3. Thomas Jefferson


Thomas Jefferson was the original author of the Declaration of Independence, first Secretary of State, US Minister to France, Governor of Virginia, and the third president of the United States. One of Jefferson’s greatest achievements was his statement for human right’s in the Declaration of Independence (We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…). He was a very ambitious person who challenged our political system for political power; historians argue he was un-American but without his brain and organization, this country could be very different.

Thomas Jefferson was one of the first to argue that state rights trumps federal law. He was a strong fighter for state to do as they want without federal government intervention. Jefferson was the champion for Land owners to vote only (freehold suffrage), he was against slavery, but in 1780s this was very unpopular. It was said that Jefferson fathered children from one of his favorite slave Betty Hemings. Jefferson never remarried after the death of his only wife Martha Wayles Jefferson. She died few months after the birth of her last child, Martha died on September 6, 1782.

IN 1784, Jefferson was left Congress to be the Minister of France. This was a relationship that some political leaders call treasonous. This was after the war with the British, but France was still at war with the British. The French Revolution didn’t help matters; he established controversial relationships with people evolved in the French Revolution. Some people included the Marquis de Lafayette, and the Comte de Mirabeau, a popular pamphleteer who repeated ideals that had been the basis for the American Revolution. Jefferson was present throughout the French Revolution. The separation of church and state was strengthened by this revolution. Representing the US as the Minister of France helped Jefferson in his presidency to make a deal called the Louisiana Purchase.

Jefferson returned to Virginia after returning from France only to be asked to be Secretary of State in Washington’s cabinet. B/c of Jefferson’s ambitions, he was a cancer for President George Washington. Jefferson disagreed with the President and Alexander Hamilton (then Secretary of Treasury) over the national fiscal policy, how to pay the debts of war, and the future of how to pay for bills in the US. James Madison would team-up with Jefferson to form the first political party Democrat-Republican party. They believe the Federalist were the new monarch in America. This rift was over the wars between Britain and France. The combination of trying to undermine Washington while supporting the French in war soon forced Thomas Jefferson to resign from Washington’s cabinet in 1793.

To make matters worst, Thomas Jefferson was elected Vice President after the very close election between John Adams. At the time, the person who finished second in the electoral college was then selected as the Vice President. This was soon changed after the Adams presidency. Thomas Jefferson was the worst Vice President ever; he tried to undermine John Adams at every turn. B/c of Jefferson’s new political party, it was clear he was loyal to his ideas only. Jefferson continued to do business with the French during the Adams administration. During the election on 1800, Thomas Jefferson beat the incumbent Adams to be our third president of the USA.

Five pros/cons of Thomas Jefferson Presidency:

Pros:

1. The Louisiana purchase- Jefferson did a deal with the French that doubled our territory in 1803

2. Lewis and Clark Expedition- at the time going west was like going to the moon. Thomas Jefferson personally told these two to go west, what we learned was priceless. Lewis and Clark explored the Louisiana territory and beyond; this helped people to understand the west and soon people started to migrate west. The expedition was from 1804-1806.

3. March 16, 1802, Jefferson signed the Military Peace Establishment Act- this allowed the military to open West Point. This was setup to to help train our military officers and the rest is history.

4. Signed into law an Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves- at the time of the signing, southern planters imported tens of thousands of slaves (the most ever at the time). Although this stopped international slave trading, it didn’t stop domestic slave trading.

5. Thomas Jefferson first term was one of the best in presidential history- Jefferson’s first term in office was the best is US presidential history What he accomplished was just remarkable, but his second term was one of the worst in history…the law of average.

Cons:

1. Thomas Jefferson’s administration embargo on the new Haiti country- Haiti won its independence from France during his administration, but instead of the US helping Haiti, his administration helped cripple this new country. The US imposed an arms and trade embargo…Haiti has never recovered.

2. The Jefferson’s administration Native American policy of 1803- His administration believed that the Indian people should giver up their culture, religions and lifestyle for European culture and Christian religion. If the Indian people didn’t change, then the tribe should be driven from their land across the Mississippi River. This policy was passed and signed into law by Andrew Jackson (Indian removal act of 1830), this caused the trail of tears.

3. Embargo Act of 1807- The Jefferson Administration used this act to stop trading with France and Britain. Although Thomas Jefferson had a good relationship with the French in the past, in 1807 the French just won a big battle, and they were ready to extend their power. The new law was a disaster, US companies lost million and ships still traded with the two countries. Some people blame this act for the War of 1812. This was signed into law in Jefferson’s second term, and the embargo was revoked on March 1, 1809, in the last days of Jefferson’s presidency.

4. Charged his former Vice President for treason- Thomas Jefferson couldn’t handle his own medicine, Aaron Burr was found not guilt of charges.

5. Jefferson signed into law a bill to segregate the Postal Service- the Jefferson Administration signed into law a bill that segregated the postal service; this was done so slaves couldn’t organize and rise-up. The white public was scared because successful revolution of in Haiti.

Something you didn’t know about Thomas Jefferson:

When Jefferson was drafting the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote something that Congress thought was too divisive. Congress removed language that was deemed antagonistic to friends in Britain, Jefferson’s clause would have indicted British monarchy for imposing African slavery on the colonies. If this language would’ve stayed, this could have been considered an act of war…

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