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Revision as of 11:08, 12 November 2015

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Thomas Jefferson (April 13 [O.S. April 2] 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American Founding Father, principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and third President of the United States (1801–1809). A proponent of democracy, Jefferson embraced the concepts of republicanism and individual rights. During the American Revolution, he represented Virginia in the Continental Congress and later served as a wartime Governor of Virginia (1779–1781). In May 1785, he became the United States Minister to France and subsequently the first United States Secretary of State from 1790–1793, serving under President George Washington. Jefferson and James Madison organized the Democratic-Republican Party to oppose the Federalist Party led by Alexander Hamilton in the formation of the First Party System. He was elected to the office of Vice President in 1796, the second in history, serving in the administration of President John Adams. Jefferson and Madison secretly wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1798–1799, documents intended to nullify the Alien and Sedition Acts; the resolutions were passed by the Federalist-controlled United States Congress.

As a Democratic-Republican, he was elected the third President of the United States in the election of 1800. After peace negotiations with France, his administration reduced military forces. Three years later he waged a brief naval campaign against the Barbary Coast states in North Africa to defend American shipping. During his presidency, the United States purchased the vast western Louisiana Territory from Napoleonic France (1803), and sent out the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806) to explore the new West. His second term was beset with difficulties at home, including the failed treason trial of former Vice President Aaron Burr. Also, American foreign trade was diminished when Jefferson signed and implemented the Embargo Act of 1807, in response to British threats to U.S. shipping. In 1803, Jefferson initiated a controversial process of Indian tribe removal to the newly organized Louisiana Territory west of the Mississippi River. In 1807, he signed into law the intensely debated Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves that banned slave importation into the United States.

A champion of the Age of Enlightenment, Jefferson, was diversely talented in the arts, sciences, agriculture and politics. He was a proven architect in the classical tradition, and designed his home Monticello, the Virginia State Capitol and other important buildings. His keen interest in religion and philosophy also earned him the presidency of the American Philosophical Society. Besides English, he was well versed in Latin, Greek, French, Italian and Spanish.

He founded the University of Virginia in his retirement from public office. Although ineffectual as an orator, Jefferson was a skilled writer and corresponded with many influential people in America and Europe. Most historians believe that after the death of his wife Martha in 1782, he had a long-term relationship with his female slave Sally Hemings, and fathered at least some of her children.

In the aggregate, Jefferson is ranked by historians as the fifth most successful President.

Early life and career


Tuckahoe Plantation, Jefferson's childhood home for 7 years

Jefferson was born the third of ten children, on April 13, 1743 (April 2, 1743 OS) at the family home in Shadwell, Virginia.[1] His father was Peter Jefferson, a planter and surveyor who died when Jefferson was fourteen. His mother was Jane Randolph, daughter of Isham Randolph, a ship's captain and planter. He showed little interest in learning about his ancestry; on his father's side he only knew of the existence of his grandfather.[2][3]Template:Efn Jefferson's earliest memory was being handed to a slave on horseback and carried 50 miles away to their new home which overlooked the Rivanna River in current Albemarle County. His facial appearance resembled that of his father but his slim physique was typical of his mother's family.[2] He was of English and possible Welsh descent.[3]

Peter Jefferson's friend William Randolph died a widower in 1745, having appointed Peter as guardian to manage his Tuckahoe Plantation and care for his four children. That year the Jeffersons relocated to Tuckahoe where they lived for the next seven years before returning to Shadwell in 1752. Peter Jefferson died in 1757 and the Jefferson estate was divided between Peter's two sons, Thomas and Randolph.[4] Thomas inherited approximately Template:Convert of land, including Monticello, and between 20 and 40 slaves, and unfettered control of the property at age 21.[5]


Template:Main Jefferson began his childhood education beside the Randolph children with tutors at Tuckahoe.[6] In 1752, he began attending a local school run by a Scottish Presbyterian minister. At age nine, he initiated his study of Latin, Greek, and French; he learned to ride horses, and began nature studies. He was taught from 1758 to 1760 by Reverend James Maury near Gordonsville, Virginia while boarding with Maury's family and there studied history, science and the classics.[7]

Wren Building (rear), College of William & Mary where Jefferson studied

Jefferson entered the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia at age 16, and studied mathematics, metaphysics and philosophy under Professor William Small. Small introduced him to the British Empiricists including John Locke, Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton. He also improved his French, Greek and his skill at the violin. Jefferson graduated in 1762, completing his studies in two years. Through Small he made the acquaintance of law professor George Wythe.[8] Jefferson read the law under the tutelage of Wythe to obtain his law license, while working as a law clerk in Wythe's office. He also read a wide variety of English classics and political works.

Jefferson treasured his books, and in 1770 his Shadwell home, including a library of 200 volumes inherited from his father, was destroyed by fire;[9] nevertheless, by 1773 he replenished his library with 1,250 titles, and in 1815 his collection had grown to almost 6,500 volumes, including some inherited from George Wythe.[10] He thus accumulated thousands of books for his library at Monticello. After the British burned the Library of Congress in 1814, he sold more than 6,000 books to the Library for $23,950. Then realizing he was no longer in possession of such a grand collection, he wrote to John Adams, "I cannot live without books". He had intended to pay off some of his large debt, yet started buying more books.

Marriage, family and Monticello

On January 1, 1772 Jefferson married his third cousin Martha Wayles Skelton, the 23-year-old widow of Bathurst Skelton.[11][12] Their marriage took place at the house of Martha's father and was conducted by the Reverend William Coutts.[13] She was a frequent hostess for Jefferson, managed the large household and their joyful marriage is considered the happiest period of his life.[14] Martha read widely, did fine needle work and was an skilled pianist; Jefferson, who was accomplished on the violin and cello, often accompanied her musically.[15] It is said that she was attracted to him largely because of their mutual love of music.[16][17] During their ten years of marriage, Martha bore six children: Martha "Patsy" (1772–1836); Jane (1774–1775); a son who lived for only a few weeks in 1777; Mary Wayles "Polly" (1778–1804); Lucy Elizabeth (1780–1781); and another Lucy Elizabeth (1782–1785). Only Martha and Mary survived more than a few years.[18] After her father John Wayles died in 1773, Martha and her husband inherited 135 slaves, Template:Convert and the debts of his estate. These took Jefferson and other co-executors of the estate years to satisfy, which contributed to his own financial problems.[11]

Jefferson's home, Monticello

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. He was so distraught that in the following three weeks he shut himself in his room, where he paced back and forth nearly to the point of exhaustion. Later he often took long rides on secluded roads to mourn for his wife.[18][19] Martha's mother had died young, and as a girl Martha lived with two stepmothers. Shortly before her death, she told Jefferson that she could not bear to have another mother raise her children, and pleaded with him to never to marry again. He made and kept a solemn promise in that regard.[20][21]

Jefferson in 1768 had begun construction of his primary residence Monticello (Italian for "Little Mountain") on a hilltop overlooking a 5,000 acre plantation.Template:Efn Construction was done mostly by local masons and carpenters, appreciably assisted by Jefferson's slaves.[22] He moved into the South Pavilion in 1770, where his wife Martha joined him in 1772. Turning Monticello into a neoclassical masterpiece in the Palladian style was his perennial project.[23]

Jefferson mastered architecture through self-study, using various books and classical architectural designs of the day. His primary authority was Andrea Palladio's The Four Books of Architecture, which exposed him to the principles of classical design.[24][25] While serving as Minister to France, Jefferson had the opportunity to survey the foremost classical buildings he had reviewed in his reading, as well the "modern" trends in French architecture then fashionable in Paris. After working as Secretary of State (1790–93), he began rebuilding Monticello based on the concepts he had acquired in Europe. The remodeling continued throughout most of his presidency, the most notable change being the octagonal dome.[26][27]

Lawyer and House of Burgesses

House of Burgesses in Williamsburg, VA where Jefferson served 1769–1775

Jefferson was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1767 and then lived with his mother at Shadwell.[28] His law practice included clients from his mother's family, the Randolphs.,[29] and his work took him throughout the Shenandoah Valley.[30] The fire at Shadwell had also claimed his legal papers and notes for the coming term of court, and though he was frantic, George Wythe consoled him with a line from Virgil, "Carry on, and preserve yourselves for better times."[31]

In addition to practicing law Jefferson represented Albemarle County as a delegate in the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1769 until 1775.[32] He proved more willing to reform slavery in his early career than later when he became a more substantial slaveholder. In 1769 he introduced legislation allowing masters to assume full control over the emancipation of slaves, taking the discretion away from the royal Governor and his General Court. Jefferson had persuaded his cousin Richard Bland to spearhead the legislation's passage, but the reaction in the House was strongly negative. He recalled Bland was "treated with the grossest indecorum."[33]

Jefferson worked on a number of lawsuits on behalf of freedom-seeking slaves.[34] He took the case of Samuel Howell without charging him a fee.[35] Howell, of inter-racial grandparents, claimed he should be freed before the statutory age of thirty-one required for emancipation in such a case. Jefferson, invoking Natural Law, argued, "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 hearing the Howell case abruptly cut him off and ruled against his client. As a consolation, Jefferson gave Howell some money, presumably used to aid his escape shortly thereafter.[35] Jefferson later successfully incorporated the argument into the Declaration of Independence.[36]

Although earlier discouraged, smallpox inoculation began in 1768–1769 in Norfolk County, Virginia, and precipitated riots. Jefferson defended the riots' victims, including Dr. Archibald Campbell whose house was burned. Jefferson, himself inoculated at age 23, gave up his law practice before the case was resolved, but later served on a General Assembly committee which sought to reduce the 1769 restrictions on the inoculations.[37]

Following the passage of the Intolerable Acts by the British Parliament in 1774, Jefferson wrote a resolution against the acts calling for The day of Fasting and Prayer in protest. The resolution also called for a boycott of all British goods. These were later expanded into A Summary View of the Rights of British America, in which he expressed his belief that people had the right to govern themselves.[38]

Political career 1775–1800

Declaration of Independence

U.S. Declaration of Independence - 1823 facsimile of the engrossed copy

Jefferson served as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress beginning in 1775 at the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War.[39] He sought out John Adams who, along with the latter's cousin Samuel, had emerged as a leader of the Congress.[40] Jefferson and Adams established a permanent friendship which led to Jefferson primary drafting of the Declaration of Independence. Adams supported Jefferson's appointment to the Committee of Five formed to write the formal Declaration in furtherance of the Lee Resolution passed by the Congress.[41] After discussing the general outline of the document, the committee decided that Jefferson would write the first draft. The committee in general, and Jefferson in particular, thought Adams should write the document, but Adams persuaded the committee to choose Jefferson. Though he was reluctant to take the assignment, he agreed and Adams promised to consult with him upon completion.Template:Efn

Consulting with other committee members over the next seventeen days, Jefferson also drew on his own proposed draft of the Virginia Constitution, George Mason's draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights and other sources.[42] The other committee members made some changes; most notably, Jefferson had written, "We hold these truths to be sacred and un-deniable ..." which Franklin changed to read, "We hold these truths to be self-evident."[43] A final draft was presented to the Congress on June 28, 1776.

Congress debated the Declaration and deleted nearly a fourth of the text, most notably a passage critical of the slave trade.[44] While Jefferson resented the changes, he did not speak publicly about the revisions. Template:Efn On July 4, 1776, the Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence and the delegates signed the document on August 2. The Declaration is considered one of Jefferson's major achievements; his preamble is regarded as an enduring statement of human rights. Indeed, the phrase "all men are created equal" has been called "one of the best-known sentences in the English language" containing "the most potent and consequential words in American history".[44][45]

Jefferson viewed the independence of the American people from the mother country Britain as breaking away from "parent stock", and that the War of Independence from Britain was a natural outcome of being separated by the Atlantic Ocean.[46] In his view, English colonists were compelled to rely on "common sense" and rediscover the "laws of nature".[46] He also maintained the Independence of the original British colonies was part of a historical pattern following a similar divergence when the Saxons left their mother country Europe hundreds of years earlier and colonized Britain.[46]

Virginia state legislator and Governor

After the colonies declared their Independence, Jefferson was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates for Albemarle County in September 1776, where the finalization of a state constitution was a priority.[47][48] He commented on the drafting of the constitution, saying he supported freehold suffrage, by which only landowners could vote. For nearly three years, he assisted with the constitution. He was especially proud of the Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom.[49] He served as a Delegate until 1779. Another object of importance to him was to disestablish the Anglican church in Virginia, but this was not done until 1786, while he was in France as US Minister.[50] After Thomas Ludwell Lee died in 1778 Jefferson was given the task of studying and revising the state's laws. Jefferson drafted 126 bills in three years, including laws to establish fee simple tenure in land and to streamline the judicial system. Jefferson's statutes abolished primogeniture and provided for general education, which he considered the basis of "republican government."[47] His "Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge" led to some small changes at the College of William & Mary, and reduced control by clergy.[51]

Governor's Palace - Governor Jefferson's residence in Williamsburg

In 1779, at the age of thirty-six, Jefferson was elected Governor of Virginia by the two houses of the legislature for a term of one year, then re-elected for an additional year.[52] As governor in 1780, he transferred the state capital from Williamsburg to Richmond. A range of measures were introduced by Jefferson during his time as Governor of Virginia, including public education, inheritance laws and religious freedom. He served as a wartime governor, as the united colonies continued the Revolutionary War against Great Britain, and prepared Richmond in 1780 for an attack, by moving all military supplies to a foundry located five miles outside of town. In January 1781 General Benedict Arnold captured the foundry during his invasion of Richmond. Jefferson called for the Virginia militia to defend the city, but when the defense arrived, led by Sampson Mathews, it was too late to prevent the siege.[53] Jefferson evacuated Richmond as the armies engaged.[54]

Cornwallis that spring dispatched a 250-man cavalry force led by Banastre Tarleton on a secret expedition to capture the Governor and members of the Assembly at Monticello but Jack Jouett of the Virginia militia thwarted the British plan. Jefferson escaped to Poplar Forest, his plantation to the west.[55] His gubernatorial term expired in June and he spent much of the summer with his family at Poplar Forest. His tenure as governor in general, and his decision to flee the capital in particular, has been criticized.[56] The members of the General Assembly quickly reconvened in June 1781 in Staunton, Virginia across the Blue Ridge Mountains, and considered an official inquiry into Jefferson's actions, as they believed he had failed his responsibilities as governor. Jefferson was not re-elected.[48] In that year also his daughter Lucy died at age one. A second daughter of that name was born the following year but died as well at age 3.[57]

Notes on the State of Virginia

Template:Main Jefferson received a letter of inquiry in 1780 about the geography, history and government of Virginia from French diplomat François Barbé-Marbois, who was gathering data on the United States. Jefferson included his written responses in a book, Notes on the State of Virginia (1785).[58] He compiled the book over five years, including reviews of scientific knowledge, Virginia's history, politics, laws, culture and geography. He was assisted by Thomas Walker, George R. Clark and geographer Thomas Hutchins.[59] The book is his argument about what constitutes a good society, which he believed was embodied in Virginia. It also included extensive data about the state's natural resources and its economy. He as well wrote extensively about slavery, miscegenation and his belief that blacks and whites could not live together as free people in one society because of resentments over slavery.[60][61] He said that, "Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had chosen a people."[62][63] In 1785 Jefferson's NotesTemplate:' was anonymously published in Paris in a limited French edition of a few hundred copies. Its first public English edition, issued by John Stockdale in London, appeared in 1787.[64]

Member of Congress

Independence Hall Assembly Room where Jefferson served in Congress

Following its victory in the Revolutionary War and peace treaty with Great Britain in 1783, the United States formed a Continental Congress to which Jefferson was appointed as a Virginia delegate. As a member of the committee setting foreign exchange rates, he recommended an American currency based on the decimal system and his plan was adopted.[65] He also advised formation of the Committee of the States, to fill the power vacuum when Congress was in recess.[66] When Congress adjourned the following June, the Committee met but within two months disagreements divided the members. Jefferson learned of the ordeal while in France, and spoke to Franklin who compared the Committee to a "needed light house" and its members to a "raging sea", rendering it inaccessible and dysfunctional.[67]

In the 1783–84 session of the Congress Jefferson acted as chairman of important committees, to establish a viable system of government for the new Republic, and propose a policy for the settlement of the western territories. Jefferson was the principal author of the Land Ordinance of 1784 whereby Virginia ceded to the national government the vast area it claimed northwest of the Ohio River. He insisted this territory not be used as colonial territory by any of the thirteen states, but that it be divided into sections which could become states.[68] He plotted borders for nine new states in their initial stages and also wrote an ordinance banning slavery in all the nation's territories. Congress made extensive revisions including rejection of the ban of slavery. Jefferson thought that Congress had "mutilated" his work, but accepted the majority's changes.[69][70] The provisions banning slavery, known later as the Jefferson Proviso, were modified and implemented three years later in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and became the law for the entire Northwest.[69]

Minister to France

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson while in London in 1786, by Mather Brown

Jefferson was sent by the Confederation CongressTemplate:Efn to join Benjamin Franklin and John Adams as ministers in Europe for negotiation of trade agreements with England, Spain, and France. Some believed the recently widowed Jefferson was depressed and that the assignment would distract him from his wife's death.[71] Taking his young daughter Patsy and two servants, he departed from Boston in July of 1784 and arrived in Paris the next month.[68][72] Jefferson taught himself to read and write Spanish during the nineteen-day voyage, using a copy of Don Quixote.[73]

Four days after his arrival, Jefferson rode out to Passy to greet Franklin.[74] When the French foreign minister, the Count de Vergennes, commented to Jefferson, "You replace Monsieur Franklin, I hear," Jefferson replied, "I succeed him. No man can replace him."[75][76] Franklin resigned as minister to France in March 1785, and departed in July after a ceremony at Passy.[77]

Jefferson had Patsy educated at the Pentemont Abbey; he taught her French and helped her with her studies. To serve the household, Jefferson brought some of his slaves, including James Hemings, whom he had trained in French cuisine.[78] In 1786, Jefferson, through his artist friend John Trumbull, met and fell in love with Maria Cosway, an accomplished, and married, Italian-English musician of 27. They saw each other frequently over a period of six weeks. She returned to Great Britain, but they maintained a lifelong correspondence.[79] Jefferson sent for his youngest surviving child, nine-year-old Polly, in June 1787. She was accompanied by Sally Hemings, a slave and younger sister of James. That year he suffered a fall and fractured his right wrist, requiring him to write with his left hand, at least for a time.[80]

While in France he became a regular companion of Lafayette, and used his influence to procure trade agreements with France. Duties on whale oil were removed, and Jefferson directed more of the tobacco trade directly to France eliminating British intermediaries.[81][82] He often dined with many of the city's prominent people, and accumulated various wines for return to the United States.[83] Jefferson corresponded with many pivotal supporters of revolution including the Comte de Mirabeau, a popular pamphleteer who repeated ideals that had been the basis for the American Revolution.[84][85] He wrote a letter to Edward Carrington expressing similar concepts he held of the natural tendencies of government and its relationship to the people, saying in one instance, "the natural process of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground."[86]

As the French Revolution began, Jefferson allowed his Paris residence, the Hôtel de Langeac, to be used for meetings by Lafayette and other republicans; he was in Paris during the storming of the Bastille.[87] Jefferson often found his mail opened and inspected by various postmasters, so he began to write his important messages using a code, and invented his own enciphering device, the "Wheel Cipher".[88] Indeed, he wrote important communications in codes the remainder of his career.[89] Jefferson left Paris in September 1789, he thought temporarily,[90] but was prevented from returning by virtue of his appointment as the nation's chief diplomat.[91] He remained a firm supporter of the French Revolution, although he was opposed to some of its very violent elements.[92]

Secretary of State

Template:See also

Thomas Jefferson
Portrait by Charles Peale, 1791

Soon after Jefferson's return from France, he accepted President Washington's invitation to serve as Secretary of State.[93] In his new position, Jefferson strongly opposed Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton on issues of national fiscal policy, especially the funding of war debts.[94] He later associated Hamilton's Federalist Party with "Royalism," and said the "Hamiltonians were panting after ... crowns, coronets and mitres."[95]

The first major issues before the Cabinet were the national debt and the permanent location of the capital. Jefferson had always opposed the mounting debt. Hamilton, desirous of the national government consolidating the various states' debts, proposed his Assumption bill to which Jefferson found objection.[96] They also differed on the permanent location of the capital. Hamilton wanted the capital close to the major commercial centers of the Northeast, whereas Washington and Jefferson, along with other agrarians, wanted it located to the south. After much deliberation, the Compromise of 1790 was struck at a private dinner including Madison. Under the terms of this agreement, the nation's capital was located on the Potomac River, and the federal government assumed the war debts of all 13 states.[97]

In May 1792 Jefferson was alarmed at the political rivalries taking shape, and wrote to Washington, urging him to run for re-election that year as a unifying influence: "The confidence of the whole nation is centred in you. You being at the helm will be more than an answer to every argument which can be used to alarm and lead the people, in any quarter, into violence or secession."[98] He entreated the president to rally the citizenry to a party that would defend democracy against the corrupting influence of banks and monied interests, as espoused by the Federalists. Historians recognize this letter as the earliest delineation of Democratic-Republican Party principles.[99] In their opposition to Hamilton, Jefferson and other Democratic-Republican organizers favored states' rights and local control, and sought to prevent concentration of power in a administrative republic. He continued to work closely with Madison to strengthen the party.Template:Sfn

The French minister Citizen Genet said in 1793: "Senator Morris and Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton ... had the greatest influence over the President's mind, and that it was only with difficulty that he [Jefferson] counterbalanced their efforts."[100] Jefferson supported France against Britain when they fought in 1793.[101] He believed that political success at home depended on victory for the French army in Europe, with reservation as to the brutality of the French Revolution.

During his discussions with George Hammond, first British Minister to the U.S. beginning in 1791, Jefferson tried unsuccessfully to obtain British agreement, 1) to acknowledge their violation of the Treaty of Paris, 2) to vacate their posts in the Northwest and 3) to compensate the United States for slaves whom the British had freed at the end of the war. In keeping with a passion for his private life, Jefferson resigned the cabinet position in December 1793. He is also said to have considered it an opportune time to bolster his political influence from outside the administration. Future developments indeed bore that out.[102]

From his base at Monticello, he organized nationwide opposition to the Jay Treaty of 1794, thereby giving his party a bona fide cause to harness in combatting the Federalists.[103] The treaty was designed by Hamilton and supported by Washington; it aimed to reduce tensions and enhance friendly relations as well as trade with Britain. Jefferson warned that it would increase British influence and subvert republicanism, saying, "Thus it is, that Hamilton, Jay, etc., in the boldest act they ever ventured on to undermine the government ... A bolder party stroke was never struck."[104] The Treaty passed, but he made sure it was not renewed when it expired in 1805. Jefferson continued his pro-French stance; during the violence of the Reign of Terror in France, he declined to disavow the revolution because "To back away from France would be to undermine the cause of republicanism in America."[105]

Election of 1796 and Vice Presidency


1796 Electoral College Vote

In the presidential campaign of 1796 Jefferson lost the electoral college vote to Federalist John Adams by 71–68, and he was thereby elected as Vice President. He initially intended to forego the swearing-in ceremony, which he thought monarchical, but relented.[106] As the commensurate presiding officer of the Senate, Jefferson assumed a more passive role than Adams had as Vice President. He allowed the Senate to freely conduct debates and confined his participation to issues of procedure which brought him an "honorable and easy" role. He was concerned about the absence of rules as to his authority over the Senate. Years before holding this premier office, Jefferson had studied parliamentary law and procedure for forty years, and had transcribed notes on parliamentary law into a manual which he entitled Parliamentary Pocket Book, making him uniquely qualified to preside in the Senate.[107] He had also served on the committee appointed to draw up the rules of order for the Continental Congress in 1776 and as Vice President, he was able to formulate some Senatorial procedures.

With the Quasi-War underway, the Federalists under John Adams 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 also thought they were unconstitutional, saying, "The violations of the Constitution, propensities to war, to expense ... which we have lately seen, are becoming evident to the people ..."[108] To rally opposition, he and Madison anonymously wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions respectively, declaring that the federal government had no right to exercise powers not specifically delegated to it by the states.[109] Though the resolutions followed the "interposition" approach of Madison, Jefferson advocated nullification. Jefferson's Kentucky draft said: "where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy: that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, (casus non fœderis) to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits.".[110]

In writing the Kentucky Resolutions, Jefferson warned that, "unless arrested at the threshold," the Alien and Sedition Acts would "necessarily drive these states into revolution and blood."[111] Historian Chernow has opined that the theoretical damage of the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions was "deep and lasting, and was a recipe for disunion."[112] Washington was so appalled by them that he told Patrick Henry that if "systematically and pertinaciously pursued", they would "dissolve the union or produce coercion."[113] The influence of Jefferson's doctrine of states' rights is said to have reverberated to the Civil War and beyond.[114]

He held four confidential talks with the French consul Joseph Letombe in the spring of 1797. In these meetings, Jefferson attacked Adams, predicted that he would only serve one term, and encouraged France to invade England. Jefferson advised Letombe to stall any American envoys sent to Paris by instructing him to "listen to them and then drag out the negotiations at length and mollify them by the urbanity of the proceedings." This toughened the tone that the French government adopted with the new Adams administration. Due to pressure on the Adams administration from Jefferson and his supporters, Congress released the papers related to the XYZ Affair, which rallied a shift in popular opinion from Jefferson and the French government to the support of Adams.[114]

Election of 1800

1800 Electoral college vote

Template:Main The presidential election of 1800 found Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party garnering the majority of votes in the electoral college; however, Jefferson and fellow party candidate Aaron Burr received an equal number of votes. Due to the tie, the election was decided by the Federalist-dominated House of Representatives.[115] Template:Efn Federalist leader Alexander Hamilton convinced his party that Jefferson would be a lesser political evil than Burr.

On February 17, 1801, after thirty-six ballots, the House elected Jefferson President and Burr Vice President.[116] Jefferson is said to have owed his election victory to the South's inflated number of Electors, which counted slaves under the three-fifths compromise.[117][118] It was also alleged that Jefferson, through Maryland representative, Samuel Smith, secured James Asheton Bayard's tie-breaking electoral vote in exchange for guaranteeing the retention of various Federalist posts in the government.[119] Jefferson disputed the allegation and no documents are conclusive.[120]

Presidency 1801–1809


Portrait of Jefferson by Robert Field (1800)

Jefferson was sworn in by Chief Justice John Marshall at the new Capitol in Washington DC on March 4, 1801. In contrast to his predecessors, Jefferson exhibited a dislike of formal etiquette; he arrived alone on horseback without escort and dressed in plain attire.[121]

He was regarded by his supporters as the 'People's President'. Jefferson's election was well received and the event was marked by celebrations throughout the country. Nevertheless, at the time partisan strife between the Democratic-Republican and Federalist parties had grown to new levels. Some of Jefferson's political opponents referred to him as the "Negro President", with critics like the Mercury and New-England Palladium of Boston stating that he had the gall to celebrate his election as a victory for democracy when he won "the temple of Liberty on the shoulders of slaves."[118]

Upon assumed office he first confronted an $83 million national debt.[122] He began to dismantle Hamilton's Federalist fiscal system. His Secretary of Treasury, Albert Gallatin, claimed that "if this administration shall not reduce taxes, they never will be permanently reduced."[123] The Swiss born Gallatin was Jefferson's most valued administrator and a critic of Alexander Hamilton's fiscal policy.[124] Jefferson's administration began by eliminating the whiskey excise and all other federal internal taxes, claiming that closing "unnecessary offices", as well as cutting "useless establishments and expenses", allowed for the discontinuation of internal taxes.[125][126] The new executive also attempted to disassemble the national bank and its effect of increasing the national debt. Also reduced was much of the Navy, deemed unnecessary during peacetime.[127] Jefferson nominated moderate Republicans including James Madison as Secretary of State, Henry Dearborn Secretary of War, Levi Lincoln Attorney General, and Robert Smith Secretary of Navy.[124] At the conclusion of his two terms, he had reduced the national debt by over $12 million.[128]

In May 1801 the Secretary of War Henry Dearborn announced that the president had appointed Major Jonathan Williams to investigate the establishment of a national school of military education.[129] Following the advice of Washington, Adams, Hamilton and others,[130] Jefferson and the Congress in 1802 authorized the funding and construction of the United States Military Academy at West Point on the Hudson River. On March 16, 1802, he signed the Military Peace Establishment Act, directing that a corps of engineers be established and "constitute a Military Academy." The Act provided well-trained officers for a professional army. The operation of the US Military Academy at West Point formally started on July 4, 1802.

Jefferson pardoned several of those imprisoned under the Alien and Sedition Acts. He repealed the Judiciary Act of 1801, which removed nearly all of Adams' "midnight judges" from office, and led to the Supreme Court's decision in the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison. Another provision was repealed in the Judiciary Act which had required supreme court justices to travel the country extensively to serve as circuit court judges. Jefferson also signed into law a bill that officially segregated the U.S. postal system by not allowing blacks to carry the mail.Template:Why?[131][132]

First Barbary War


Map. Barbary Coast of North Africa 1806.
Barbary Coast of North Africa 1806 - left is Morocco at Gibraltar, center is Tunis, right is Tripoli

The First Barbary War was declared during Jefferson's initial term as president and was the first conducted by the U.S. on foreign soil and seas.[133] American merchant ships had previously been protected from the Barbary pirates by the British navy.[134] For decades later, North African pirates captured American merchant ships, pillaged valuable cargoes and enslaved crew members, followed by ransom demands.[135]

Jefferson had previously recommended naval forces be limited to those required for coastal defense, but the pirate attacks and the systematic kidnapping of American crew members expanded the need. In 1801 the cabinet voted unanimously to send a fleet of three frigates and a schooner to the Mediterranean under the command of Richard Dale, with orders to make a show of force while negotiating for peace if possible; nevertheless, Tripoli declared war upon the United States.[136] The American navy forced Tunis and Algiers into breaking their alliance with Tripoli which ultimately left it disarmed. Jefferson also ordered five separate naval bombardments of Tripoli, which temporarily restored peace in the Mediterranean,[137]

Louisiana Purchase

Template:Main In 1802, Jefferson initiated a negotiation for the purchase of the city of New Orleans and adjacent coastal areas from France. The area under discussion mushroomed, and Napoleon I agreed to sell a territory in excess of a million square miles for $15 million, less $3.75 million in previously settled debts owed to the U.S.. Total inhabitants were 80,000–90,000 including about 40,000 slaves. The purchase was ratified by the Senate by a vote of 24–7.[138] Most thought this was an exceptional opportunity, apart from Constitutional reservations as to the power of the government to acquire land.[139] The new territory proved to be one of the largest fertile tracts of land on the planet, and it marked the end of French imperial ambitions in North America which conflicted with American expansion west.[140]

The Louisiana Purchase was domestically complicated by the pre-existing establishment of French slaveholders there. Faced with the option to confiscate the slaves of French nationals, Jefferson chose to quickly integrate resident settlers politically and legally into U.S. territories, allowing for slavery to continue in the newly acquired territory along with the local adoption of the Code Napoleon. Since the purchase, historians have differed in their assessments regarding constitutional and slavery issues, but Jefferson's acquisition is considered a pivotal contribution toward America's western growth.[141]

Lewis and Clark and other expeditions


Map of Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis & Clark Expedition

Anticipating further westward settlements as a result of the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson arranged for the exploration and mapping of the unchartered territory. It was also important to establish a U.S. claim ahead of competing European interests, and to find the remote Northwest passage.[142] Knowledge of the western continent was limited to what had been learned casually from trappers and traders.[143] Influenced by exploration accounts of Le Page du Pratz in Louisiana (1763) and Captain James Cook in the Pacific (1784),[144] Jefferson and others persuaded Congress in 1804 to fund an expedition to explore and map the newly acquired territory to the Pacific Ocean.[145]

Jefferson appointed Meriwether Lewis and William Clark leaders of the Corps of Discovery, to explore and document scientific and geographic knowledge.[146] Lewis had extensive military woodlands experience and proved an apt student of the sciences of mapping, botany, natural history, mineralogy and navigation.[143] Lewis and Clark recruited a company of 45 men and spent a winter preparing near St. Louis.[147] Setting out in May 1804 and guided by Sacagawea and various Native-American tribes along the way, the expedition traced the Columbia River and reached the Pacific Ocean by November 1805. They returned to St. Louis September 23, 1806, having lost only one man to disease. The expedition obtained a wealth of scientific and geographic knowledge, including knowledge of the many Indian tribes.[148]

In addition to the Corps of Discovery, Jefferson organized three other western expeditions including the William Dunbar and George Hunter expedition on the Ouachita River (1804–1805), the Thomas Freeman and Peter Custis expedition (1806) on the Red River, and the Zebulon Pike expedition (1806–1807) into the Rocky Mountains and the Southwest.[149] All of the excursions sent out under Jefferson's presidency produced valuable information about the American frontier.[149]

Native American and Haitian policies


BEP Engraved portrait of Jefferson

As governor of Virginia during the Revolutionary War, Jefferson had recommended forcibly moving to lands west of the Mississippi River the Cherokee and Shawnee tribes who had allied with the British. But once in the White House, Jefferson wanted to avoid an armed conflict with Native Americans.[150] He told his Secretary of War, General Henry Dearborn, then in charge of Indian affairs: "if we are constrained to lift the hatchet against any tribe, we will never lay it down until that tribe is exterminated, or driven beyond the Mississippi."[151] With the colonial and native civilizations in collision, compounded by British incitement of Indian tribes, Jefferson's administration took quick measures to avert another major conflict.[152]

He made a deal with officials of Georgia: if Georgia would release its legal claims to lands to its west, the U.S. military would help expel the Cherokee people from Georgia. This facilitated his policy of western expansion, to "advance compactly as we multiply".[153] His deal arguably violated an existing treaty between the United States government and the Cherokee Nation, which guaranteed its people the right to their historic lands.[152] Jefferson believed that natives should abandon their own cultures, religions and lifestyles, and assimilate to western European customs and agriculture, which was considered more beneficial.[152][154] He also contended that integration of Native Americans into the European-American economy would make them more dependent on trade, and they would eventually be willing to give up land in exchange for trade goods or debt curtailments.[155] In keeping with his trade and acculturation policy, Jefferson kept Benjamin Hawkins as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southeastern peoples, who became known as the Five Civilized Tribes for their adoption of European-American ways.

Haiti was founded in 1804 as the second republic in the world after its successful slave revolution in the French colony of Saint-Domingue. Jefferson refused to diplomatically recognize Haiti, fearing the success of the "slave republic" would rouse the American South's slaves to rebellion. Jefferson also supported an arms and trade embargo against Haiti.[156] Nevertheless, during the Haitian revolution, when Jefferson wanted to discourage French control in 1802–1803, he allowed arms and contraband goods to reach Saint-Domingue.[157]

Burr–Wilkinson collusions


Picture of Burr-Hamilton duel July 11, 1804, from the painting by J. Mund

Frustrated by Republican Party national dominance, a few New England Federalists in 1804 launched a misguided effort to secede northern states from the Union. Template:Sfn Aaron Burr, Jefferson's Vice President, ran for governor of New York, and showed interest in the movement; however, Burr lost the election and the New England conspiracy ended. Burr ended his political career when he mortally wounded Hamilton in a duel at Weehawken that year.Template:Sfn

During 1805 the Jefferson administration was faced with disputes over the exact boundaries of the Louisiana Territory with Mexico, and the fate of the Floridas, which Spain refused to cede to the United States.[158] Burr in 1806 spread rumors of military adventurism, troop enlistment, increases in arms and ships on the upper Ohio River. Conspiring with Burr in this misinformation was Jefferson appointee Governor James Wilkinson who acted as a spy for Spain.Template:Sfn Template:Sfn Burr's plan included the capture of New Orleans, invading Mexico and uniting the Western part of the United States with the conquered country, by an army led by Wilkinson.[159] Wilkinson inexplicably renounced the plot and reported Burr's treachery to Jefferson from New Orleans. Template:Sfn In November Jefferson issued a proclamation that persons including "citizens of the United States" were conspiring to take over Spanish territory.[160]

Jefferson requested Congressional authority to employ land or naval forces of the U.S. "in cases of insurrection", and in his message to Congress on January 1807, he declared Burr's "guilt is placed beyond question". By late March 1807 Burr was arrested and charged with treason but was acquitted at trial. Wilkinson, who barely escaped indictment, had deleted from court documents evidence of his earlier collaboration with Burr. Template:Sfn Jefferson did not appear in person to answer Chief Justice John Marshall's subpoena to testify, but sent relevant documents instead, setting a precedent for executive privilege. Though Burr's acquittal enraged Jefferson, his career was shattered.[161] Jefferson removed Wilkinson as territorial governor but retained him in the U.S. military. Template:Sfn

Reelection in 1804


1804 Electoral college vote

Jefferson's successful first term occasioned his re-nomination for president by the Republican party and his re-election in 1804 for a second term.[162] George Clinton replaced Burr as his running mate following Burr's killing of Hamilton in their duel of July that year. The Federalist party ran Charles Cotesworth Pinckney of South Carolina, who had been John Adam's vice presidential candidate. The Jefferson-Clinton ticket won overwhelmingly in the electoral college vote, by 162 to 14, promoting their achievement of lower taxes, booming economic prosperity and the Louisiana Purchase.[163]

A split developed in the Republican party, led by fellow Virginian John Randolph of Roanoke in March 1806. Jefferson and Madison had backed resolutions to limit or ban British imports in retaliation for British actions against American shipping. Madison also proposed spending $20 million in roads and canals in infrastructure, leading to the National Road west from Maryland. Randolph felt these measures were akin to Federalist activism, and he formed a congressional caucus of "Quids", calling for purity in republican principles and roundly denouncing both Jefferson and Madison.[164]

Jefferson's popularity further suffered in his second term due to his response to wars in Europe. Positive relations with Great Britain had diminished due partly to the antipathy between Jefferson and the British Ambassador, Anthony Merry. And after Napoleon's decisive victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, Napoleon became more aggressive in his negotiations over trading rights, which American efforts failed to counter. Jefferson then led the enactment of the Embargo Act of 1807, directed at both France and Great Britain. This triggered economic chaos in the US and was strongly criticized at the time, resulting in Jefferson having to abandon the policy a year later.[165]

Following the Revolution the states abolished the international slave trade, but South Carolina reopened it. Jefferson in his annual message of December 1806 denounced the "violations of human rights" attending the international slave trade, calling on the newly elected Congress to criminalize it immediately.[166] In 1807, congress passed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, which Jefferson signed.[167][168] While the act established severe punishment against international slave trade, it did not address the issue domestically.

In the wake of the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson sought to annex Florida from Spain, as brokered by Emperor Napoleon.[169] Congress agreed to the president's request to secretly appropriate purchase money, in the "$2,000,000 Bill".[169] The Congressional funding drew criticism from Randolph who believed the money would wind up in coffers of Napoleon. The bill was signed into law; however, negotiations for the project failed. Jefferson lost clout among fellow Republicans and his use of unofficial Congressional channels was sharply criticized.[169]

Chesapeake–Leopard Affair and Embargo Act

Template:Main The British conducted raids on American shipping and kidnapped seamen in 1806–07; thousands of Americans were thus impressed into their service. In 1806 Jefferson issued a call for a boycott of British goods; on April 18 Congress passed the Non-Importation Acts but they were never enforced. Later that year Jefferson asked James Monroe and William Pinkney to negotiate with Great Britain to end the harassment of American shipping, though Britain showed no signs of improving relations. A treaty was finalized, however it lacked any provisions to end impressment.[170]

The British ship HMS Leopard fired upon the USS Chesapeake off the Virginia coast in June 1807, and Jefferson prepared for war.[171] He issued a proclamation banning armed British ships from U.S. waters. He presumed unilateral authority to call on the states to prepare 100,000 militia and ordered the purchase of arms, ammunition and supplies, saying "The laws of necessity, of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation [than strict observance of written laws]". The USS Revenge, dispatched to demand an explanation from the British government, was also fired upon. Jefferson called for a special session of Congress in October to enact an embargo or in the alternative consider war.[172]

A political cartoon showing merchants dodging the "Ograbme", which is 'Embargo' spelled backwards (1807)

In December news arrived that Napoleon had extended the Berlin Decree, globally banning British imports. In Britain, George III ordered redoubling efforts at impressment, including American sailors. But the war fever of the summer faded–Congress had no appetite to prepare the U.S. for war. Jefferson asked for and received the Embargo Act, the optimal choice for him, as it gained more time for building up defensive works, militias and naval forces. Historian Jon Meecham opined the Embargo Act was a projection of power which surpassed the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Secretary of State James Madison supported the embargo with more vigor than Jefferson, while the Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin opposed, due to its indefinite time frame and the risk it posed to the policy of American neutrality.[173] The U.S. economy suffered and criticism grew, with Jefferson's party losing support, and efforts began to work around the embargo. Instead of retreating, Jefferson sent federal agents to secretly track down smugglers and violators.[174] Three acts were passed in Congress during 1807 and 1808, called the Supplementary, the Additional and the Enforcement acts.[171] Though the government could not prevent American vessels from trading with the European belligerents once they had left American ports, the embargo triggered a devastating decline in exports. Shortly before leaving office in March 1809, Jefferson signed the repeal of the Embargo. In its place the Non-Intercourse Act was passed, but it proved no more effective.[171]

Jefferson believed that the failure of the embargo was due to selfish traders and merchants showing a lack of "republican virtue" by not complying with it.[170] Many historians have considered that Jefferson's embargo was ineffective and harmful to American interests,[175] Others portray it as an innovative non violent measure which aided France in its war with Britain, while preserving American neutrality.[170][176] Jefferson maintained that, had the embargo been widely observed, it would have avoided war in 1812.[177][178]

Judicial and Supreme Court appointments

Template:Main Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

Administration and Cabinet

Sully's portrait of Jefferson at West Point (1821)

Template:Infobox U.S. Cabinet Template:Clear

States admitted to the Union

  • Ohio – March 1, 1803

As president, Jefferson used his influence to bring Ohio into the Union on April 30, 1802, the first state under the Northwest Ordinance. In Congress, Jefferson had authored the Ordinance of 1787 in Congressional committee under the Articles of Confederation. He was therefore instrumental in prohibiting slavery not only to new territories, but in new states beginning with Ohio.[179]

American Philosophical Society

Jefferson was for 35 years a member of the American Philosophical Society, founded in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin, Through the Society he advanced the sciences and Enlightenment ideals, emphasizing that knowledge of science reinforced and extended freedom.[180] He was elected to the Society in January 1780 while Governor of Virginia and the following year was elected a Counsellor. During his long tenure he served on many committees. He became the Society's third President on March 3, 1797, only days after he was elected Vice President under Adams.[181][182] Upon his acceptance Jefferson stated: "I feel no qualification for this distinguished post but a sincere zeal for all the objects of our institution and an ardent desire to see knowledge so disseminated through the mass of mankind that it may at length reach even the extremes of society, beggars and kings."[180] During this time he was compiling data for his Notes on the State of Virginia which he later shared with the Society. He served as the Society's president for the next eighteen years through both terms of his presidency.[181] Along with topics on science and discovery, he often discussed ideas of abolition with dedicated abolitionist Society members including Comte de Volney and Tadeusz Kosciuszko.[183][184] Jefferson also introduced Meriwether Lewis to the Society where various scientists tutored him in preparation for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.[181][185] He offered his letter of resignation on three separate occasions, with the Society refusing each time. The Society finally accepted his resignation at the meeting of January 20, 1815 "with great reluctance". He remained active through correspondence.[186] After Jefferson's death in 1826 the Society draped the chair he had occupied in black for six months.[181] Jefferson was also elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1787.[187] He became an associated member of the Royal Institute of the Netherlands in 1809,[188] and was a member of the American Antiquarian Society.[189][190]

Later years

In the years following Jefferson's political retirement he spent most of his time pursuing educational interests–selling his vast collection of books to the Library of Congress, and founding and building the University of Virginia.[191]

As he settled into private life at Monticello, Jefferson developed a daily routine of rising early, once remarking, "Whether I retire to bed early or late, I rise with the sun." He would spend several hours writing letters, with which he was often deluged. In the midday, he would often inspect the plantation on horseback, visiting the fields and the nailery. In the evenings, his family ate dinner and often recreated in the gardens; late at night, Jefferson would retire to bed with a book. He once wrote, "I never go to bed without an hour, or half hour's previous reading of something moral, whereon to ruminate in the intervals of sleep."[192]

University of Virginia


Winter landscape of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia
The Rotunda, University of Virginia

He wanted to found a new institution of higher learning free of church influences where students could specialize in many new areas not offered at other universities. Jefferson believed educating people was a effective way to establish an stable society and that schools should be paid for by the general public in order to be accessible to students from all social strata.[193]

In 1800, Jefferson wrote a letter to Joseph Priestley about his proposed University.[194] In 1819, the 76-year-old Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. He initiated and organized the legislative campaign for its charter and with the assistance of Edmund Bacon, purchased the location. Jefferson was the principal designer of the buildings. He also planned the University's curriculum and served as the first rector. Upon opening in 1825, it was the first university to offer a full slate of elective courses to its students. With no campus chapel included in the original plans, the university was notable for being centered about a library rather than a church, reinforcing the principle of separation of church and state.

Stylistically, Jefferson was a proponent of the Greek and Roman styles, which he believed to be most representative of American democracy by historical association. Each academic unit was designed with a two-story temple front facing the quadrangle, while the library was modeled on the Roman Pantheon. In his vision, any citizen of the state could attend school with the sole criterion being ability.[195][196]

Jefferson's educational ideas were expressed in the configuration of his campus plan, which he called the "Academical Village". Individual academic units were defined as distinct structures, each housed classrooms, faculty offices, and residences. Gardens and vegetable plots are placed behind and surrounded by serpentine walls, affirming the importance of the agrarian lifestyle.

After Jefferson died in 1826, James Madison replaced him as the University Rector.[197] In a codicil to his last will, Jefferson left most of his library to the University.[198] Until his death, Jefferson invited students and faculty of the college to his home.[199]

Lafayette's visit

Template:Main Jefferson learned in the summer of 1824 that Lafayette had accepted an invitation from President James Monroe to visit the United States. Lafayette arrived at Monticello on November 4 in a carriage provided by Jefferson with a military escort of 120 men. Some 200 friends and neighbors also arrived for the reunion. Jefferson's grandson Randolph was present and witnessed the historic reunion: "As they approached each other, their uncertain gait quickened itself into a shuffling run, and exclaiming, 'Ah Jefferson!' 'Ah Lafayette!', they burst into tears as they fell into each other's arms." Everyone in attendance stood in respectful silence, many of them stifling sobs of their own. Jefferson and Lafayette then retired to the privacy of the house and began reminiscing the many events and encounters they shared years before.[200]

The next morning Jefferson, Lafayette and James Madison rode to the Central Hotel in Charlottesville. After being greeted and honored with speeches they departed the hotel at noon and set out for a tour and banquet at the University of Virginia. In the rotunda of the university with Jefferson seated between Lafayette and Madison they had dinner, with French wine from Monticello. It was the first public function at the University. Jefferson had someone read a speech he had prepared, as his voice was weak. This was Jefferson's last public statement. Lafayette later accepted Jefferson's invitation for honorary membership to the University's Jefferson Literary and Debating Society. After an eleven-day visit Lafayette departed Monticello on November 15.[201][202][203]

Final days

Obelisk at Thomas Jefferson's gravesite
Jefferson's gravesite

Jefferson's health began to deteriorate in July 1825 from a combination of toxemia, uremia, and pneumonia and by June he was confined to bed. He spent most of his waking hours going over his finances and debts. On May 22 he made his last entry in the 'Farm Book', noting the price of lamp oil and the cost of lighting his estate. On June 24 he wrote his last letter, to Roger Weightman of a Washington newspaper, the National Intelligencer,[204] in which he reaffirmed his principles in the Declaration of Independence. On July 3 Jefferson was overcome by fever and declined an invitation to Washington to attend an anniversary celebration of the Declaration.

During the last hours of his life he was accompanied by his grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph and his doctor, Robley Dunglison, and other family members and friends, and was at ease with the immediacy of death. He said to Dunglison, "Well Doctor, you see I am still here yet." To the family's words of hope Jefferson impatiently replied, "Do not imagine for a moment that I feel the smallest solicitude as to the result," at which point he gave directions for his funeral, requesting no sort of celebration. He declared, "I have done for my country, and for all mankind, all that I could do, and I now resign my soul, without fear, to my God, – my daughter to my country."[205] After falling back asleep, Jefferson later woke at eight o'clock that evening with a final inquiry, "Is it the fourth yet?" His doctor replied, "It soon will be."[206] On July 4 at 12:50 p.m., Jefferson died at age 83; it was the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and just a few hours before John Adams.[205][206]

Jefferson's funeral, held July 5 and performed by Reverend Charles Clay, was a simple affair. No invitations were sent, but some friends and visitors came to the ceremony and burial to pay their respects. Jefferson's remains were carried by "servants, family and friends" to the family grave site at Monticello.[207] He wrote his own epitaph, which reads, "HERE WAS BURIED THOMAS JEFFERSON, AUTHOR OF THE DECLARATION OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE, OF THE STATUTE OF VIRGINIA FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, AND FATHER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA."

Though born into a wealthy family, Jefferson died deeply in debt, unable to pass on his estate freely to his heirs.[208] Though he gave instructions for disposal of his assets in his will,[209] his estate, possessions, and slaves were sold at public auctions starting in 1827.[210][211] In 1831 Monticello was sold by Martha Jefferson Randolph and the other heirs.

Historical reputation

Jefferson Memorial, Washington, DC

Jefferson is a historical icon of individual liberty, democracy and republicanism. Some have hailed him as among the most effective architects of the American Revolution, and as a renaissance man who promoted science and scholarship.[212] Abraham Lincoln called Jefferson "the most distinguished politician in our history."[213] Jefferson is widely championed as the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, and for having written more than 18,000 letters of political and philosophical substance during his life.[214]

Historians have also noted the discrepancy between his articulated views of slavery and his slaveholding, a controversial tenure as governor of Virginia, arguable disloyalty under Washington and Adams, his advocacy of nullification and secession, some personal spending excesses and his diminished second term presidency.[215] Some historians have also criticized the harsh treatment of Native Americans during his tenure.[216] Yet others have noted Jefferson was predominantly a kind and generous employer and master, who expressed deep moral convictions against slavery.[217][218] A number maintain that many of the criticisms leveled at Jefferson overlook much and are politically and racially biased.[219]

Political philosophy and views

Template:See also

Jefferson's political ideals were greatly influenced by the writings of John Locke, Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton,[220] whom he considered the three greatest men that ever lived.[221] He was also influenced by the writings of Gibbon, Hume, Robertson, Bolingbroke, Montesquieu and Voltaire.[222] He thought the independent yeoman and agrarian life were ideals of republican virtues. He was distrusting of cities and financiers, favored decentralized government power, and believed that the tyranny that had plagued the common man in Europe was due to corrupt political establishments and monarchies. Having supported efforts to disestablish the Church of England,[223] and having authored the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, he pressed for a wall of separation between church and state.[224] The Republicans under Jefferson were strongly influenced by the 18th-century British Whig Party, who believed in limited government.[225] His Democratic-Republican Party became dominant in early American politics and his views became known as Jeffersonian democracy.[226]

Society and government

According to Jefferson, citizens have "certain inalienable rights" and "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others ..."[227] Jeffersonian government not only prohibited individuals in society from infringing on the liberty of others, but also restrained itself from diminishing individual liberty as a protection against tyranny from the majority.[228] While he believed most people could not escape corrupting dependence, the franchise should be extended only to those who could, including the yeoman farmer. He disliked inter-generational dependence, such as national debt and unalterable governments.[229] He was convinced that individual liberties were the fruit of equality, threatened only by government.[230] Excesses of democracy in his view were caused by institutional corruptions rather than human nature. He remained less suspicious of working democracy than many of his contemporaries.[229]

As president, Jefferson tried to re-create the balance between the state and federal governments as it existed under the Articles of Confederation, seeking to shift the balance of power back to the states. He acted out of his republican theory that liberty could only be retained in small, homogeneous societies. He felt that the Federalist system enacted by Washington and Adams had encouraged corrupting patronage and dependence.[229] Many of Jefferson's contradictions can be understood within this philosophical framework. For example, he opposed women's right to vote or any participation in politics because a government must be controlled by the economically independent. Instead he argued: "our good ladies ... are contented to soothe and calm the minds of their husbands returning ruffled from political debate."[231]


As a proponent of democracy, Jefferson considered it to be the very expression of society as a whole, and called for national self-determination, cultural uniformity and education of all males of the commonwealth.[232] In his view, public education and a free press were essential to a democratic nation: "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free it expects what never was and never will be. ... The people cannot be safe without information. Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe".[233]

After leaving Washington's cabinet as Secretary of State, by October 1795 Jefferson's thoughts turned to the electoral bases of the Republicans and Federalists. The "Republican" classification of the United States for which he advocated included 1) "the entire body of landholders" everywhere, and 2) "the body of laborers" without land.[234] Republicans united behind Jefferson as Vice President, with the election of 1796 expanding democracy nationwide, including local committees and correspondence networks. County committees framed local Republican tickets and spawned partisan Republican newspapers.[235] Privately, Jefferson promoted Republican candidates to run for local state offices.[236] He sought an aristocracy of merit, an example being his vice presidential candidate choice in George Clinton, the child of Irish immigrants.[237]

Beginning with Jefferson's electioneering for the "revolution of 1800", his democratic efforts were based on egalitarian appeals.[238] Jefferson in his later years referred to the 1800 election "as real a revolution in the principles of our government as that of '76 was in its form", one "not effected indeed by the sword ... but by the ... suffrage of the people."[239] Voter participation grew in Jefferson's two terms, increasing to "unimaginable levels" compared to the Federalist Era, with doubled turnouts.[240] John Quincy Adams noted following Jefferson's 1804 election, "The power of the Administration rests upon the support of a much stronger majority of the people throughout the Union than the former Administrations ever possessed."[237]

In retirement, Jefferson gradually became critical of his home state for violating "the principle of equal political rights"–the social right of universal male suffrage.[241] Initially, with the onset of the Revolution, Jefferson had accepted Blackstone's principle that property ownership would lead to the independent will required from voters in a republic, but he sought to further expand suffrage by land distribution to the poor.[242] In the heat of the Revolutionary Era and afterward, with Jefferson's support, several states expanded voter eligibility from landed gentry to include male Euro-American tax-paying citizens, those owning either their own houses or their own tools and paying taxes on them.[243] In response to a pamphlet advocating a Virginia Constitutional Convention, he went further than the radical convention promoters. He sought a "general suffrage" of all taxpayers and militia-men, as well as equal representation by voter population in the state legislature, not skewed to favor slave-holding regions of the state. He also favored a reform of Virginia's county courthouse system, to more nearly resemble that of the more democratic townships of New England.[244]


First Bank of U.S., Philadelphia, 1791–1811

Jefferson distrusted government banks, and opposed public borrowing which he thought created long-term debt, bred monopolies and invited dangerous speculation as opposed to productive labor.[245][246] He argued that each generation should curtail all debt within 19 years, and not impose a long-term debt on subsequent generations.[247]

In 1791, President Washington asked Jefferson, then Secretary of State and Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury, if the Congress had the authority to create a national bank. While Hamilton believed Congress had the authority, Jefferson thought a national bank would ignore the needs of individuals and farmers. He also was convinced it would assume powers not granted to the federal government by the States, and therefore would violate the Tenth Amendment as well as the laws of Mortmain, Alienage, Forfeiture, Distribution, and Monopolies.[248][249][250]

Jefferson used the agrarian resistance to banks and speculators as the first defining principle of an opposition party, recruiting candidates for congress on the issue as early as 1792.[251] In retirement, Jefferson reminded John Taylor in 1816 that they had ever hated the banks which could destroy the state constitutions, already suffering from speculators who "sweep away the fortunes and morals of our citizens". He thought banks were more dangerous than standing armies–"swindling futurity on a large scale".[252][253]

Benefits of rebellion

In a letter to James Madison in 1787, Jefferson wrote, "A little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. ... It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government."[254] Similarly, in a letter to Abigail Adams on February 22, 1787 he wrote, "The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all."[254] Concerning Shays' Rebellion after he had heard of the bloodshed, Jefferson wrote to William S. Smith, John Adams' son-in-law, "What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."[255] In another letter to Smith that year Jefferson wrote: "And what country can preserve its liberties, if the rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms."[254]

As late as 1804 before his second term began, Jefferson even seemed at ease with the prospect of dividing the nation into separate democracies. In view of a prospective republic in the Mississippi River Valley, they would be "as much our children and our descendants" alongside any coastal confederacy remaining. "I feel myself as much identified with that [western] country ... as with this [United States].[256]Template:Efn

He said of the French revolution, "The liberty of the whole world was depending on the issue of the contest".[257] Jefferson once argued that America would become the world's great "empire of liberty"—that is, the model for democracy and republicanism.[258] On departing the presidency in 1809, he described America as, "... trusted with the destinies of this solitary republic of the world, the only monument of human rights, and the sole depository of the sacred fire of freedom and self-government, from hence it is to be lighted up in other regions of the earth, if other regions of the earth shall ever become susceptible of its benign influence."[259]



Jefferson's 1795 Farm book, page 30, lists 163 slaves at Monticello.

Jefferson lived in the Virginia planter economy largely dependent upon slavery. As a wealthy slave owner, he used slave labor to run his household, plantation, tobacco fields and various shops. The first record Jefferson made in regard to slave ownership was in 1774, when he owned 41.[260][261] In his lifetime he owned about 600 slaves, buying and selling them for the management of his affairs, and regularly maintaining about 130 .[262][263] Jefferson purchased slaves on occasion in order to unite their families.[264][265]

He felt slavery was harmful to both slave and master while utilizing many slaves for profit.[266][267] Historians are divided on whether he opposed the institution, largely because he was silent on emancipation during his presidency and only freed a few slaves on his Monticello plantation.[268][269] Some researchers suggest Jefferson's slave ownership contrasted with his philosophy of "all men are created equal".[268] Other historians, however, maintain that the sentiment in this statement is what actually inspired Jefferson to advance legislation to abolish slavery and that he believed slavery was "contrary to the laws of nature" where everyone had a right to personal liberty.[270][271]

In the 1790s, Jefferson opened his own mechanized nailery which enabled mostly younger slaves to make nails. However, while machinery in his shop allowed Jefferson's slaves to work more efficiently, he failed to convince southern farmers that machinery could displace slavery. Instead of eliminating the need for slaves, he realized just how dependent on slave labor the south was.[272] Jefferson wrote in 1816 that "where the disease is most deeply seated, there it will be slowest in eradication. In the Northern States it was merely superficial, and easily corrected. In the Southern States it is incorporated in the whole system."[272]

Jefferson accepted the consensus of his time that Africans were an inferior race. However, a section on slavery was included in his first draft of the Declaration of Independence, where he stated, "[The King] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation hither."[273] This section of the Declaration was omitted because it alarmed southerners, who did not agree with such a bold statement and northerners who feared the disagreement on the matter would endanger a united front against Britain.[273] In his Notes on the State of Virginia (1785), he expressed a "strong suspicion" that the Negro was inferior to whites in both the endowments of body and mind but wasn't sure if it was because they were a "distinct race" or were so because of "time and circumstances".[274]

Historians have generally described Jefferson as a benevolent slaveowner,[275][276][277] though some historians have expressed doubts.[278] Jefferson did not allow his slaves to be overworked and gave them Sundays, Christmas and Easter off.[275][276] According to a former Monticello slave, slaves were seldom punished except for stealing, fighting or other serious offenses, though there were some cases of excessive whippings at the hands of overseers.[271][279] Slaves were provided with log cabins with a fireplace, good clothing and food and were allowed to have their own gardens and raise chickens which, along with eggs and produce, were sold by more than half the adult slaves to the Jefferson household.[280]

As previously noted, President Jefferson called for outlawing the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and he signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves into law.[281] Southern contemporary critics viewed Jefferson as opposed to slavery for his Notes on the State of Virginia, his letter to Benjamin Banneker in 1791, and his reference to St. George Tucker's federal plan to purchase and free slaves.[282]

Abolition and colonization

Although Jefferson owned many slaves during his life, it is widely held that he was opposed to the institution of slavery on moral and practical grounds.[283] He made several attempts to advance legislation to abolish slavery, and later proposed colonization of freed slaves to an independent country of their own in Liberia.[284][285] In 1779 he proposed a plan of gradual voluntary training, sponsorship and resettlement for slave families to the Virginia legislature. Three years hence he helped draft legislation to enable owners to free ("manumit") slaves; owners would only need a written manumission, whereas owners previously had to pay to transport their slave out of state, and the slave could only be freed for doing an act of public service, or with permission from the commonwealth.[273] Jefferson proposed to the Congress legislation in 1784 that would end slavery in the Western Territories in the year 1800; however, this legislation was defeated by one vote. In 1787, Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance, a partial victory for Jefferson that terminated slavery in the North West Territory. Much of Virginia society, as proven by Robert Carter's slave emancipation in 1791, was strongly opposed to freed slaves becoming citizens, while their colonization was viewed as an alternative. Following the Gabriel Prosser rebellion in the summer of 1800, Jefferson again proposed a colonization plan for freed slaves to prevent a race war.[286] Colonization became popular throughout the early 19th Century. While President, he attempted to colonize emancipated Virginia slaves to Sierra Leone off the coast of Africa through British and Portugal companies but these efforts were unsuccessful.[287] The idea of recolonization was met with mixed reactions from proponents and critics among different political and religious groups.[288]

While Jefferson on occasion had expressed reservations about releasing unprepared slaves into freedom, it was something he had sought according to his main overseer of slaves, Edmund Bacon and his slave Joseph Fossett. Jefferson freed five slaves in his will providing a monetary endowment and trade tools to aid in making a living. Jefferson also successfully petitioned the Virginia legislature to allow freed slaves to remain in Virginia. His encumbered debt from an agricultural depression and the mortgaging of his slaves legally prevented him from freeing the remaining slaves who were later auctioned locally by his heirs to pay his creditors and avoid their confiscation.[289][290]

Jefferson–Hemings controversy


The claim that Thomas Jefferson fathered children by his slave, Sally Hemings, has been a matter of debate since 1802. That year journalist James T. Callender, after being denied a position as postmaster by Jefferson, published allegations that Jefferson had taken Hemings as a concubine and had fathered several children with her.[291] John Wayles, her father and slavemaster, was also the father of Jefferson's wife Martha. Hemings was three-quarters white and strikingly similar in looks and voice to Jefferson's late wife.[292]

In 1998, in order to establish the male DNA line, a panel of researchers conducted a Y-DNA study of living descendants of Jefferson's uncle, Field, and of a descendant of Hemings' son, Eston Hemings. The results, published in the journal Nature,[293] showed a Y-DNA match with the male Jefferson line. In 2000, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (TJF) assembled a team of historians whose report concluded that, together with the DNA and historic evidence, there was a high probability that Jefferson was the father of Eston and likely of all Hemings' children. W. M. Wallenborn who worked on the Monticello report disagreed, claiming the committee's report was a "rush to judgement," and that the claims of Jefferson's paternity were unsubstantiated and politically driven.[294]

Since the DNA tests were made public most biographers and historians have concluded that the widower Jefferson had a long-term relationship with Hemings.[295] Other scholars, including a team of professors associated with the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society, maintain that the evidence is insufficient to prove Jefferson's paternity conclusively, and note the possibility that other family members, including his brother Randolph Jefferson and his five sons, who often fraternized with slaves, could have fathered Hemings' children.[296][297]

Hemings' first child was conceived while she and Jefferson were in France during his term as US Ambassador. The claim has been made that since slavery had been abolished in France, Hemings only agreed to come home with Jefferson on condition that their children would be freed at the age of 2, and that Jefferson kept this promise.[273] However, there is no written record or oral history of a claim by Hemings that Jefferson fathered any of her children.[298] Jefferson freed two slaves of the extended Hemings family in the 18th century. He allowed two of her children to leave Monticello without formal manumission when they came of age. Five other slaves, including the two remaining sons of Hemings, were freed by his will upon his death. Although not freed in Jefferson's will, Hemings herself was freed by Jefferson's daughter, Martha Jefferson Randolph, after his death.[273] She then left Monticello with her sons, and they were counted as free whites in the 1830 census.[299]



Jefferson's Bible featuring only the words of Jesus from the evangelists, in parallel Greek, Latin, French and English

Although Jefferson generally referred to himself as a Christian, by 1764 he had withdrawn from an "orthodox" Christian belief after his personal scrutiny of New Testament teachings found intolerable inconsistencies. Jefferson later wrote that he found two strains within the Bible, one that was as "diamonds" of the "purest moral teaching",[300] and another that was as a "dunghill" of "priestcraft and roguery".[301]

In 1777, Jefferson drafted Virginia's An Act of Establishing Religious Freedom. Submitted in 1779, the Act was ratified in 1786 by the Virginia legislature. The Act made it unlawful to compel men to attend or donate money to religious establishments, and declared that men "shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion."[302] Jefferson initially supported restrictions banning clergy from holding public office; however, later in life he changed this view, believing the clergy had the same rights as others to hold public office.[303]

Jefferson praised the morality of Jesus and edited a compilation of his teachings, omitting the miracles and supernatural references of the biblical account, and titling it The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.[304] This book is now known as the Jefferson Bible. He claimed that Christianity possessed, "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man."[305] He was firmly anticlerical, saying that in "every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty ... they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer for their purposes."[306]

Jefferson's personalized Christianity included a strict code of moral conduct and was inspired by classical literature.[307] His belief system retained some Christian principles but rejected many of the orthodox tenets of that time and was critical of the Catholic Church as he had observed it in France. He advanced the idea of Separation of Church and State, that the government should not have an official religion nor should it prohibit any particular religious expression. He initially offered these thoughts in an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptists in Connecticut.[308] In a private letter to Benjamin Rush in 1803 he explained some aspects of his personal belief system regarding Christianity: "To the corruptions of Christianity I am, indeed, opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence ..."[309]

Jefferson noted both benevolence and contradictions in Christian doctrine.[310] In an 1820 letter to his close friend William Short, he stated, "it is not to be understood that I am with him [Jesus] in all his doctrines. I am a Materialist; he takes the side of Spiritualism; he preaches the efficacy of repentance toward forgiveness of sin; I require a counterpoise of good works to redeem it." In 1824, four years later, Jefferson had changed on his view of the "materialism" of Jesus, clarifying then that "... the founder of our religion, was unquestionably a materialist as to man."[311]

As a landowner Jefferson played a role in governing his local Episcopal Church. When he was home he attended the Episcopal church and raised his daughters in that faith.[312][313] Jefferson was influenced by Deism, but was generally reluctant to discuss his personal religious beliefs.[314] Biographer Peterson contends that he was a theist "whose God was the Creator of the universe. Such a God exemplified workmanship and design; all the evidences of nature testified to His perfection; and man could rely on the harmony and beneficence of His work."[315]

Interests and activities

Jefferson was a farmer, with a keen curiosity in new crops, soil conditions, garden designs and scientific agricultural techniques. His main cash crop was tobacco, but its price was usually low and it was rarely profitable. He tried to achieve self-sufficiency with wheat, vegetables, flax, corn, hogs, sheep, poultry and cattle to supply his family, slaves, and employees, but he had cash flow problems and was always in debt. [316][317]

In the field of architecture, Jefferson helped popularize the Neo-Palladian style in the United States through designs for the Virginia State Capitol in addition to the University of Virginia and his own home, among others.[318][319] He was interested in birds and wine, and was a noted gourmet; he was also a prolific writer and linguist, and spoke several languages.[320] As a naturalist, he was compelled to purchase the Natural Bridge.[321]


Jefferson had a lifelong interest in linguistics, could read and write in a number of languages and was fluent in several, including Greek, Italian, French and German. He claimed to have taught himself Spanish in nineteen days, using only a grammar guide and a copy of Don Quixote, though colleagues were skeptical. John Quincy Adams dismissed Jefferson's account as one of the exaggerative "large stories" he was inclined to tell.[322] He also collected and understood a number of American Indian vocabularies and instructed Lewis and Clark to record and collect various Indian dialects during their Expedition.[323] He studied the ancient Anglo-Saxon language in a linguistic and philosophical capacity. In his early years he excelled in classical language while at boarding school[324] where he received a classical education in Greek and Latin[325] and was known to keep his Greek grammar book with him everywhere he went. He later came to regard the Greek language as the "perfect language" as expressed in its laws[326] consequently becoming keenly interested in linguistics and political philosophy altogether. While attending the College of William & Mary he taught himself Italian.[327] Here Jefferson first became familiar with the Anglo-Saxon language, especially as it was associated with English Common law and system of government. He was so interested in the subject that, while pursuing law, he set aside time to devote to its study, as the college offered no such curriculum.

Linguistics played a significant role in how Jefferson modeled and expressed political and philosophical ideas. He believed that the progression of language provided a good model for the advancement of political thought, that change in language was the result of common sense, natural law and consequently public acceptance and usage.[328] He understood the study of ancient languages was essential in understanding the roots of modern language. While criticizing the British for not recognizing various colonial dialects, Jefferson wanted the English language largely left intact, and taught that way to American school children.[328] He owned a wide variety of multiple language dictionaries, including Webster's A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, 1806.[329] Much of Jefferson's correspondence is earmarked with Greek and Latin quotations and other references to language.[326][330] Jefferson later included Italian and Anglo-Saxon among the languages taught at the University of Virginia.[327][331]

Although his political career and private activities required him to speak in public and his writing on a wide range of topics was regarded as brilliant, Jefferson was not known as a good orator and preferred to remain silent if possible. Instead of delivering his State of the Union addresses himself, Jefferson wrote the annual messages and sent a representative to read them aloud in Congress. This started a tradition which continued until 1913, when Woodrow Wilson chose to deliver his own State of the Union address.[332]


Portable writing desk invented and used by Jefferson in writing the Declaration

Jefferson invented many small practical devices and improved contemporary inventions. These include the design for a revolving book-stand to hold five volumes at once to be viewed by the reader. Another was the "Great Clock", powered by the Earth's gravitational pull on Revolutionary War cannonballs. Louis Leschot, a machinist, aided Jefferson with the clock. Jefferson invented a Template:Convert long coded wooden cipher wheel mounted on a metal spindle, to keep State Department messages secure, while he was Secretary of State. The messages were scrambled and unscrambled by 26 alphabet letters on each circular segment of the wheel. He improved the moldboard plow, an idea he never patented and gave to posterity,[333] and the polygraph, in collaboration with Charles Willson Peale.[334] As Minister to France, Jefferson was impressed by France's military standardization program known as the Système Gribeauval. As president, he initiated a program at the Federal Armories to develop interchangeable parts for firearms. He made improvements and introduced innovations on an English printing press he had brought back with him. He also improved the pedometer, a device for counting the number of steps taken while walking, and gave one to James Madison. For Jefferson's inventiveness and ingenuity he received several Honorary Doctor of Law degrees.[335] Jefferson can also be accredited as the creator of the swivel chair, the first of which he created and used to write much of the Declaration of Independence.[336]

Memorials and honors


Rudulph Evans' statue of Jefferson with excerpts from the Declaration of Independence to the right
Jefferson Memorial statue by Rudulph Evans, the preamble of the Declaration of Independence at right

Jefferson has been memorialized with buildings, sculptures, postage and currency. The Jefferson Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. in 1943, on the 200th anniversary of Jefferson's birth. The interior of the memorial includes a Template:Convert statue of Jefferson and engravings of passages from his writings. Most prominent are the words inscribed around the monument near the roof: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."[337] During the New Deal era of the 1930s, Democrats honored Jefferson and Andrew Jackson as their party's founding fathers and continued inspiration. He was portrayed by them as the spokesman for democracy and the common man. President Franklin D. Roosevelt led the effort to gain approvals for his monument in Washington.[338]

Jefferson has been honored on U.S. postage since the first Jefferson postage stamp was released in 1856. Jefferson was the second president to be featured on U.S. Postage.[339] His portrait appears on the U.S. $2 bill, nickel, and the $100 Series EE Savings Bond, and a Presidential Dollar which released into circulation on August 16, 2007.[340]

His original tombstone, now a cenotaph, is located on the campus in the University of Missouri's Quadrangle. A life mask of Jefferson was created by John Henri Isaac Browere in the 1820s.[341]

Jefferson, together with George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, was chosen by sculptor Gutzon Borglum and approved by President Calvin Coolidge to be depicted in stone at the Mount Rushmore Memorial.[342]

Other memorials to Jefferson include the commissioning of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ship Thomas Jefferson in Norfolk, Virginia on July 8, 2003, in commemoration of his establishment of a Survey of the Coast, the predecessor to NOAA's National Ocean Service. A bronze monument to Jefferson was erected in Jefferson Park, Chicago along Milwaukee Avenue in 2005. In honor of Jefferson's support, the Library of Congress' website for legislative information is named THOMAS.[343]


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See also

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Scholarly studies


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  • Cogliano, Francis D. ed. A Companion to Thomas Jefferson (2012), 648 pp; 34 essays by scholars focusing on how historians have handled Jefferson. online

Web site sources

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Primary sources



External links

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