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Thomas Jefferson 4 Essay, Research Paper

Jefferson, Thomas

1743-1826, 3d president of the U.S. (1801-9); b. Goochland (now in Albemarle) co., Va. A member (1769-75) of the Virginia house of burgesses, he was a leader of the patriot faction. At the Second CONTINENTAL CONGRESS he drafted the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, a historic document that reflects his debt to John LOCKE and other philosophers. In 1779 he became governor of Virginia, guiding that state through the troubled last years of the AMERICAN REVOLUTION. A member (1783-84) of the Continental Congress, Jefferson drafted a plan for decimal coinage and drew up an ordinance for the Northwest Territory that formed the basis for the ORDINANCE OF 1787. In 1785 he became minister to France. Appointed secretary of state (1790-93) in Pres. WASHINGTON’s cabinet, Jefferson defended agrarian interests against the Federalist policies of Alexander HAMILTON and led a group called the Republicans-antecedents of the present DEMOCRATIC PARTY. He served as vice president (1797-1801) and protested the passage of the ALIEN AND SEDITION ACTS by writing the Kentucky Resolutions (see KENTUCKY AND VIRGINIA RESOLUTIONS). The Republicans triumphed at the polls in 1800, but Aaron BURR, who had been slated to become vice president, tied Jefferson in the presidential vote. Jefferson was finally chosen president by the House of Representatives, largely on the advice of Hamilton, who considered Jefferson less dangerous than Burr. Jefferson was the first president inaugurated in Washington, a city he had helped to plan. He instituted a republican simplicity in the city and cut federal expenditures. He believed that the federal government should be concerned mainly with foreign affairs, leaving local matters to the states and local authorities. Usually strict in interpreting the Constitution, he pushed through the LOUISIANA PURCHASE of 1803, an action that it did not expressly authorize. He also planned the LEWIS AND CLARK EXPEDITION. During his second administration, difficulties arose from attacks on neutral U.S. shipping by the warring powers of Britain and France. With such measures as the EMBARGO ACT of 1807 he tried to use economic pressure to gain a solution, but this aroused strong opposition in the U.S. In retirement after 1809 at his beloved home, Monticello, Jefferson brought about the founding of the Univ. of Virginia and continued his lifelong interests in science, architecture, philosophy, and the arts.


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