Thomas Jefferson: The Multifaceted Man
Thomas Jefferson was an impactful character during the eighteenth century. Not only was he influential and powerful man during his prime years, but to this day, his legacy and his work lives on stronger than ever. His positions in the American government range from a wide variety. From being a member of Virginia House of Burgesses and the Continental Congress, governor of Virginia, minister to France, Vice President of the United States, and most importantly, the third President of the United States. Thomas Jefferson was one of the Founding Fathers of America and his contribution to the success of the United States. He was born in Virginia on April 13, 1743 and lived to be 83 years old and throughout his lifetime Jefferson has made a life-lasting impression on the American people of his time and even today. Historians like Francis D. Cogliano and Merrill D. Peterson, emphasize the monumental and essential achievements that Jefferson was able to create in his lifetime. Historian Peterson called his character somewhat labyrinthian due to the fact that Jefferson’s thought process and mindset was beyond reach for Americans. Jefferson was a man of many strong suits and passions: philosopher, politician, aristocrat, and democrat. The fact that he was such a multifaceted man added to the difficulty many faced when trying to decipher the mind of Jefferson. Peterson includes a quote in his book, “to be at once more loved and praised by his friends, and more hated and reviled by his adversaries, than any of his compatriots.” 1 The contrast between his many qualities may cause some confusion but at the end of it all, Jefferson wrote his way to gaining our country’s independence. Jefferson was also a man of the future. In Francis D. Cogliano’s book, Thomas Jefferson: Reputation and Legacy, he wrote, “Jefferson recognized that the job would not be completed during his lifetime, and so he bequeathed to posterity his version of the republic’s early history so that we, his successors, would be guided to a bright republican future, a future of peace, harmony and liberty.”2 This demonstrates how his beliefs were translated into reality many, many years after he made his wishes for the future of America public even if he was long gone when his dreams came true. James Parton, our first professional biographer, wrote a book entitled Life of Thomas Jefferson: Third President of the United States. In it, he including the words, “If Jefferson was wrong, America is wrong. If America is right, Jefferson was right.”3 Parton believed Jefferson to be the embodiment of a Republican America and if we were to be republican, all we had to do was look to Thomas Jefferson and his ideals and what he stood for as an example. Parton mentions the principles which Jefferson restored which included a government that shall protect all rights, including those inferior to the majority, and assuming no other task except those that the Constitution of America assigns. Not only is Thomas Jefferson respected and idolized today, but even his colleagues had much reverence for him as a person of the nation and as a diligent fighter for independence and liberty. When John Adams was inquired as to why he elected such a young man to be the writer of the Declaration of Independence, he answered that Jefferson brought a reputation of literature, science, and a remarkable talent of composition. Adams also admitted that he was prompt, frank, explicit, and decisive upon communications.4 These are the primary factors that enticed his peers to nominate him for such an important task. His power in his words and dedication to do the right things was his upper hand in making a change in the world. Professor and biographer, Joseph J. Ellis commented in his book, American Sphinx, the fact that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had a fifty-year relationship; however Adams disagreed with Jefferson’s republican views...
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