Thomas Jefferson life and biography

Thomas Jefferson picture, image, poster

Thomas Jefferson biography

Date of birth : 1743-04-13
Date of death : 1826-07-04
Birthplace : Shadwell, Virginia
Nationality : American
Category : Historian personalities
Last modified : 2010-04-13
Credited as : President of the United States, American founder of the University of Virginia, Historian/political leader/achitect/inventor

6 votes so far

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and—for his promotion of the ideals of republicanism in the United States—one of the most influential Founding Fathers. Jefferson envisioned America as the force behind a great "Empire of Liberty" that would promote republicanism and counter the imperialism of the British Empire.

Major events during his presidency include the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806), as well as escalating tensions with both Britain and France that led to war with Britain in 1812, after he left office.

As a political philosopher, Jefferson was a man of the Enlightenment and knew many intellectual leaders in Britain and France. He idealized the independent yeoman farmer as exemplar of republican virtues, distrusted cities and financiers, and favored states' rights and a strictly limited federal government. Jefferson supported the separation of church and state and was the author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779, 1786). He was the eponym of Jeffersonian democracy and the cofounder and leader of the Democratic-Republican Party, which dominated American politics for 25 years. Jefferson served as the wartime Governor of Virginia (1779–1781), first United States Secretary of State (1789–1793), and second Vice President (1797–1801).

Presidency of Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson repealed many federal taxes, and sought to rely mainly on customs revenue. He pardoned people who had been imprisoned under the Alien and Sedition Acts, passed in John Adams' term, which Jefferson believed to be unconstitutional. He repealed the Judiciary Act of 1801 and removed many of Adams' "midnight judges" from office, which led to the Supreme Court deciding the important case of Marbury v. Madison. He began and won the First Barbary War (1801–1805), America's first significant overseas war, and established the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1802.

In 1803, despite his misgivings about the constitutionality of Congress's power to buy land, Jefferson bought Louisiana from France, doubling the size of the United States. The land thus acquired amounts to 23 percent of the United States today.

In 1807 his former vice president, Aaron Burr, was tried for treason on Jefferson's order, but was acquitted. During the trial Chief Justice John Marshall subpoenaed Jefferson, who invoked executive privilege and claimed that as president he did not need to comply. When Marshall held that the Constitution did not provide the president with any exception to the duty to obey a court order, Jefferson backed down.

Jefferson's reputation was damaged by the Embargo Act of 1807, which was ineffective and was repealed at the end of his second term.

In 1803, President Jefferson signed into law a bill that excluded blacks from carrying the U.S. mail. Historian John Hope Franklin called the signing "a gratuitous expression of distrust of free Negroes who had done nothing to merit it."

On March 3, 1807, Jefferson signed a bill making slave importation illegal in the United States.

A polymath, Jefferson achieved distinction as, among other things, a horticulturist, political leader, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, inventor, and founder of the University of Virginia. When President John F. Kennedy welcomed 49 Nobel Prize winners to the White House in 1962 he said, "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." To date, Jefferson is the only president to serve two full terms in office without vetoing a single bill of Congress. Jefferson has been consistently ranked by scholars as one of the greatest of U.S. presidents.

After leaving the Presidency, Jefferson continued to be active in public affairs. He also became increasingly concerned with founding a new institution of higher learning, specifically one free of church influences where students could specialize in many new areas not offered at other universities. Jefferson believed educating people was a good way to establish an organized society, and felt schools should be paid for by the general public, so less wealthy people could obtain student membership as well. A letter to Joseph Priestley, in January 1800, indicated that he had been planning the University for decades before its establishment.

His dream was realized in 1819 with the founding of the University of Virginia. Upon its opening in 1825, it was then the first university to offer a full slate of elective courses to its students. One of the largest construction projects to that time in North America, it was notable for being centered about a library rather than a church. No campus chapel was included in his original plans. Until his death, Jefferson invited students and faculty of the school to his home.

Jefferson is widely recognized for his architectural planning of the University of Virginia grounds, an innovative design that is a powerful representation of his aspirations for both state sponsored education and an agrarian democracy in the new Republic. His educational idea of creating specialized units of learning is physically expressed in the configuration of his campus plan, which he called the "Academical Village." Individual academic units are expressed visually as distinct structures, represented by Pavilions, facing a grassy quadrangle, with each Pavilion housing classroom, faculty office, and homes. Though unique, each is visually equal in importance, and they are linked with a series of open air arcades that are the front facades of student accommodations. Gardens and vegetable plots are placed behind and surrounded by serpentine walls, affirming the importance of the agrarian lifestyle.

His highly ordered site plan establishes an ensemble of buildings surrounding a central rectangular quadrangle, named The Lawn, which is lined on either side with the academic teaching units and their linking arcades. The quad is enclosed at one end with the library, the repository of knowledge, at the head of the table. The remaining side opposite the library remained open-ended for future growth. The lawn rises gradually as a series of stepped terraces, each a few feet higher than the last, rising up to the library set in the most prominent position at the top, while also suggesting that the Academical Village facilitates easier movement to the future.

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 is designed with a two story temple front facing the quadrangle, while the library is modeled on the Roman Pantheon. The ensemble of buildings surrounding the quad is an unmistakable architectural statement of the importance of secular public education, while the exclusion of religious structures reinforces the principle of separation of church and state. The campus planning and architectural treatment remains today as a paradigm of building of structures to express intellectual ideas and aspirations. A survey of members of the American Institute of Architects identified Jefferson's campus as the most significant work of architecture in America.

The University was designed as the capstone of the educational system of Virginia. In his vision, any citizen of the state could attend school with the sole criterion being ability.

Death

Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. He died a few hours before John Adams, his compatriot in their quest for independence, then great political rival, and later friend and correspondent. Adams is often rumored to have referenced Jefferson in his last words, unaware of his passing.

Although he was born into one of the wealthiest families in North America, Thomas Jefferson was deeply in debt when he died

Read more


 
Please read our privacy policy. Page generated in 0.109s