Thomas Jefferson is one of the most important figures in American History. He is the author of The Declaration of Independence, an ambassador to France during a very critical time in US foreign relations, a social reformer and a member of the 2nd Continental Congress as well as our 3rd president. He was the country’s first Secretary of State as well as an inventor and a true student of The Enlightenment. His words and writings have been used on both sides of the arguments on such topics as Federal vs. states’ rights, equality for women and African-Americans, revolution vs. civility, fiscal responsibility vs. increased spending to list a few.
Thomas Jefferson gave religious liberties to the citizens of America and helped to ensure that the government did not have control over the souls of men by forcing them to attend church services or to submit to an involuntary tithe of the state supported church as was the practice before The American Revolution. He is one of the most fascinating figures in American History because of what he accomplished as well as what he did not do: free his slaves while at the same time introducing legislation twelve times while a member of the Virginia Assembly to either stop the spread of slavery or to abolish it completely.
So in that respect, is he a product of his generation as many of us are and such an offense can be overlooked, or are we entitled to expect more from one of our founding fathers? Thomas Jefferson is an important figure in American History because he was present at this country’s most important time. With over two hundred years separating The American Revolution from contemporary society, it is taken for granted that the result of the war was a foregone conclusion. But that was not the case. Support for the war on the home front was never as strong as it was in some of America’s others wars.
The signers of the Declaration of Independence would have been hung by the British as well as all other leaders if the colonists had lost the war if this experiment had not been successful. But it was Thomas Jefferson who helped lead the fight and was one of the important figures that called for this struggle to begin while our forefathers debated the issue at the 2nd Continental Congress in Philadelphia in July of 1776. Liberty had been his passion for his entire life. And this idea of freedom is seen throughout his life and in his presidency as well. Thomas Jefferson was also the third President of the United States.
(1801-1809). During this very important time in American History, Thomas Jefferson was instrumental in forming the Corp of Discovery: the expedition of Lewis & Clark to survey the land from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. Jefferson believed that the freedoms that this country would give to its citizens should stretch from ocean to ocean thirty years before the phrase “Manifest Destiny” was made popular. But it was his pardoning of all citizens that had been jailed during the Adams administration for criticizing the government in the now infamous Alien and Sedition Act (1798).
Under this law, citizens could be fined or jailed for criticizing the government and about fifty people were jailed during this time. Such a law was seen as appalling by Jefferson and was a source of contention between Jefferson and his predecessor and one time best friend John Adams. Of all the important accomplishments, Jefferson had two that stood out in his mind above all others. This is known because these were two of the only three accomplishments that Jefferson instructed to be listed on his tombstone: founding father to The University of Virginia and presenting The Statue of Virginia for religious freedom.
Both spoke to his quest an expansion of freedom for the citizens of America. The forming of The University of Virginia was described by Jefferson as “the last remaining passion in my life. ” The starting of any university as prominent as the University of Virginia is important but The University of Virginia was different in the fact that it was started without any religious affiliation at all which was the first of its kind in America. The idea of a public school and a public education which is taken for granted, saw its American roots in Virginia and in the mind of Thomas Jefferson.
The second: the Statue of Virginia for Religious freedom was very dear to the mind and heart of Jefferson. The Church of England was the official church of Virginia and for a time, residents were compelled by the law, to pay a tithe to the state church. In New York during the Dutch settlement, people were fined for missing church. Jefferson said that the government should not have power over a man’s soul and thought that was a matter simply between a man and his God. Everyone who sings Faith of our Fathers on Sundays, recites mass, or who doesn’t go to church at all, can thank Thomas Jefferson and others for that very precious freedom.