Who was Thomas Jefferson?
Who was Thomas Jefferson, what was his personality like, and what important things happened during his presidency?
- 1 decade agoFavorite Answer
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 Albemarle 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.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of republicanism in the United States. Major events during his presidency include the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806).
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Jefferson was one of the founders of America. Among the founders, he was one of the best writers, and wrote the most, so his ideas have come down to us better and more clearly than other of our founders, in letters, essays, etc.
Jefferson was a very interesting man. He was a Deist, meaning he believed in science over the Bible. He was a man of many talents, architect, inventor, musician, educator, etc. He was a lawyer, a state legislator, a governor, an ambassador, and finally president of the US. Our vision of democracy today, what it means, how it should work, etc., is mostly due to Jefferson.
He wrote the Declaration of Independence, founded the University of Virginia, and wrote the first law declaring religious freedom in the US. And those were three accomplishments he was most proud of, the ones he wanted on his tombstone.
His presidency was not exactly the most event-filled. He appointed three Supreme Court justices, and Ohio was admitted to the union. That's about it.
Jefferson is a hero of mine, mostly for his writing. His style of writing is very 18th-century, with flowery wording. I have visited his home at Monticello and it's really something to see if you are in the neighborhood, the house he built, all the inventions for farming, etc. You really get a feeling for what he was like.
- Anonymous5 years ago
I'd be curious to read the source of your quote, and especially the context. I don't think this quote is actually Jefferson's, and it doesn't truly reflect the view of the author of Virginia's Statute for Religious Freedom. I've read about 80 percent of Jefferson's writings, and I'd be really curious to see this quote in context, since I don't recognize it. . . . and I happen to know a little bit more about Thomas Jefferson than you do. I wrote a biography of him.
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- 1 decade ago
he wrote most of our constitution, he wasn't an atheist, but wasn't "super religious". he was a "statesman". he wasn't a president for himself, but to build/make this "fledgling" country. when his term was over, he left quietly.
a president is meant to be a "servant" to this nation, slick willy is just pimping it for millions.
now we have a lame lawyer/idiot that can't get his facts straight, lies all the time and will say anything to anyone (BO).
- MΔgЇc ΞngΓLv 41 decade ago
Little known fact: He was the Father of American Cryptography.
- 1 decade ago
nothing bout is personality but he made the Louisiana Purchase possible
- 1 decade ago
um he was president, and he bought the Louisianna Purchase, and that's ll I can think of right now.
- 1 decade ago
he was the 3rd president...wrote the declasration of independence...bought the lousiana purchase...tons of other stuff..