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Politics & War

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson
President                                          TERM

1. GEORGE WASHINGTON           1789-1797
2. JOHN ADAMS                             1797-1801
3. THOMAS JEFFERSON                1801-1809
4. JAMES MADISON                       1809-1817
5. JAMES MONROE                        1817-1825

  • Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 at the family home in Shadwell in the Colony of Virginia, the third of ten children.
  • He was of English, and possibly Welsh, descent and was born a British subject.His father Peter Jefferson was a planter and surveyor who died when Jefferson was fourteen; his mother was Jane Randolph.
  • Thomas inherited approximately 5,000 acres (2,000 ha; 7.8 sq mi) of land, including Monticello. He assumed full authority over his property at age 21.
  • Jefferson began his childhood education beside the Randolph children with tutors at Tuckahoe.Thomas’ father, Peter, self-taught, regretting not having a formal education, entered Thomas into an English school early, at age five.
  • In 1752, at age nine, he began attending a local school and also began studying the natural world, for which he grew to love. At this time he began studying Latin, Greek, and French, while also learning to ride horses. Thomas also read books from his father’s modest library.
  • He studied history, science, and the classics .Jefferson entered the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, at age 16 and studied mathematics, metaphysics
  • In early years of study he partied hard but then he applied himself to fifteen hours of study a day. Jefferson improved his French and Greek and his skill at the violin.
  • He graduated two years after starting in 1762. He read the law under Professor Wythe’s tutelage to obtain his law license, while working as a law clerk in his office.
  • He also read a wide variety of English classics and political works.Jefferson was well read in a broad variety of subjects.
  • He had replenished his library with 1,250 titles by 1773, and his collection grew to almost 6,500 volumes in 1814. Writing to John Adams, “I cannot live without books.”
  • Jefferson was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1767 and then lived with his mother at Shadwell. He pursued reforms to slavery. He introduced legislation in 1769 allowing masters to take control over the emancipation of slaves.
  • Jefferson took seven cases for freedom-seeking slaves. He invoked the Natural Law to argue, “everyone comes into the world with a right to his own person and using it at his own will … This is what is called personal liberty, and is given him by the author of nature, because it is necessary for his own sustenance.”
  • The judge cut him off and ruled against his client. He later incorporated this sentiment into the Declaration of Independence He also took on 68 cases for the General Court of Virginia in 1767.
  • On January 1, 1772, Jefferson married his third cousin Martha Wayles Skelton, the 23-year-old widow of Bathurst Skelton.
  • Biographer Dumas Malone described the marriage as the happiest period of Jefferson’s life.
  • During their ten years of marriage, Martha bore six childre. Martha later suffered from ill health, including diabetes, and frequent childbirth further weakened her. A few months after the birth of her last child, she died on September 6, 1782, at the age of 33 with Jefferson at her bedside.
  • Shortly before her death, Martha made Jefferson promise never to marry again, Jefferson was grief-stricken by her death, relentlessly pacing back and forth, nearly to the point of exhaustion.
  • Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence. The document’s social and political ideals were proposed by Jefferson before the inauguration of Washington.
  • At age 33, he was one of the youngest delegates to the Second Continental Congress beginning in 1775 at the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War.
  • He sought out John Adams, an emerging leader of the Congress.They became close friends.On July 4, 1776, the Congress ratified the Declaration, and delegates signed it on August 2; in doing so, they were committing an act of treason against the Crown.
  • Jefferson’s preamble is regarded as an enduring statement of human rights, and the phrase “all men are created equal“.
  • At the start of the Revolution, Jefferson was a Colonel and was named commander of the Albemarle County Militia on September 26, 1775.
  • He was then elected to the Virginia House of Delegates for Albemarle County in September 1776.
  • For nearly three years, he assisted with the constitution and was especially proud of his Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, which forbade state support of religious institutions or enforcement of religious doctrine.The bill failed to pass.
  • In 1778, Jefferson was given the task of revising the state’s laws. He drafted 126 bills in three years, including laws to streamline the judicial system. Jefferson’s proposed statutes provided for general education, which he considered the basis of “republican government”.
  • He had become alarmed that Virginia’s powerful landed gentry were becoming a hereditary aristocracy. He took the lead in abolishing what he called “feudal and unnatural distinctions.”
  • He targeted laws such as entail and primogeniture by which the oldest son inherited all the land. The entail laws made it perpetual: the one who inherited the land could not sell it, but had to bequeath it to his oldest son.
  • As a result, increasingly large plantations, worked by white tenant farmers and by black slaves, gained in size and wealth and political power in the eastern (“Tidewater”) tobacco areas. • Jefferson was elected governor for one-year terms in 1779 and 1780.
  • In 1960, he suffered a heart attack. He was treated by top doctors in India, including his friend Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal.
  • His health started deteriorating and he died on 7 March 1961 at the age of 74, from a cerebral stroke. At that time he was still in office as the Home Minister of India.
  • The United States formed a Congress of the Confederation following victory in the Revolutionary War and a peace treaty with Great Britain in 1783, to which Jefferson was appointed as a Virginia delegate.
  • He advised formation of the Committee of the States to fill the power vacuum when Congress was in recess.In the Congress’s 1783–84 session, Jefferson acted as chairman of committees.
  • He plotted borders for nine new states in their initial stages and wrote an ordinance banning slavery in all the nation’s territories. Congress made extensive revisions, including rejection of the ban on slavery.The provisions banning slavery were known later as the “Jefferson Proviso;” .
  • In 1784, Jefferson was sent by the Congress of the Confederation to join Benjamin Franklin and John Adams in Paris as Minister Plenipotentiary for Negotiating Treaties of Amity and Commerce.
  • Less than a year later he was assigned the additional duty of succeeding Franklin as Minister to France.
  • As the French Revolution began, Jefferson allowed his Paris residence.He was in Paris during the storming of the Bastille.
  • Jefferson left Paris for America in September 1789, intending to return soon; however, President George Washington appointed him the country’s first Secretary of State, forcing him to remain in the nation’s capitol.Jefferson remained a firm supporter of the French Revolution, while opposing its more violent elements.
  • Soon after returning from France, Jefferson accepted Washington’s invitation to serve as Secretary of State. Pressing issues at this time were the national debt and the permanent location of the capital.
  • Hamilton also had bold plans to establish the national credit and a national bank, but Jefferson strenuously opposed this and attempted to undermine his agenda, which nearly led Washington to dismiss him from his cabinet. Jefferson later left the cabinet voluntarily; Washington never forgave him, and never spoke to him again.
  • The second major issue was the capital’s permanent location. Hamilton favored a capital close to the major commercial centers of the Northeast, while Washington, Jefferson, and other agrarians wanted it located to the south.
  • After lengthy deadlock, the Compromise of 1790 was struck, permanently locating the capital on the Potomac River.
  • In May 1792, Jefferson was alarmed at the political rivalries taking shape; he wrote to Washington, urging him to run for re-election that year as a unifying influence.
  • In the presidential campaign of 1796, Jefferson lost the electoral college vote to Federalist John Adams by 71–68 and was elected vice president .
  • Jefferson had previously studied parliamentary law and procedure for 40 years, making him unusually well qualified to serve as presiding officer.
  • During the Adams presidency, the Federalists rebuilt the military, levied new taxes, and enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts. Jefferson believed that these laws were intended to suppress Democratic-Republicans, rather than prosecute enemy aliens, and considered them unconstitutional.
  • Jefferson and Madison moved to Philadelphia and founded the National Gazette in 1791.
  • Jefferson was sworn in by Chief Justice John Marshall at the new Capitol in Washington, D.C. on March 4,1801.
  • Jefferson stressed “equal and exact justice to all men”, minority rights, and freedom of speech, religion, and press.He said that a free and democratic government was “the strongest government on earth”.
  • He began dismantling Hamilton’s Federalist fiscal system .Jefferson’s administration eliminated the whiskey excise and other taxes after closing “unnecessary offices” and cutting “useless establishments and expenses”.
  • After two terms, he had lowered the national debt from $83 million to $57 million.
  • Jefferson pardoned several of those imprisoned under the Alien and Sedition Acts.
  • Jefferson strongly felt the need for a national military university, producing an officer engineering corps for a national defense based on the advancement of the sciences, rather than having to rely on foreign sources for top grade engineers with questionable loyalty.
  • Jefferson was also hoping to bring reform to the Executive branch, replacing Federalists and active opponents throughout the officer corps to promote Republican values
  • American merchant ships had been protected from Barbary Coast pirates by the Royal Navy when the states were British colonies. After independence, however, pirates often captured U.S. merchant ships, pillaged cargoes, and enslaved or held crew members for ransom.
  • Jefferson had opposed paying tribute to the Barbary States since 1785. Following the fleet’s first engagement, he successfully asked Congress for a declaration of war.The subsequent “First Barbary War” was the first foreign war fought by the U.S.
  • Pasha of Tripoli Yusuf Karamanli captured the USS Philadelphia, so Jefferson authorized William Eaton, the U.S. Consul to Tunis, to lead a force to restore the pasha’s older brother to the throne. leading the pasha to sign a treaty that restored peace in the Mediterranean.
  • Spain ceded ownership of the Louisiana territory in 1800 to the more predominant France. Jefferson was greatly concerned that Napoleon’s broad interests in the vast territory would threaten the security of the continent.
  • In early 1803, Jefferson offered Napoleon nearly $10 million for 40,000 square miles (100,000 square kilometers) of tropical territory.
  • Napoleon realized that French military control was impractical over such a vast remote territory, and he was in dire need of funds for his wars on the home front.
  • In early April 1803, he unexpectedly made negotiators a counter-offer to sell 827,987 square miles (2,144,480 square kilometers) of French territory for $15 million, doubling the size of the United States.
  • Following his retirement from the presidency, Jefferson continued his pursuit of educational interests; he sold his vast collection of books to the Library of Congress.
  • Jefferson envisioned a university free of church influences where students could specialize in many new areas not offered at other colleges. In 1819, the 76-year-old Jefferson founded the University of Virginia.
  • Jefferson’s approximately $100,000 of debt weighed heavily on his mind in his final months.His health began to deteriorate in July 1825 and by June 1826, he was confined to bed.
  • During the last hours of his life, he was accompanied by family members and friends. On July 4 at 12:50 p.m., Jefferson died at age 83 on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, and just a few hours before the death of John Adams.