Thomas Jefferson

Ian Hitchner

The Man Himself

Thomas Jefferson was one of the American Founding Fathers and was a spokesman for democracy. He was also the principal author of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the third President of the United States from 1801 to 1809. He was born in 1743 in Albemarle County, Virginia and inherited a high social standing from his mother and 5,000 acres of land from his father. He studied at the College of William and Mary. In 1772 he marries a woman named Martha Wayles Skelton who was a widow at the time and took her to live in his partially constructed mountaintop home. At the age of 33, he drafted the Declaration of Independence. After that, he worked to help Virginia and wrote a bill which established religious freedom which was enacted in 1786. Jefferson succeeded Benjamin Franklin as the minister to France in 1785 and he eventually resigned in 1793. He went on to be elected President in February 17, 1801 and in 1803, he had purchased the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon. He ended his presidency in 1809 and died on July 4, 1826.
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"The Wealth of Nations"

While in France between 1784 and 1789, Thomas Jefferson bought a copy of the three-volume third edition of Adam Smith's Book, "The Wealth of Nations." Thomas Jefferson noted, in his 1789 Catalog of Books, that he had paid 24 shillings for this important enlightenment work. On may 30, 1790, in a letter addressed to a man named Thomas Mann Randolph that recommended the book for the study of law. On June 11, 1807, he wrote another letter addressed to John Norvel that also recommended the book. Jefferson made use of Adam Smith's book and often quoted from it on the subject of banks and paper money. Thomas Jefferson wrote a long letter to John Wayles Eppes in November 1813 which contains numerous quotations from "The Wealth of Nations" and also plenty of comments on those quotes. Jefferson was strongly influence by Scottish Enlightenment. Jefferson once noted, "In political economy, I think Smith's 'Wealth of Nations' the best book extant." Some Historians have suggested that the wording of the Declaration of Independence was directly influenced by works by Scottish Enlightenment thinkers such as Adam Smith with "The Wealth of Nations." Within the book there are 3 popularized economic concepts which our economy uses now. These are division of labor, productivity, and free markets. First is the division of labor which is the breaking down of processes into specific steps so one person could develop a specialty. For example, if you take a person who has the job of doing three jobs at once, it would be more efficient to have 3 people doing only one job at once. The second is productivity which is the generation of more output with the same amount of inputs. This is like profit. Some resources are used to create new resources that have higher value or are more beneficial. The last is free markets which is an economic system in which prices are determined by unrestricted competition between privately owned businesses. This lets one company compete against another company without any punishment whatsoever for doing so.
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