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A Biographical History of Thomas Jefferson

A Biographical History of Thomas Jefferson

The name of Thomas Jefferson is one of the most revered names among the American people. This name is equally famous among the most prominent figures in the world history. His life and work left a deep trace in the memory of humanity. Thomas Jefferson made history not only as a great statesman and a politician, but also as a philosopher, humanist, educator, linguist, botanist, geographer, architect, anthropologist, and even a paleontologist.

The writing this paper is based on a sufficient motivation for the writer, as Thomas Jefferson's name is inextricably linked with all the political events of the second half of the 18th - early 19t century in the USA. Thus, the study of the life and work of this historical figure allows to understand and appreciate them better. At the same time, this paper is relevant for a reader as well because the US government and public figures often refer to the heritage of Jefferson, often quote from his writings and documents, accompanied by his own comments. Therefore, the study and analysis of his life with the closest attention paid to his political and social activities allows understanding the influence exerted by him on the development of the USA as a state but also the influence of his views on modern management and policy makers. Thus, Thomas Jefferson created the basis for the USA as a state and its subsequent growth.

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Key Moments

Firstly, some key moments regarding such a significant person as Thomas Jefferson should be presented, defined, and explained. Lacking the talent of an eloquent speaker, Jefferson earned a reputation as a tacit deputy. His main instrument was the impact of the pen. In the pre-revolutionary and revolutionary periods, Jefferson emerged as the leader of the democratic wing of patriots and put forward many bold ideas and concepts that were included in the golden fund of the American democratic thought. They still serve as a source of inspiration for the progressive forces of the USA. His contribution to the cause of the American Revolution cannot be overestimated. Jefferson believed that only through joint efforts of the colonies it was possible to resist the dictates of the metropolis. This man was one of the founders of the republic, while his ideas were laid in its foundation and later became a part of political system (Davidson, DeLay, Heyrman, Lytle, & Stroff, 2013). In subsequent periods, Jefferson took a more moderate position. This can be explained by the logic of the political struggle that demanded from him to make concessions to the conservative allies in the Republican Party. A moderate political line was revealed in the years of his presidency to the fullest. However, even the obvious disadvantages of Jefferson's activities as the President should not overshadow the positive outcome of his presidency. During those years, under the influence of the conscious efforts of Jefferson and his associates from the bourgeoisie, democratic tendencies in the development of American society strengthened that had been mothballed during the reign of the Federalists. However, Jefferson appears not only as a politician, public figure, and statesman but also as a strong personality, which is a quality worthy of universal respect (Davidson et al., 2013). First of all, dedication and perseverance, expanding of own horizons, and the dislike of idleness were his features of character. These qualities allowed him to achieve astonishing results in many fields of activity.

Relevant Facts About Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was born in the family of a wealthy Virginia planter and landowner. From a young age, he gained a wide popularity in his native colony. At the age of 26, he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Virginia (Davidson et al., 2013). There, he introduced himself as an opponent of the metropolitan policy that was aimed at the unconditional subordination of the rule of the North American colonies to Great Britain. Thomas Jefferson was an active participant of the liberation movement of the colonies, which resulted in the War of Independence (“Biography of Thomas Jefferson”, n.d.).

Jefferson absorbed all the riches of liberal traditions of Western European and ancient literature. He drew the teachings of ancient philosophers Epicurus and Democritus on people's happiness as the goal of philosophy and their atomistic materialism, destroying religious views. He also felt a great influence of the French enlighteners and philosophers of the English bourgeois revolution. John Locke’s philosophy that developed and justified the idea of the right to revolution had an especially great influence in shaping the views of Thomas Jefferson. In 1774, Jefferson wrote his first pamphlet but in the form of an anonymous leaflet entitled “A Summary View of the Rights of British America” (Davidson et al., 2013). In this pamphlet, he gave justification of inherent rights of the English colonists in North America for self-government (Davidson et al., 2013). He outlined the objective thought regarding the separation of the colonies from the mother country (“Biography of Thomas Jefferson”, n.d.).

Shortly after the outbreak of war in June 1775, Jefferson was elected to the Second Continental Congress (Davidson et al., 2013). Another important document of the American Revolution, which came from under the pen of Thomas Jefferson, was “The Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms”, and this document, which the Second Continental Congress issued on July 6, 1775, was used to provide an explanation of the Thirteen colonies decision to resort to this action (Davidson et al., 2013). The main issue in that paper was the question about the purpose of the fight against the metropolis. The author saw it in uniting all Americans and winning independence for the sake of creating a free, democratic state. Jefferson was tasked to write the main document of the most important document of American history – the United States Declaration of Independence. It was the first ever official state document that put an end to attempts to impose colonial oppression onto Americans. Jefferson changed the known traditional form of natural human rights that belonged to John Locke, replacing "property" in it to the words "the pursuit of happiness" (Davidson et al., 2013). The document accused the King of England of tyranny and violation of basic human rights (“Biography of Thomas Jefferson”, n.d.).

After the War of Independence, Jefferson returned to his native Virginia. He actively acted as a legislator, and from 1779, he served as the governor of the state (Davidson et a., 2013). During this period, he worked hard on the document called “Notes on the State of Virginia” that became quite important for American culture (Biography of Thomas Jefferson for ELD Students, n.d.). In the document, Jefferson spoke about the incomplete nature of the changes in the United States and pointed out the need for the further democratization of social system (Davidson et a., 2013). It endorsed the developed federal constitution in the case it was complemented with articles on human rights. Jefferson’s legislative initiative led to the adoption of laws: the abolition of the right of primogeniture, the ban of the importation of new slaves into Virginia, and the law on religious freedom. He also proposed to abolish death penalty for almost all crimes, but it was rejected.

After leaving governorship, Jefferson served as the US ambassador in France, and then he became the Secretary of State in the first cabinet of President George Washington in 1789-1793 (Davidson et a., 2013). During the presidential election of 1796, John Adams was the winner (Davidson et a., 2013). The second place belonged to Jefferson, which automatically made him the Vice President. In 1800, came the next presidential election (Davidson et a., 2013). This time, Jefferson defeated Adams and became the third President of the USA. He received a majority in the agrarian states since they were a native environment to him. Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence (Davidson et a., 2013). He was the author of the Declaration of American Independence, the Statute of establishing religious freedom in Virginia, and the founding father of the University of Virginia. These three acts showed his significant contribution in life.

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Conclusion

The life of Thomas Jefferson, a prominent American figure, had many stages, during which he earned a significant place in the history, being the third US President and occupying other positions. He also made a huge contribution to the history with his Declaration of Independence and other documents of national importance. Each of those things had and has an independent significance for his own evolution as a person and for American history as a whole. In general, his track record included a variety of the most important positions: state legislator meeting, Governor, Congressman, Ambassador, the Secretary of State, the US President, and the president of the Philosophical Society. However, more importantly, Thomas Jefferson made great contributions to the development of his country, participating at the same time, in many vital decisions.

 

The main merit of Thomas Jefferson was that not only did he only serve for the benefit and prosperity of his country, where his role was certainly great and significant, but also the international community as a whole. He was a man who lived in the 18th-19th centuries. However, he had quite advanced political and social ideals, such as the prohibition of death penalty, tolerance, the prohibition of the slave trade and slavery, to which modern society had come only recently. Moreover, his activities and his ideas are applied now. Thomas Jefferson created the basis for the development of the USA as a state, which confirms the hypothesis of this paper.

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