Questioning Where Thomas Jefferson’s Immortality Lies

History Writing Assignment

John F. Kennedy once described a White House reception for Nobel laureates as "the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." Thomas Jefferson was a man noted not only for his great intelligence, but also as a man who believed in the rights of the people to govern themselves. As one of the nation\'s Founding Fathers, and as its third president, Jefferson regularly displayed both qualities. During the first five decades of this nation\'s history, Jefferson was pre-eminent among his peers as an advocate of the rights of man. The inspiring appeal of his philosophy and the eloquent force of his expression have made him a powerful symbol of freedom throughout the Western world, and his influence has been even greater in death than in life. Even in today’s society, he is still known throughout the world – he is immortal. Some dwell on Thomas Jefferson’s character and portray him as scoundrel and focus on his immorality, while others prefer to explore Jefferson’s system of ideas on government, economics, and slavery. However, people should focus on what makes Thomas Jefferson, the paragon of reason, one of the most talked about man. During his public address, Woodrow Wilson said “The immortality of Jefferson does not lie in any one of his achievements, but in his attitude toward mankind”. However, I believe that Thomas Jefferson’s immortality lies in his work that reflects his attitude toward mankind. The Declaration of Independence, founding the America’s public education system, Louisiana Purchase are some of works Thomas Jefferson’s works that show his moral character.

The Declaration of Independence is one of the greatest American poems. His document shows not only his strongly held belief in that people were created equal, but his acceptance of belief. Everybody subscribes to it in a way. Jefferson states that “all men are equal” and argues that every man has the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. Thomas Jefferson intended it to be a very emotional argument in a great poem in which he itemizes all those things against the king. It turned out to be a very powerful document.

Few people realize that Thomas Jefferson was the founder of America’s public education system. This is another example of his work that reflects his moral attitude towards mankind. During the last years of his life, he was “entirely absorbed in endeavors to effect the establishment of a general system of education” (T. Jefferson). Thomas Jefferson believed that the most important bill in the whole code is the diffusion of knowledge among the people. He believed that no other sure foundation can be devised for the preservation of freedom, and happiness. To achieve this goal, Jefferson made sure that the students studying under his system left school with a clear understanding of the “laws of Nature and Nature’s God; the US Constitution, which embodies these laws; and American history, which celebrates the founding of a nation based on the self evident truth that all men are equal”.

Unlike the first two examples, the Louisiana Purchase reflects Thomas Jefferson’s moral character in a different way. It shows that he made decisions based on the people’s best interest. The Louisiana Territory was bought from France for $15 million. The area totaled about 830,000 square miles and just about doubled the size of our nation. The boundaries were indefinite. The Mississippi River was the eastern border. On the south the territory extended to the Gulf of Mexico, on the west to the Rocky Mountains, and on the north to Canada. This land deal was arguably the greatest achievement of Thomas Jefferson\'s presidency but also posed a major philosophical problem for Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson was strongly anti-federalist. While he might have written the Declaration of Independence, he definitely did not author the Constitution. Instead, that document was mainly written by James Madison. Jefferson spoke against a strong federal government and instead advocated states\' rights. He feared tyranny of any kind and only recognized the need for a strong, central government in terms of foreign affairs. Jefferson changed his attitude toward England and France, as soon as