Thomas Jefferson's Influence on the History of the United States
The entire history of the United States is full of outstanding personalities that made their great contribution to it. However, some of them built this country. One of such people was Thomas Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson, the third child of Peter and Jane Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743. His family was one of the most outstanding in Virginia. On the one hand, his mother Jane Randolph Jefferson belonged to the famous Randolph clan, the descendants of British royalty. On the other, his father Peter, a very skilled man was a farmer, a surveyor and a cartographer, as well. At the age of nine, Thomas began his education at the local school where he studied classical languages, mathematics, and literature. At the age of seventeen, he went to Williamsburg to the College of William and Mary. As he was serious and hungering for knowledge, it was difficult for Jefferson at first because his classmates did not worry about studying. However, it did not prevent him from meeting lawyer George Wythe, Lieutenant Governor Francis Fauquier and Professor William Small. They were the people, who gave him the true education (Bober, 2007). After college, he spent five years with Wythe, who taught him law. It had turned Jefferson to one of the most successful lawyers (Bernstein, 2005).
At this time, momentous events took place in the American history. It was the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. Jefferson always supported the idea of American independence. Therefore, after his election to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1768, he joined the radical block. A few years later, his first work “A Summary View of the Rights of British America” appeared, in which he set some grievances against the British Empire. In 1775, the War broke out and a year later, in 1776, Jefferson was chosen as one of the representatives of the five-man committee. The goal of this committee was to create a paper that could support the idea of independence from Britain. Jefferson had seventeen days to write the first draft of the document. After long debates and discussions, this draft turned into one of the most powerful documents to liberty and civil rights in the history (Nichols, 2003). It was also one of the greatest Jefferson’s achievements. The document was named The Declaration of Independence and adopted on July 4, 1776 by the Continental Congress. Jefferson’s words about equality of all people became a standard, which United States follow through its history.
After the creation of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson returned to Virginia. From 1776 to 1779, he was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. At that time, he was changing Virginia’s law to the ideals, which were proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence (Bernstein, 2005). There were several important acts that could characterize him as a broad-minded person. He had annulled the doctrine of entail and the doctrine of primogeniture (Bernstein, 2005). From that period, not only heirs of the property owner could inherit the land and not only the oldest son of the owner could get all his land. Jefferson had also brought the separation of church and state, and proclaimed freedom of the religion (Bober, 2007). In 1779, he was elected as a governor in Virginia. However, this position turned out to be unsuccessful for Jefferson, and he step down in 1781. He claimed that he will never come back to his work and returned to his family in Monticello.
Nevertheless, a personal tragedy returned him back to the public. His wife Martha died in 1782. Three years later, Jefferson was sent to France as the American Minister. Again, this appointment also happened to be disappointing for him. Jefferson felt that it was very hard to replace Benjamin Franklin, his predecessor (Bernstein, 2005). The differences between aristocrats and masses also appalled him (Bober, 2007). When in 1789 Jefferson returned to Virginia, he had more love for his country than ever. At this time, George Washington became the President and asked Thomas Jefferson to be the Secretary of State. There, he collided with Alexander Hamilton, who was the Secretary of the Treasury. They both were very close to Washington and his most trusted advisors. Moreover, being from opposite parties, they provided Washington with direct opposite ideas (Bernstein, 2005). Republican Jefferson and federalist Hamilton argued on every important and stressing issue: debts after the war, relations with France, the creation of a national bank. When Jefferson was tired of numerous conflicts, he resigned once again and returned to his family.
In the period from 1797 to 1801, Thomas Jefferson was the Vice President under the President John Adams. Because of different political views, Adams did not consult with Jefferson on any important decision. Still, four years were successful for him because, at this time, he had written “A Manual of Parliamentary Practice”. It was the first book in America in such kind of activity and still remains one of the most useful (Nichols, 2003). In 1800, Jefferson decided to run for the presidential election. He shared first place with Aaron Burr, and the House of Representatives choose Jefferson to be the President. After the Declaration of Independence, his first term in the office was the second most successful event for the history of the United States. He made some reforms in domestic policy, for example, lowered the national debt, reduced the size of the army and bureaucracy, established Military Academy (West Point) and relocated Indian tribes. Concerning foreign policy, one of the most important accomplishments was the Louisiana Purchase. He had doubled the size of the country in a moment. To mark out the new territories, President Jefferson organized the so-called Lewis and Clark Expedition. Another crucial point in the American History was solving the question of sea protection and relations with Barber states. Jefferson refused to pay, and the war started. America won the first barbarian war and peace established for a while.
Jefferson’s second term was not as successful as the first one. The Embargo Act of 1807 affected the economy of the country badly and led to the War of 1812. Jefferson retired in 1809, and his last years were dedicated to the building of the University of Virginia. He died on July 4, 1826 and was buried in the family cemetery. It was the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
To conclude, the life of Thomas Jefferson made a direct impact on the history of the United States. The Declaration of Independence is the worldwide well-known document which America is associated with. Therefore, the author of this document will always remain the nation’s pride and the ideal for all future generations.
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