Expansive Thomas Jefferson Statue

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Thomas Jefferson Statue

posted by Wayne Hsieh alias www78 on Monday 6th of November 2017 07:05:50 PM

Writer of the US Declaration of Independence, 3rd President of the United States, a leading proponent of republicanism and an agrarian state, Thomas Jefferson is one of the greatest presidents in US history. Born to landed gentry in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson became an empiricist while at the College of William and Mary. He highly valued education and scientific thought, accumulating 6500 books by 1814. After the British burned the Library of Congress in 1814, he sold the bulk of it to the US government for cheap. He built his dream home of Monticello in 1768, which he personally designed and married Martha Skelton. Jefferson became a lawyer and joined the House of Burgesses in 1769, just as the American Colonies were becoming chaotic over the issues of taxation and representation. In 1775, at age 33, he joined the Second Continental Congress, which was discussing independence from Great Britain. Eventually, it was decided that the 13 colonies should declare Independence. John Adams was chosen as the writer, but Adams persuaded the committee to choose Jefferson, whom he had newly befriended instead. Thomas Jefferson spent 17 days writing the document, drawing on Enlightenment ideals of John Locke and Montesquieu to declare that King George III of Great Britain was illegitimate over various crimes committed against the colonists. It included the words, "all men are created equal", one of the most fundamental statements on liberalism, human rights and secular humanism ever created. While there were minor changes (notably an elimination referencing the slave trade), the Continental Congress passed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Returning to Virginia, Jefferson worked on a Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom (which failed), judicial reform and general education. He briefly became governor of Virginia twice, and was nearly captured by British forces twice during the American Revolution. In response to inquiries from French diplomat François Barbé-Marbois, Jefferson wrote the Notes on the State of Virginia, one of the earliest and most important books written in early American history, describing an Enlightenment-influenced mix of geography, science, anthropology, racial relations, and Jefferson's own beliefs on the separation of church and state, constitutional government, checks and balances, and individual liberty. As a member of the Congress of the Confederation, Jefferson ceded Virginia's claims on the Ohio Territory, and facilitated the Northwest Ordinance that established the precedence of creating new states from newly expanded territories of the United States. He was Minister to France during the French Revolution, helping his old friend Marquis de Lafayette write the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. He also established his own cipher. Martha Skelton died in 1782 from complications of childbirth. Jefferson was devastated and agreed to her dying wish never to remarry. Returning to the United States, Jefferson agreed to be appointed Sec of State by Pres George Washington. He soon found himself opposing Sec of Treasury Alexander Hamilton over national debt, a national bank, a capital in New England, and support for Great Britain, all which Jefferson vigorously opposed. This led to a falling out between Washington and Jefferson, and would soon lead to the establishment of the first two political parties, the centralized government, pro-banking New England based Federalists, and the agrarian (slave owning), expansive, decentralized, Southern-based Democrat-Republicans. In the first partisan election in United States history, Jefferson ran and lost to John Adams running as a Federalist, 71-68. Due to a mistake in the voting process, he ended up as Adam's Vice President. When Adams increased the military, levied new taxes, and enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts, Jefferson and his protege James Madison wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, advocating "nullification" allowing states to invalidate federal laws altogether. Some have suggested that the roots of the American Civil War would come from this. Thomas Jefferson won the 1800 Election against Pres John Adams, 73-65 after a highly partisan election. However while the Democrat-Republicans won the electoral vote, Jefferson won the same number of votes as his Vice Presidential candidate, Aaron Burr, and the election was decided in the House, dominated by Federalists. Though Hamilton strongly opposed Jefferson, he thought that Jefferson was at least a man of virtue and detested Burr, persuading the House to deliver the victory to Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson appointed Albert Gallatin Sec of Treasury, who began dismantling Hamilton's tax policy and reducing Federal debt. Jefferson shrunk the US Navy, and established the US Military Academy. Jefferson called for and received the first US declaration of war against Tripoli, leading to the indecisive 1801 Barbary War. Probably most importantly however Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from France, nearly doubling the size of the United States. Several expeditions, most notably the Lewis and Clark Expedition, were sent to explore the new American territories and attempt to find a route to the Pacific. Jefferson was reelected in an electoral landslide, 162 to 14 on the strength of his accomplishments. Jefferson's second term however was far less successful. While he signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, his second term was tied up in the controversy over Aaron Burr's Conspiracy and the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. As part of the British policy of impressing American sailors, the HMS Leopard attacked the USS Chesapeake, boarding the vessel to seize American sailors. With four dead from the Chesapeake–Leopard affair, the American public was infuriated, leading to calls for war. Jefferson refused, instead embarking on the 1807 Embargo Act, banning trade with Britain and France while the United States built up its forces. In reality however the act backfired, seriously harming the American economy while Europe (and American traders) largely ignored the act. Analysts then and now have wondered at Jefferson expanding and applying centralized power to enforce a powerful law. Agreed as the least successful of Jefferson's policies, he let the bill expire before leaving office. Retiring to Monticello, Jefferson established the University of Virginia in 1819, wrote his autobiography, and corresponded with John Adams, the two having patched up their differences. Both Jefferson and Adams would die on July 4, 1824. He is buried under his self-written epitaph: "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" One of the most important US Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson is perhaps the greatest source of America's ideals. And perhaps also reflecting the duality of the United States, Jefferson himself had issues matching those ideals, especially over slavery, which for him involved fathering several children was his slave Sally Hemmings, and his half-hearted attempts at ending slavery and freeing his own slaves. Still while this diminishes his greatness, it also shows that the Founding Fathers were human, and struggled to create the best of Worlds despite their own failings. Known as the “City of Presidents”, because of nearby Mount Rushmore, Rapid City has erected statues to every American president along its street corners. Downtown, Rapid City, South Dakota


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