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Thomas Jefferson


Jefferson had destroyed political traditions. From his contradictions and defecting his priciples, Jefferson destroyed the political precedent and is a exemplatory hypocrite,
which can be seen throughout his administration. Jefferson was an admired statesman who was grappling unsuccessfully with the moral issue of slavery. Thomas Jefferson,
the author of the Declaration of Independence, opposed slavery his whole life, yet he never freed his own slaves. He championed Enlightenment principles, yet never freed himself of the prejudices of his soceity. Jefferson was extremely hypocritical
in the issue of slavery. Jefferson was a plantation owner early in his life, and had slaves working for him throughout his life. Jefferson had tolerated while he didn’t accept others who owned slaves. Jefferson denounced the slave owners, while he was owning and using slaves. Although Jefferson was supposedly a good slave owner, his hypocritical nature made him accuse others not to own slaves while he, himself was owning slaves. Another part of the hypocrisy was that Jefferson believed that the slaves were dependent upon the white man, while he, himself was dependent upon the slaves. Jefferson also was hypocritcal in his acquisition of the Loisiana territory. In Jeffersonian principles, large expansive governments were bad, and small was good. This was a antithesis of that principle. Jefferson knew that the acquisition of the Loisiana territory was beneficial to the welfare of the U.S. According to the constitution, nowhere in the constitution is the acquisition of land a right of the government, Jeffersons’ predisposition was to strictly go by the constitution (as seen with the national bank controversy), this is another contradiction during his administration. Since the appropriation of the Lousiana territory was important for the expansion of the united states, he temporarily dismissed his principles, therefore destroying political traditions. Another hypocritical event during Jeffersons’ administrationwas his acceptance of the National Bank. Early in Jefferson’s political career, Jefferson had debated with Hamilton on whether to have the National Bank. “When this government was first established, it was possible to have kept it going on true principles, but the contracted, English, half-lettured ideas of Hamilton destroyed that hope in the bud, We can pay off his debts in 15 years.” Early in Jefferson’s Administration, Jefferson had denounced the National Bank. At the end of his administration, Jefferson realized that the National Bank was important and this is hypocritical by disregarding his principles. The Burr conspiracy depicted Jefferson as a ruthless, and a individual who will do anything inorder to achieve his goal.

Jefferson championed civil liberties and unalienable rights. Yet, Jefferson violated civil liberties by coercing witnesses, arrested with out habeus corpus and prosecuting in a “court” of his own. Jefferson and Jeffersonians are hypocrites from the start and they destroyed political tradition as seen during Jeffersons’ administration.

Jeffersonians show an immense amount of hypocritism in their policies. For example, Federalists had supported high tarriffs, inorder to protect national manufacturers and american industry.The tarriffs were a vital determinent, which kept the economy of
the United States viable. The Jeffersonians, not the Federalists began the American system of protecting american industry which initially was a major constituent of the federalist platform.
In the thick of party conflict in 1800, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a private letter, “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” This powerful advocate of liberty was born in 1743 in Albermarle County, Virginia, inheriting from his father, a planter and surveyor, some 5,000 acres of land, and from his mother, a Randolph, high social standing. He studied at the College of William and Mary, then read law. In 1772 he married Martha Wayles Skelton, a widow, and took her to live in his partly constructed mountaintop home, Monticello. Freckled and sandy-haired, rather tall and awkward, Jefferson was eloquent as a correspondent, but he was no public speaker. In the Virginia House of Burgesses and the Continental Congress, he contributed his pen rather than his voice to the patriot cause. As the “silent member” of the Congress, Jefferson, at 33, drafted the Declaration of Independence. In years following he labored to make its words a reality in Virginia. Most notably, he wrote a bill establishing religious freedom, enacted in 1786. Jefferson succeeded Benjamin Franklin as minister to France in 1785. His sympathy for the French Revolution led him into conflict with Alexander Hamilton when Jefferson was Secretary of State in President Washington’s Cabinet. He resigned in 1793. Sharp political conflict developed, and two separate parties, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans, began to form. Jefferson gradually assumed leadership of the Republicans, who sympathized with the revolutionary cause in France. Attacking Federalist policies, he opposed a strong centralized Government and championed the rights of states. As a reluctant candidate for President in 1796, Jefferson came within three votes of election. Through a flaw in the Constitution, he became Vice President, although an opponent of President Adams. In 1800 the defect caused a more serious problem. Republican electors, attempting to name both a President and a Vice President from their own party, cast a tie vote between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. The House of Representatives settled the tie. Hamilton, disliking both Jefferson and Burr, nevertheless urged Jefferson’s election. When Jefferson assumed the Presidency, the crisis in France had passed. He slashed Army and Navy expenditures, cut the budget, eliminated the tax on whiskey so unpopular in the West, yet reduced the national debt by a third. He also sent a naval squadron to fight the Barbary pirates, who were harassing American commerce in the Mediterranean. Further, although the Constitution made no provision for the acquisition of new land, Jefferson suppressed his qualms over constitutionality when he had the opportunity to acquire the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon in 1803. During Jefferson’s second term, he was increasingly preoccupied with keeping the Nation from involvement in the Napoleonic wars, though both England and France interfered with the neutral rights of American merchantmen. Jefferson’s attempted solution, an embargo upon American shipping, worked badly and was unpopular. Jefferson retired to Monticello to ponder such projects as his grand designs for the University of Virginia. A French nobleman observed that he had placed his house and his mind “on an elevated situation, from which he might contemplate the universe.” He died on July 4, 1826.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness.” These famous lines of the Declaration of Independence was written in the front parlor of a second floor rented apartment by the American, Thomas Jefferson. These few words show what ideas and beliefs Thomas Jefferson stood for, and how he continuously fought for these words to become fulfilled in his country. This powerful advocate of liberty was born in 1743 in Albermarle County, Virginia. From his father he inherited some 5,000 acres of land, and from his mother, a high social ranking. He studied at the College of William and Mary, then read the law. Thomas Jefferson was a man of many different talents. He knew several languages, including Latin and Greek. He was an expert mathematician who was even able to calculate when eclipses of the sun and moon would occur. He could design buildings, perform medical operations like an experienced surgeon, survey land, and play the violin. Despite his thinness, he was strong enough to tame a wild horse and chop wood like a lumberjack. Most important of all, he was know to be a superb writer. Though surprisingly, Thomas Jefferson was not a man of many words. Not known for his speaking abilities, he was shy and seldom spoke in public. When delegates at the Congress gave long speeches, Thomas Jefferson oftentimes just listened. John Adams said of Jefferson, “During the whole time I sat with him in Congress, I never heard him utter three sentences together.” Instead, this Virginian contributed his pen rather than his voice to the patriotic cause. Being known throughout the colonies as a fine writer on political questions, he received the most votes to become the chairman of the committee elected to write a Declaration of
Independence. The other members of the committee asked him to write a first draft of the Declaration. Jefferson began his work in the parlor of his apartment. For several days, he worked long hours at a desk, writing this Declaration for which he is widely known. He described that his words were not meant to be original or creative, but “to be an expression of the American mind.” Thomas Jefferson was a reluctant candidate for President in 1796, and came within three votes of election. However in 1800 he did become the third president of the United States. As president Jefferson slashed Army and Navy expenditures, cut the budget, eliminated tax on whiskey, and reduced the
national debt by a third. Although the Constitution made no provisions for the acquisition of new land, Jefferson suppressed his qualms over constitutionality and acquired the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon in 1803. Jefferson retired to Monticello to ponder such projects as his grand designs for the University of Virginia. As a French nobleman observed, he had placed his house and his mind “on an elevated situation, from which he might contemplate the universe.” Truly, Thomas Jefferson was an American. He had endless devotion and love for his country, and helped establish what the American experience stood for. He had a great impact on how the young nation grew into the powerful country it is today. Not only did he physically double the size of the United States, he played a key role in making the nation independent.

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 to Peter and Jane Jefferson. His exact place of birth is not known. But it is believed to be about five miles outside of Charlottesville. He had ten brothers and sisters, but many of them died very young. Jefferson was one of two surviving sons. He was sandy-haired, tall, and awkward. His nickname was “Long Tom.” He really enjoyed outdoor activities, especially riding, shooting, and canoeing. Jefferson was also great musician and a diligent worker who loved to study. His father impressed upon him a love of reading and writing. Although he was not a great public speaker, Jefferson was a very eloquent writer. After his fathers death, Jefferson left for school in Williamsburg. He fell in love there many times, but did not marry until he entered law school. He met and fell in love with a twenty-one year old widow named Martha Skelton, they married in 1772. The couple had six children, but three died in infancy. By all accounts, they had a very happy marriage. “The young couple was exceedingly happy and exceedingly busythey were gay and loving”(Padover, 23). Early in their marriage they were very wealthy. The Jeffersons were one of the largest land owners in Virginia by the time Tom was in his late twenties. Partly because of Toms hard work, but mainly because of the large amount of land and money left to them by Marthas father in his will.

In his thirties, Jefferson was Virginias delegate to congress. He wrote the Declaration of Independence at the age of thirty-three. This was Jeffersons most famous piece of literature. He also wrote the bill establishing religious freedom, this backed up the ideas he threaded into the Declaration. Originally, Jefferson tried to add a clause to free the slaves, but southern delegates would not sign the Declaration until that clause was removed. He claimed he planned to free his slaves after his death. Jefferson fought for the Republican party and argued strongly against Federalist policies. The Republican party was later renamed the Jeffersonian Republicans after him.
Jefferson was a very reluctant candidate for president. He lost by only three votes. Because of a flaw in the constitution he became Vice-President under John Adams even though he was an opponent. Years later, the same clause brought about another problem, when Aaron Burr and Jefferson tied for President. The House of Representative settled the tie.

Jefferson had high and almost immediate popularity as President. Almost as soon as he came into office, the crisis in France passed. He then cut army expenditures and many taxes. He also acquired territory from Napoleon through the Louisiana Purchase.

After his presidency, Jefferson retired to Monticello. He still enjoyed many of his outdoor activities, but also used much of his time to develop ideas. He constantly received letters from friends and the inquisitive. After his death, Jeffersons grandson found twenty six thousand letters and sixteen thousand responses on file. In his old age, Jefferson got the idea for a system of higher learning. He introduced his idea of a University to congress, but it was rejected. Virginias legislatures took on Jeffersons project the University of Virginia was built. Jefferson always seemed to be thinking of the well being and the future of our country. He had visions of the United States being a superior and highly educated society. At his death bed, he struggled to live until the fourth of July. Jefferson died in his home on Independence Day in 1826, fifty years to the day after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. His tombstone reads as requested “Here was buried Thomas Jefferson. Author of the Declaration of Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom, and father of the University of Virginia”(Padover, 186).

Padovers book was very interesting. It gave a personal touch to the political life of Thomas Jefferson. No much of the book could be debated because it was merely stating facts on Jeffersons life. However, a lot of the book seemed to be an over glorification of him. They seem to over look certain things about his life. For instance, Jefferson is congratulated for the clause in his will to free his slaves. If he was such an advocate of equality, it seems he would have done this during his lifetime. It also seems somewhat ironic in light of the recent DNA testing to prove that he had a sexual relationship with at least one of his slaves. However, many historians say that Jefferson did pay special attention to his illigitimate son, even though he never claimed him. This is mainly due to the beliefs of the time. It was socially acceptable, though never really talked about, to use your female slaves as your personal harem. At the time the book was written, however, there was no knowledge of this relationship. It is ironic only in hindsight. Many of Padovers seeming glorifications are hard to dispute. Jefferson was a very intelligent, talented, and accomplished man. He was a great servant to his people, and usually had very good intentions for his actions. His Declaration is still a monument to our society.
Thomas Jefferson was a man of the greatest moral character who has been excoriated routinely over the last 30 years by historical revisionists
and presentists. His commitment to America and his vast contributions to
the framing of society as it is today are overlooked in favor of base
analysis of his character that, while not flawless, is that of a morally
upright person who has deeply held convictions and lives by them.

Jefferson was born to a prominent family of Virginia tobacco growers.

Plantation life is based largely around the work of slaves, so Jefferson
was surrounded by them from the time of his birth in 1743 until the day
he died. One of the harshest criticisms of Jefferson comes from the fact
that, while he vehemently opposed slavery, was indeed a slave owner
himself. As historian Douglas L. Wilson points out in his Atlantic
Monthly article “Thomas Jefferson and the Character Issue”, the question
should be reversed:
“…This was of asking the question… is essentially backward, and
reflects the pervasive presentism of our time. Consider, for example,
how different the question appears when inverted and framed in more
historical terms: How did a man who was born into a slave holding
society, whose family and admired friends owned slaves, who inherited a
fortune that was dependent on slaves and slave labor, decide at an early
age that slavery was morally wrong and forcefully declare that it ought
to be abolished?” (Wilson 66).

Wilson also argues that Jefferson knew that his slaves would be better
off working for him than freed in a world where they would be treated
with contempt and not given any real freedoms.

Another way that Thomas Jefferson shows his moral character is in his
most famous achievement, the drafting of the Declaration of
Independence. This document is probably the most important document in
the history of the United States, and one of the most important in the
history of the world. Jefferson writes that “all men are created equal”
and argues that every man has the right to “life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness.” Jeffersons document shows not only his strongly
held beliefs in freedom, but his acceptance of and belief in the views
of the Age of Reason. He believed himself to be a person who was doing
what was morally right, not for the fame that would eventually accompany
it. In fact, he didnt want to write the Declaration to begin with. In
1776, the song “Not Me, John” shows how Jefferson was pushed into doing
it, despite the fact that he would have actually rather gone home to see
his wife. When nobody else would do it, he acquiesced and agreed to
write it. His quote, “What will posterity think we were — demigods?
Were men — no more, no less” (1776), shows how as a contemporary of
such philosophical greats as Voltaire and Mill, he did what he did
because it was what needed to happen — not in any way, shape, or form
because he wanted to be remembered as a demigod, a status he actually
had anyway, according to Wilson, until the 1960s.

Another thing that Jeffersons character is criticized for and blown
out of proportion is his liaison with a slave, Sally Hemings. Historian
Fawn Brodie argues that it was “not scandalous debauchery with an
innocent slave victim, but rather a serious passion that brought
Jefferson and the slave woman much happiness over a period lasting
thirty-eight years.” True, their affair started when she was only 14
years old, but to criticize this is terribly presentistic. In colonial
times, especially in the middle and southern colonies, girls were
married off between the ages of 13 and 16; it was not considered
defilement and abuse like it is today. In fact, his relationship with
Hemings could actually be considered to be a positive thing for him on
two fronts: Since she was 52 when he died, Jefferson obviously did not
lust after her solely on a physical basis; also, he promised his wife
when she died that he would not remarry. He fulfilled his promise only
because he found a woman to love whom he was not expected, indeed not
allowed, to marry. This is a weak front on which to criticize Jefferson.

Given Jeffersons contributions to American society, it is almost
impossible to find him to be morally weak and coarse. Those who do are
presentists, cynics, and nay-sayers who are simply looking for a way to
criticize one of the greatest Americans who has ever lived.