Although Thomas Jefferson was a brilliant man who played an instrumental role in our nation’s struggle for independence, he was also a product of his times.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal …”
~Thomas Jefferson, July 4th 1776
This quote, written by a founding father ignited energy into the hearts of those who desperately craved their independence. These words of his will forever be noted in U.S. history. He writes of an idea not commonly preached in these times. He sparks and inspires a wonderful way of thinking, living and respecting. There is no doubt that he meant this with all his heart, but some things were much easier said than done for Jefferson. This quote can be pinpointed towards slavery and racism. He knew that it was wrong, but was heavily racist. We think of Jefferson as a leader, a hero. Some even believe that the Revolutionary War would not have worked out in our favor, or that our beliefs would be completely different now if he had not participated. No doubt he is a greatly respected and authorized historical figure. Of course this perception is credited to the information that is passed down from generation to generation. With that said, this perception of Thomas Jefferson being an idol, a hero to us all, is now easier to view as an edited, distorted image. This intelligent, inspiring man could possibly be just another hypocrite. He could be a deceiving untrustworthy person, yet he is one of our almighty founding fathers.
Not only is Thomas Jefferson a founding father, he is also the principal author of the Declaration of Independence as well as the third president of the United States. He served in the Continental Congress as a representative for Virginia, served as a war governor of Virginia, then served as a diplomat stationed in Paris. He became the United States Minister to France, and was the first United States Secretary of State, under George Washington’s rule. Jefferson helped organize the Democratic Republican Party, and later was elected vice president. In an attempt to abolish the Alien Sedition Acts, co-wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions. This is because of the time he supported states rights.
Thomas Jefferson was elected president in what was known as the Revolution of 1800, oversaw the purchase of the vast Louisiana Territory from France. He then sent the Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore the new west. Although successful, Jefferson became greatly troubled during his second term. He tried to consistently succeed, but things between America and Britain were reaching new and different heights of trouble. At the time, America was being challenged by Britain, with threats of shipping at sea. Thomas Jefferson’s response was to try economic warfare with his embargo laws. This really was no help, leaving us at a disadvantage in trade. He later signed into law a bill that banned the importation of slaves into the United States.
A leader in the Enlightenment, Jefferson was “a polymath who spoke five languages fluently and was deeply interested in science, invention, architecture, religion and philosophy, interests that led him to the founding of the University of Virginia after his presidency.”( "American Revolution - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) Thomas even designed his very own home. Not just any home, But a huge mansion, a “with a 5,000 acre plantation near Charlottesville, Virginia” (Jackson, Glencoe World History: modern times). This he named Monticello. “While not a notable orator” (Jackson, Glencoe World History: modern times), Jefferson was a talented writer who agreed and shared thoughts with many influential people, mostly throughout America and Europe during his adult life.
Clearly Jefferson was a successful, ambitious, and well educated person. He is highly regarded as a great thinker. He was a renowned contributor to the foundation of the country. He had a large span of knowledge in history, English and…