Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743, Sheduell, Virginia – July 4, 1826, Monticello, ibid), an American politician, educator, and the third U.S. president (1801-1809), ideologist of the democratic trend of the American Revolution, author of the Declaration of Independence USA, one of the founding fathers of the United States.

Thomas Jefferson was a native of the American South, his relatives on the maternal side were rich planters, and he owned slaves and a plantation, although it was an ideological opponent of slavery. Thomas received good, well-rounded education. After graduating from the College of William and Mary (1762), he studied law and in 1767 was admitted to practice law. In 1769-1775 the young lawyer was elected a member of the House of Representatives, Virginia. In response to the intolerable laws (Intolerable Acts), he wrote a pamphlet in 1774, “Overview of the Rights of British America, in which he claimed that the British Parliament has no right to make laws for the colonies. This pamphlet pushed him to the front ranks of American patriots. Jefferson was one of the founders of the Virginia Committee of Correspondence. In 1775 he was elected a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, which was headed by a committee of five people on the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, adopted on July 4, 1776, and became its principal author. He, in particular, said the words of the Declaration: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (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). Enunciated in the Declaration of Human Rights Jefferson intended to be extended to the black slaves, which actively opposed the slave-plantation. He was active in the democratization of Virginia, in the years 1776-1779, as a member of the local chamber of representatives, engaged in land reform laws: in its proposal were eliminated the vestiges of feudalism in land ownership – primogeniture, semi-feudal rent, bans on the sale of land. Thomas Jefferson was the author of the “Statute of Religious Freedom,” has worked hard for its adoption, which had an effect on consolidation in the Constitution provisions on the separation of church and state. In 1779-1781, he served as governor of Virginia, but was unable to organize a decent resistance advancing British forces almost captured. Sharp criticism of his actions forced Jefferson to resign. Disappointed, he vowed never to hold public office. In 1781-1782 worked on Jefferson, “Notes on the State of Virginia” (1785), and numerous editions and translations of this work secured him fame scientist of encyclopedic. Again becoming a member of the Continental Congress (1783-1785), in 1784 Thomas Jefferson proposed nationalization of land in the West, and to prohibit slavery in all new states to join the U.S.. This proposal was accepted only to the Northwest Territories, where Jefferson drafted the law on the principles of their devices in the United States.


In the years 1785-1789 Jefferson was the U.S. ambassador to France, succeeding Benjamin Franklin. George Washington was elected president of the United States, appointed by Secretary of State Jefferson (1790-1793), in his first Cabinet. Jefferson welcomed the French Revolution, but he considered it appropriate for the U.S. to hold neutrality toward the European conflict.

Thomas Jefferson was an outstanding representative of the radical wing of the Enlightenment of the 18th century. Representing the interests of farmers and petty bourgeoisie, pointed to the need for a democratic solution of the agrarian question, the abolition of slavery, the granting of political rights to all the people. Constitution of 1787 he considered insufficiently democratic, needs to be supplemented, “Bill of Rights.” In private property – this “natural law” of man – he saw the foundation of the harmony of interests of society. Influenced by the ideas of the Physiocrats, Jefferson highly of the role of agriculture, including its main area of ​​creation of wealth. On this issue, Jefferson waged a long debate with the leader of the Federalist Alexander Hamilton, who represented the interests of the bourgeoisie, the north-eastern states, which was interested in the development of the industry.

With the birth of the first political parties Thomas Jefferson was the leader of Democratic (Jeffersonian) Republicans who spoke against the infringement of the rights of states and representing the interests of farmers and small producers. As Secretary of State, he sharply conflict with Alexander Hamilton. Two prominent American politician in many ways looking at the foreign policy of the country, to interpret the U.S. Constitution. Their differences have stimulated the formation of groups of political supporters, and then parties. In the end, the conflict with the Secretary of State Hamilton forced to retire. Jefferson led the opposition Democratic-Republican Party, whose populist slogans resonated in the general population. Strong public support allowed Jefferson to return to the corridors of power – under President John Adams (1797-1801), he served as Vice President of the United States. He was an opponent of the conservative policy pursued by Adams, opposed the reactionary laws on aliens and sedition (1798). Text of Virginia-Kentucky resolutions adopted by the legislatures of the states in protest against these laws in 1798 and 1799 respectively was written by the vice-president of the United States, along with James Madison. In these years, Jefferson wrote “Textbook of “Manual of Parliamentary Practice”.

In the next presidential election in 1800, Thomas Jefferson announced his candidacy against Adams (who considered the move a betrayal) and scored the same number of votes in the electoral college with another presidential candidate – Aaron Burr. The issue was referred to the House of Representatives, which in the 36th ballot opted Jefferson. He called the victory a “revolution in 1800.”

White House Thomas Jefferson was from March 4, 1801 to March 4, 1809. As president, he called for national unity, consensus among the political parties for the good of the country. The new president held a moderate, pragmatic politics of compromise between all sectors of society. Were reduced army, navy, reduced public debt, canceled reactionary laws passed by his predecessor John Adams. Reduction unit of the federal government has an objective to reduce its impact on the state. As president, Jefferson ignored strict ceremonies and formalities, which were then, surrounded the life and activity of the head of state. Pragmatic look at the problems of the U.S. economy, Jefferson rejected the idea of ​​a “Republic of smallholders” and said that “agriculture, textiles, trade and shipping – the four pillars of our prosperity.” He recognized the need for the development of American industry, advocated a strict balance between agriculture, industry, trade, banks, understood the importance of a balanced budget execution. Moving away from the principle of non-intervention in the economy, the president instead of translating the ideas he had once championed free trade followed the policy of protectionism.

In foreign policy, Jefferson’s presidency was marked by the acquisition from France for $ 15 million of Louisiana (1803) nearly doubled the U.S., and the establishment of diplomatic relations with Russia (1808-1809). American settlers actively mastered frontier. In the years 1804-1806 the transcontinental expedition M. Lewis and William Clark explored the land in western North America and went to the Pacific coast.

Thomas Jefferson easily won the presidential election in 1804. However, the second term in office was marred by internal and external turmoil. Division of the country and the international complications threatened conspiracy of Aaron Burr (1805-1807). Napoleonic wars complicate U.S. foreign policy position. Americans were eager to develop trade with Europe, but the British and French navy seized the American merchant ships, accusing them of violating the neutrality and aiding the enemy. In an effort to put an end to the U.S. President in December 1807 signed the Act of the embargo. Prohibiting the export of goods from the U.S., Jefferson believed that this measure embarrasses Britain and France will make them to make concessions. Embargo (in force until the spring of 1809) almost did not affect the interests of the European powers, but damaged the American economy, has caused discontent within the country and weakened the position of the ruling Democratic-Republican Party. Weakening public support led to the curtailment of the actual Jefferson socio-economic transformation.

After resigning, Thomas Jefferson, his last 17 years of his life in Monticello estate, which was built by his own design. Here the “Sage of Monticello,” as John Adams called it, happy to do science, studied the philosophical treatises, create architectural designs that enjoy playing the violin, aeronautics, botany, geology, received numerous visitors, and conducted extensive (more than a thousand letters a month) correspondence with American and European politicians, scientists and public figures. In 1812, he made his peace with John Adams and they entered into a lengthy correspondence, exchanging views on political and philosophical issues. A man of varied interests and knowledge, Thomas Jefferson in 1797-1815 he was the president of the American Philosophical Society. His collection of books, numbering 6,500 volumes, and reputed to be the best in America, marked the beginning of the Library of Congress. Achievements of the last years of his life were the creation of the University of Virginia. Jefferson was prepared by the architectural project of the university complex, established a constitution and detailed curriculum, formed faculty. Along with Benjamin Franklin, Jefferson recognized the outstanding representative of the Enlightenment in the U.S.

Jefferson died on the anniversary of the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, on the same day within hours of death, and John Adams. On a gray granite obelisk grave in the cemetery of Jefferson at Monticello knocked epitaph composed by him, did not mention about any of Jefferson’s public office, but pointed to three accomplishments that he most admired – the Declaration of Independence, the Statute of Religious Freedom, and University of Virginia. In his honor, named the city, the river and the mountain, colleges and universities, the streets and squares of cities. The memory of Jefferson immortalized in the memorial opened in Washington for the 200th anniversary of his birth. Inside this domed building with columns, built in his beloved classic style, stands nearly six-meter statue of Thomas Jefferson, and the walls are decorated with his sayings.