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Thomas Jefferson Good or Bad

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    Thomas Jefferson is considered one of the most brilliant men ever to serve as president. Jefferson accomplished many things that contributed to his legacy. He was a founding father of the United States, and he was the main author of the Declaration of Independence. If it were not for Jefferson our Declaration would not be the basis for many countries around the world. He wrote something that all Americans can be proud of. Thomas Jefferson’s interest in geography and nature helped him see the true opportunity of the Louisiana Territory.

    When Napoleon made his offer, Jefferson acted swiftly and decisively. His quick thinking doubled the land area of the U. S. In 1804 he assigned Meriwether Lewis, and William Clark, to an expedition to explore the new territory. That was beneficial to me seeing as though Missouri was part of the Louisiana purchase and that is my home state. Jefferson’s leadership helped avoid American involvement in the wars in Europe. At his discretion, an embargo was placed on all American foreign trade.

    Jefferson was hoping to force the European powers into respecting American maritime rights. This policy created considerable economic hardship. However, it avoided a war that America was unprepared for. This was an excellent move on his part seeing as though the U. S. could not handle another war we were not prepared for. Historians have praised Jefferson for showing flexibility in his principles of strict construction of the Constitution and limiting presidential authority. Taking this into consideration, what do his actions on Louisiana really demonstrate?

    Perhaps a matter of convenience. His often-enunciated principles were only a matter of convenience, used to justify certain ends but then abandoned when they stood in his way. The declarations of Jefferson, like those of any other politician, must be taken with a grain of salt. An example of Jeffersonian hypocrisy is that he took a civil libertarian position only when it was convenient for him. His intrusion in the Aaron Burr treason trial makes even Richard Nixon’s meddling in the Ellsberg case seem innocent.

    Jefferson was determined to see his former rival severely prosecuted and would do anything to see that it happened. He not only announced his opinion that Burr was guilty before the jury could consider the case, but he tried to bribe witnesses to get them to testify against Burr. This would be a shameful act punishable by impeachment if it were done by a president in this time. The principles of Jeffersonian Democracy helped shape America into what it is today.

    The principles include: belief in the common man, faith in republic, protection of civil/political liberty, equal protection, public education, states’ rights, and Laissez Faire. Jefferson’s beliefs in the common man, as well as equal protection and public education have helped Americans for centuries to reach their full potential by guaranteeing them certain rights. If it were not for the rights, I may not have the free public education I am guaranteed to today. By protecting the states’ rights and political liberty, Jefferson helped give America the opportunity to blossom.

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