Thomas Jefferson -- author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, third president of the United States, and founder of the University of Virginia - voiced the aspirations of a new America as no other individual of his era. As a public official, historian, philosopher, and plantation owner, he served his country for over five decades.

Thomas Jefferson was a man of many talents. He was the author of the Declaration of American Independence, a founding father of the United States and the country's third president.Thomas Jefferson was born in Shadwell, Virginia, on 13 April 1743 into a wealthy landowning family. He studied law and practiced until the early 1770s. He served as a magistrate and was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1769 to 1775.By 1774, he was actively involved in organising opposition to British rule, and in his pamphlet 'A Summary View of the Rights of British America' Jefferson articulated the colonial position for independence. As a member of the second Continental Congress, he was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. He returned to Virginia and served as governor from 1779 to 1781.In 1784, Jefferson went to France where he served first as trade commissioner and then as American ambassador. He was in France for four years and witnessed the beginning of the French Revolution.President Jefferson, trying to avoid involving the United States in the European conflict between England and France, responded to the “Chesapeake Affair” by inducing Congress to pass the Embargo Act of 1807. This act created a general Embargo that made illegal all exports from the United States. The Act’s goal was to use economic coercion to avoid war, punish Britain and France, and force them to respect American rights. Unfortunately, the effect of this embargo was not what Jefferson intended. By the spring of 1808, New England ports had nearly shut down and the regional economy headed into a depression, with growing unemployment. In New England and the Middle Atlantic states, ships rotted at the wharves, and in the agricultural areas, particularly in the South, farmers and planters could not sell their cotton crops on the international market.

Writing The Declaration Of Independence.At the Second Continental Congress during the summer of 1776, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia was charged with drafting a formal statement justifying the 13 North American colonies’ break with Great Britain. A member of a five-man committee that also included John Adams and Benjamin Franklin, Jefferson drew up a draft and included Franklin’s and Adams’ corrections. At the time, the Declaration of Independence was regarded as a collective effort of the Continental Congress; Jefferson was not recognized as its principal author until the 1790s.

The Committee of Five presenting their draft to the Congress,Signing the Declaration of Independence, 28th June 1776.

The Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson.Jefferson owned several plantations which were worked by hundreds of slaves. After the death of his wife Martha in 1782, he had a relationship with his slave Sally Hemings and fathered at least one of her children. Historians have lauded Jefferson's public life, noting his primary authorship of the Declaration of Independence during the Revolutionary War, his advocacy of religious freedom and tolerance in Virginia, and the Louisiana Purchase while he was president. Various modern scholars are more critical of Jefferson's private life, often pointing out the discrepancy between his ownership of slaves and his liberal political principles. Presidential scholars consistently rank Jefferson among the greatest presidents.Somewhere in a short span of years during the 1780s and into the early 1790s, a transformation came over Jefferson.The very existence of slavery in the era of the American Revolution presents a paradox, and we have largely been content to leave it at that, since a paradox can offer a comforting state of moral suspended animation. Jefferson animates the paradox. And by looking closely at Monticello, we can see the process by which he rationalized an abomination to the point where an absolute moral reversal was reached and he made slavery fit into America’s national enterprise.We can be forgiven if we interrogate Jefferson posthumously about slavery. It is not judging him by today’s standards to do so. Many people of his own time, taking Jefferson at his word and seeing him as the embodiment of the country’s highest ideals, appealed to him. When he evaded and rationalized, his admirers were frustrated and mystified; it felt like praying to a stone. The Virginia abolitionist Moncure Conway, noting Jefferson’s enduring reputation as a would-be emancipator, remarked scornfully, “Never did a man achieve more fame for what he did not do.”Thomas Jefferson’s mansion stands atop his mountain like the Platonic ideal of a house: a perfect creation existing in an ethereal realm, literally above the clouds. To reach Monticello, you must ascend what a visitor called “this steep, savage hill,” through a thick forest and swirls of mist that recede at the summit, as if by command of the master of the mountain. “If it had not been called Monticello,” said one visitor, “I would call it Olympus, and Jove its occupant.” The house that presents itself at the summit seems to contain some kind of secret wisdom encoded in its form. Seeing Monticello is like reading an old American Revolutionary manifesto the emotions still rise. This is the architecture of the New World, brought forth by its guiding spirit.After leaving Washington, Thomas Jefferson spent the last two decades of his life at Monticello. He died on July 4, 1826--hours before his good friend and former political rival John Adams--on the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

Comment Box is loading comments...
Created with Mozello - the world's easiest to use website builder.