What Was Jefferson?

by Chad Schaeffer and Joe Dise

Jefferson was a pragmatist, definitely!

Jefferson said that "The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction

is the first and only legitimate object of good government" in a letter to Maryland republicans, in 1809. When he was president, and part of the government he was supposed to do this. With his embargo he made many people angry and unhappy, although he thought it was for their own good. He bent his own morals, although for good reasons, and therefore is a pragmatist.


Jefferson kept the national bank

The national government would gain too much power from a national bank. This was the thought in the head of Jefferson and his supporters at the time of Hamilton's plan for a national bank being proposed. Yet despite Jefferson's dislike for a strong national government, he keeps this bank. He goes against his morals because he thought that this was a better choice at the moment. This is definitely a pragmatic action on Jefferson's part.


Jefferson overlooked the constitution in the Louisiana purchase, because he thought it was for the better good of the US.

This further proves that he was a pragmatist, because he held a very strict view of the constitution ,and in this instance he overlooked it for a good reason.


Jefferson had ideas about not having slaves, but he didn't follow those ideas. He used slaves in a practical and sensible way just like what other people did.

This proves again that Jefferson was a pragmatist, because he had an idea of giving people more rights, but he didn't follow those ideas. Instead he used slaves just like what everybody else did, in a sensible and practical way.


Jefferson kept Alexander Hamilton's idea of assuming the Revolutionary War debt of the states because he knew that it would best benefit the nation and it would have the nation start out right.

Jefferson kept the idea of assuming the Revolutionary War debt of the states because he thought it was a good idea that Hamilton had. It also was a sensible and practical way of starting without debt.

This proves Jefferson is a pragmatist.