cartography, and North American


exploration, and from his childhood teacher developed a love for Greek


and Latin. In 1760, at the age of 16, Jefferson entered the College of


William and Mary and studied under William Small and George Wythe.


Through Small, he got his first views of the expansion of science and


of the system of things in which we are placed. Through Small and


Wythe, Jefferson became acquainted with Governor Francis Fauquier.


After finishing college in 176, Jefferson studied law with Wythe and


noticed growing tension between America and Great Britain.


Jefferson was admitted to the bar in 1767. He successfully practiced


law until public service occupied most of his time. At his home in


Shadwell, he designed and supervised the building of his home,


Monticello, on a nearby hill. He was elected to the Virginia House of


Burgesses in 176. Jefferson met Martha Wayles Skelton, a wealthy


widow of , in 1770 and married her in 177. They settled in


Monticello and had one son and five daughters. Only two of his


children, Martha and Mary, survived until maturity. Mrs. Martha


Jefferson died in 178, leaving Thomas to take care of his two


remaining children.


Though not very articulate, Jefferson proved to be an able


writer of laws and resolutions he was very concise and straight to the


point. Jefferson soon became a member in a group which opposed and


took action in the disputes between Britain and the colonies.


Together with other patriots, the group met in the Apollo Room of


Williamsburg’s famous Raleigh Tavern in 176 and formed a


nonimportation agreement against Britain, vowing not to pay import


duties imposed by the Townshend Acts. After a period of calmness,


problems faced the colonists again, forcing Jefferson to organize


another nonimportation agreement and calling the colonies together to


protest. He was chosen to represent Albermarle County at the First


Virginia Convention, where delegates were elected to the First


Continental Congress. He became ill and was unable to attend the


meeting, but forwarded a message arguing that the British Parliament


had no control over the colonies. He also mentioned the Saxons who


had settled in England hundred of years before from Germany and how


Parliament had no more right to govern the colonies than the Germans


had to govern the English. Most Virginians saw this as too extreme,


though. His views were printed in a pamphlet called A Summary of the


Rights of British America (1774). Jefferson attended the Second


Virginia Convention in 1775 and was chosen as one of the delegates to


the Second Continental Congress, but before he left for Philadelphia,


he was asked by the Virginia Assembly to reply to Lord North’s message


of peace, proposing that Parliament would not try to tax the


settlers if they would tax themselves. Jefferson’s Reply to Lord


North was more moderate that the Summary View. Instead of agreeing


with Lord North, Jefferson insisted that a government had been set up


for the Americans and not for the British.


The Declaration of Independence was primarily written by


Jefferson in June 1776. Congress felt that the Declaration was too


strong and gave Dickinson the responsibility of redrafting the


document, but the new version included much of Jefferson’s original


text and ideas. In 177, Jefferson became governor of Virginia,


guiding Virginians through the final years of the Revolutionary War.


As a member of the Second Continental Congress, he drafted a plan for


decimal coinage and composed an ordinance for the Northwest Territory


that formed the foundation for the Ordinance of 1787. In 1785, he


became minister to France. Appointed secretary of state in President


Washington’s Cabinet in 170, Jefferson defended local interests


against Alexander Hamilton’s policies and led a group called the


Republicans. He was elected vice-president in 176 and protested the


enactment of the Alien and Sedition Acts by writing The Kentucky


Resolutions.


In 1800, the Republicans nominated Jefferson for president and


Aaron Burr (A Buh. hahaha) for vice-president. Federalists had


nominated John Adams for president and Charles Pinckney for


vice-president. Federalists claimed that Jefferson was a


revolutionary, an anarchist, and an unbeliever. Jefferson won the


presidency by receiving 7 electoral votes (Adams received 65).


Supporters celebrated with bonfires and speeches, only to find out


that Jefferson and Burr received an equal number of electoral votes,


creating a tie and throwing the election to the House of


Representatives.


After 6 ballots, the House declared Jefferson as president.


As did Adams before he, Jefferson faced opposition from his own party


as well as from the Federalists. As mentioned earlier, Jefferson had


an interest in North American exploration. He used his presidential


power to purchase Louisiana from France and gave Meriwither Lewis and


William Clark the opportunity and the responsibility to explore this


vast territory. After their triumphantreturn, the hostile Aaron Burr


engaged in a conspiracy either to establish an independent republic in


the Louisiana Territory or to launch an invasion of Spanish-held


Mexico. Jefferson acted promptly to arrest Burr and brought him to


trial for treason. Burr was acquitted, however. Foreign policy during


his second term was rather unsuccessful. In an effort for the British


to respect the United States’ neutrality during the Napoleonic Wars by


passing the Embargo Act, he persuaded Congress to stop all trade with


Britain, a move that failed to gain any respect from Britain,


alienated New England (who lived by foreign trade), and shattered the


nation’s economy. Fifteen months later, he repealed the Embargo Act.


In the final years of his life, Jefferson’s major accomplishment was


the founding of the University of Virginia at Charlottesville. He


conceived it, planned it, designed it, and supervised both its


construction and the hiring of the workers. He also hired the first


professors and came up with its first course of study.


Jefferson wished to be remembered by three things, which


consisted of a trilogy of unrelated causes freedom from Britain,


freedom from conscience, and freedom maintained through education. On


the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson


died in Monticello. Though not flawless, given Jefferson’s


contributions to the shaping of American society then and how it is


today, it is nearly impossible to find him morally weak and coarse.


He has truly defined true American culture as it is today and has


shaped the lives of many Americans both of his time and our time


alike.





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