Thomas Jefferson throughout his life accomplished many things that changed the shape of. America. He was the author of the Declaration Of Independence, secretary of state, vice president ,and president of the United States.He was born into a powerful family in Shadwell Virginia on April 13, 1738. He went to the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg where he studied Law and became one of the most well-known lawyers in the United States. Now Jefferson’s political life started after the French & Indian war which took a lot of money from Great Britain. To gain back the money they spent on the war the began to start imposing taxes on the colonies in America. This would then start the American Revolution which he was one of the most loyal supporters.
Jefferson got elected to the Virginia House Of Burgesses in 1768 and joined Patrick Henry and George Washington’s group. In the Second Continental Congress, Congress had him do most of the important work for Congress.Jefferson and 4 others were given the task of drafting the Declaration Of Independence. The group gave him the honor of making the first draft in June 1776.
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He would then create one of the most important documents in US history. Although his first draft went through multiple changes his most famous words would remain and never be forgotten “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”. He then return to Virginia to than become a member of the Virginia House Of Delegates where he served for 3 years. During his time in the House of Delegates, one of his biggest accomplishments was to allow freedom of religion in Virginia.
Jefferson would then begin his climb up into the higher levels of the US government, on June 1, 1779, he was elected as the second governor of Virginia. He failed to please the people during his term and decided to live a normal life, but then went back into politics. Once he returned to politics he replaced Franklin as the minister to France. He would go to France and became friends with John Adams and his wife. Once he came back to Virginia he found out that Washington had just become the first president.
Washington appointed him as his secretary of state, during Washington’s presidency there was an argument between Alexander Hamilton who led the Federalist and Jefferson who led the Republicans that tore the new government. Their argument was settled with the creation of the National Bank. On January 5, 1794, he resigned as secretary of state because of all the conflict.During his break from politics, he had a lot of controversy surrounding him such as his relationship with Sally Hemings his slave. Records show that there was DNA evidence shown through some members of Jefferson’s family. There were also stories passed down orally through the Hemings family. Another controversy was how his words conflicted with his actions.
If we look back to what he said in the Declaration of Independence about how all men were created equal Jefferson didn’t follow what he himself said. He owned multiple slaves and if we look at it now it’s just naked racism.He was elected by the Republicans as their choice to become the next president, but instead, the rules back then made him become the next Vice President who truly didn’t have a substantive role in the government. Now during his four years, he created “A Manual of Parliamentary Practice” a guide to Legislative proceedings.Jefferson became the president 1800 which was the first transfer of power from one party to another. During his first 2 years of his term, he reduced the national debt by 87 million dollars.
Now the most important thing he did during his presidency was asserting the government power and his liberal reading of the constitution. His biggest accomplishment was the Louisiana Purchase which cost the US 15 million dollars. He doubled the size of the United States and got Lewis and Clark to explore the new land.
On February 24, 1803, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Marbury v. Madison, one of the most important Supreme Court cases in American history. This ruling established for the first time the principle that the Supreme Court can declare an act of Congress void if it is inconsistent with the Constitution. This case established the basis for judicial review of congressional and executive actions on the grounds of their constitutionality. He got rid of a problem that existed for centuries by getting rid of the Barbary Pirates by sending Americas new warships. The Barbary War lasted for 19 years and it was the only threat to America during his first term.
Both of these actions showed the expansion of government power. He won re-election in 1804 and had much more difficulties during his 2nd term. He failed in trying to impeach multiple Federalist judges in the government by the Judiciary Act of 1801. The biggest problem he faced was the war between Napoleonic France and Great Britain. Even though he tried his best to not get involved with their war France and Great Britain started attacking/harassing American trading ships.
He maintained the national security of America by passing the Embargo Act of 1807, it stopped all trade between America and Europe. The act destroyed the American economy as the money made from exports went down by 86 million dollars. , and it left the US in a bad state. His actions in making the Embargo Act caused some controversy with some saying it was a terrible decision. When a British warship killed 2 americans the nation cried for war ,but Jefferson decided a more peaceful route displeasing americans. A few months before leaving office Congress took over and replaced the Embargo Act with the Non-Intercourse Act, which banned trade with England and France but allowed it with all other countries. As Jefferson left office in 1809 his Embargo Act and the Non-Intercourse Act led to the War of 1812 with Great Britain. Thomas Jefferson’s approval ratings during both of his terms were all good and strongly approved even during his failures in his second term.
Once he was done with his political life he spent his time working on his home and organized the University of Virginia the first secular university. Even with his retirement, he had one problem which was his debts which he paid off by selling his library.He died peacefully on July 4, 1826, on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration Of Independence and the same day John Adams died. Jefferson is buried in the family cemetery in Monticello.
He will be known as the author of the Declaration of Independence and one of the American Founding Fathers, but he will be known for many other things. A man who was an advocate of liberty yet a racist slave owner. A supporter of limited government and the president who expanded government power much more than his predecessors.
The man who doubled the size of the US. Jefferson is a president that will always be remembered and one of the most dominant political figures of his time.