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Does Thomas Jefferson Deserve to Be Honored in American History - Term Paper Example

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Does Thomas Jefferson deserve to be honored in American history? Thomas Jefferson is perhaps best known as the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and one of the most controversial presidents of the United States. Jefferson has a number of accomplishments to his claim along with a number of actions that have given him a bed reputation over time…
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Does Thomas Jefferson Deserve to Be Honored in American History
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Download file to see previous pages Jefferson was an influential member of the Continental Congress and was an important founding father. When the American Revolution began Jefferson was already part of the Continental Congress being the representative of Virginia. During the revolution Jefferson assumed the position of wartime Governor of Virginia (1779 to 1781) and was barely able to escape capture at the hands of British troops in 1781. He became the third president of the United States of America in 1801 and continued to 1809 amongst a series of bitter sweet political and military decisions that have received appreciation and criticism alike (Ellis). Jefferson has often been accused of copying other people’s ideas (such as those of Locke) when drafting the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It must be borne in mind that Jefferson himself stated that the document was “meant as a statement of the prevailing sentiments” amongst Americans at that point in time. To expect Jefferson to monopolize the contents of such an important and integral historical document would be a far greater sin than his admission that the ideas carried in the document were borrowed. In drafting the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was merely trying to reflect on the state of current polity on the American continent and not trying to be a “creative director” of the American Revolution (Malone). Another of Jefferson’s more important actions was his drafting of the Virginia Statutes for Religious Freedom in 1777 which can be seen as the founding document for the cherished American ideals of liberation and freedom. As a result of this document the Church was separated from the State and it served as a precedent for others to follow. Religious liberation at such an early stage in the nascent American nation’s history helped America to avoid the costly and meaningless religious wars that were still being fought on the European continent. Jefferson was denounced as a “godless heathen” by a number of his contemporaries because of this document and its implications but he waded through this mess in order to offer the nation religious liberation. Such actions on the part of Jefferson cannot be downplayed as they represented a large initiative for a society that derived its roots from some nuances of religion. Moreover Jefferson was instrumental in setting up the University of Virginia in 1819 which was aimed at upgrading the existing levels of higher education in the United States. Similarly Jefferson’s purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France near doubled the size of the United States although the entire transaction is mired in controversy (Wilentz). Jefferson was not open to the idea of such a large purchase for largely political reasons but he nonetheless went ahead with the purchase at the insistence of his advisors and his representatives for the negotiation. Preceding Jefferson’s regime the American shipping industry had to pay large endowments to the Barbary pirates in order to guarantee safe passage in the Mediterranean. However during Jefferson’s regime the demands of the Barbary States assumed ludicrous proportions so Jefferson decided to pursue hard military action against the pirates in order to quell the problem. Jefferson’s decision to pursue military action set the tone for future American engagement in global ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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