Thomas Jefferson

Presented By: Tommy Hemmerick

Biography

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, on the Shadwell Plantation near Charlottesville, Virginia to his parents Peter and Jane Jefferson. Raised in a wealthy family with royal British ancestry, the Jefferson's were very influential within their community. However, their prominent status didn't leave them impervious to tragedy as their father passed away when Thomas was only fourteen and a mere five of his nine siblings would live passed the age of thirty. Jefferson was a studious boy who loved reading and playing the violin, while showing an aptitude for languages such as Greek, Latin, and French, by the end of his life he would be fluent in six language. In 1760, Jefferson would attend William & Mary University, but found most students there to be more enamored with gambling and drinking than their studies. Nevertheless Jefferson became acquainted with three scholars William Small, Francis Fauquier, and George Wythe who became his mentors throughout life. After learning from Wythe, Jefferson became a very successful lawyer and went on to meet his eventual wife, Martha Skelton who would go on to have six kids, but only two would reach adulthood. In his political career, Jefferson found great success in his support of American Independence. Joining Patrick Henry and George Washington in the House of Burgesses, he authored his first political writing, "A Summary View of the Rights of British America". In this tract he expressed that the British Crown had no right to govern the Thirteen Colonies and declared that since its founding the Colonies have been independent of British rule. At the Second Continental Congress was appointed to a committee entrusted with the task of drafting a Declaration of Independence. This selected group then chose Jefferson to create this document that he would soon become famous for writing. Jefferson's inspiration for writing the Declaration of Independence were John Locke's philosophy that all people were born with certain natural rights. After he was finished writing the declaration he served a brief stint as governor of Virginia, until his wife died in 1782 and he felt a calling to serve the greater public once again, so he became Minister to France. While in Europe he enjoyed the culture, but he found the gap between the poor and wealthy repulsive. Upon returning to America he was asked to become George Washington's Secretary of State, but found the conflict with the Secratary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, tiresome. Jefferson stood for State's Rights, a strict adherence to the Constitution, and a support for the French Revolution, and Hamilton apposed them all the same. When Washington ended up siding with Hamilton in the creation of a National Bank and neutrality in French affairs, Jefferson became so frustrated he returned to his home in Monticello and served the rest of his term there. After Washington resigned the presidency, Jefferson decided to run and would finish in second, however as runner up he would serve as vice president to John Adams. As vice president he was rarely consulted on major decision because of the differing political view of Adams, a federalist, and Jefferson, a democratic-republican. After witnessing Adam's presidency and controversial laws such as the Alien and Sedition Acts being passed, Jefferson became increasingly motivated to become president and remove the wrongdoings of the Adam's administration. Aided by the split of the Federalist Party Jefferson was able to break the tie and become the third president. During his term as president, he was able to double the size of the U.S. through the Louisiana Purchase and Explore the West. Additionally, he ended the reoccurring problem of the Barbary Pirates kidnapping of American merchants. In his second term, he struggled with maintaining neutrality, while protecting American sailors from French and British led to the Embargo Act of 1807 which severely damaged the economy, but was likely one of the limited solutions that maintained neutrality. Afterwards Jefferson retired to Monticello, tinkering with inventions and even helping to design the campus of Virginia University. Thomas Jefferson died poetically July 4, 1826 on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

Presidency 1801-1809

First Innagural Address

Historical Summation

"Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase"


By: Martin Kelly



In what amounts to some as Thomas Jefferson's greatest achievement, The Louisiana Purchase was also a falter in his principle of strictly adhering to the constitution. Such evasion from Jefferson's foundation in politics was rare as he was rooted in the ideals of limited government, state's rights, and devotion to the Constitution. However, realizing that it would take too long for a Congressional approval of the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson deemed the opportunity too good to pass up. (Participle Phrase) After taking a loan from the British, America acquired the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million. After the territory was procured, The United States doubled in size. (Periodic Sentence) Additionally, the purchase removed the threat of another European colonizer which was paramount to a nation coming off its Revolution, unprepared for additional conflict. Additionally the acquisition sparked the movement of Manifest Destiny which inspired the migration of Americans to settle the West, resulting in prosperity, but also a dark chapter of mistreatment of the natives. The fact that the Louisiana Purchase had a profound impact on American society is undeniable, but the precedent of stretching the Constitution and the Presidents power to do what he or she deems necessary and proper is something Thomas Jefferson likely regrets.

John Adams

Jefferson first met Adams at the Second Continental Congress in1775 where he, along with Adams, was selected to a committee with the task of drafting the Declaration of Independence. Adams persuaded Jefferson into writing the declaration as he deemed Jefferson as the only person with the capability of creating such an important document. After the revolution Adams and Jefferson's political differences became apparent the two remained friends until 1801 when Jefferson unseated Adams for the presidency after a brutal campaign that consisted of vicious mudslinging. After years of bitter animosity the two rekindled their friendship ten years later when Adams said to one of Jefferson's neighbors "I always loved Thomas Jefferson, and still love him." Jefferson forgave Adams and they died as close friends on July 4, 1826, according to legend Adams' dying words were "Thomas Jefferson survive", yet Jefferson had died a few hours earlier.

Sally Hemmings

After the death of his wife Martha, Thomas Jefferson had an extended relationship with Sally Hemmings, his slave. Hemmings would have six children all fathered by Jefferson, with only four reaching adulthood. The first time the two were linked together was in 1802 when a newspaper reporter called Hemmings a "concubine." Jefferson never freed Hemmings, but did free all of her children.

Modern Campaign

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America's center lies in it's people, not in it's government

Notes on the State of Virgnia

In his Notes, Jefferson creates an encyclopedia of Virginia containing it geography, history, and architecture. More significantly, however, he describes his philosophy of an agrarian democracy and the superior virtues of the farmer to any other occupation. Where this book draws its notoriety is from Jefferson's comments on race. Jefferson believed that blacks were inherently inferior to whites and the native populations of Virginia. In both mind and body he found whites to be superior and determined abolition to be impractical, instead opting for relocation of black slaves back to the slave coasts of Africa. Jefferson's blatant racism was forever encaptured in his own book, opening himself up for practically unanimous criticism by noted historians.

Parallels

Growing up on a plantation, Jefferson was surrounded by slaves in an era where most wealthy southern gentlemen owned slaves. This influence led to his warped perception of African Americans as a subordinate race.

Compare and Contrast

In the modern time period Thomas Jefferson would be a very controversial figure in politics, while many would perceive him as a hypocrite and a racist, for his view that the African American race is inferior while proclaiming that all men are created equal, and others would see him as a true servant for the people, upholding the values that the country was founded upon.

With Thomas Jefferson's ability to decipher law, write elegantly, and interpret the Constitution I would strive to be a Supreme Court Justice, creating legal precedents with a lasting impact on American society.

Defining Quote

"We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

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Works Cited

Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

Kelly, Martin. "Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase." N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.

Meacham, Jon. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. New York: Random House, 2012. Print.

"Thomas Jefferson's Monticello." Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.