The third president of the United States was Thomas Jefferson. He had been the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. In an age of great men Jefferson was remarkable for his wide-ranging curiosity on many subjects. He helped the United States get started, and his plans for the future helped it grow. Many of the good things Americans enjoy today have come from Jefferson's devotion to human rights.
Jefferson is often called the founder of the Democratic Party. Other groups also claim to follow his principles. He developed the theory of states' rights, which was against giving much authority to the federal government.
Jefferson proposed many bills that struck at the old nobility of wealth and family in favor of government by what he would later call an aristocracy of talent and virtue. They included: The statute for religious freedom, separating church and state and removing the private right of religious belief from control by public law. This statute has come down to present generations as one of the timeless declarations of intellectual freedom.
“That government is best which governs least, because its people discipline themselves. If we are directed from Washington (heads of an organization) when to sow and when to reap, we will soon want for bread.” Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson believed that the Federalists he defeated represented not just a different political vision, but a dangerously wrong political vision—one that threatened to restore the antidemocratic principles and institutions of the British government Americans had rejected in 1776.
American self-government never quite reached the vision that Jefferson had for it. But even in its partial achievement, it had, and continues to have, much of the spirit and characteristics that he inspired. Jefferson wanted to push participation to the ultimate. He wanted to divide the counties of each state into wards, and to have popular...