Thomas Jefferson as the Greatest Teacher and Source of Inspiration Essay
History is the greatest teacher and source of inspiration. Our country, the United States of America, is home to the greatest legendary heroes and scholars who have forged the shape of the today’s world. Former President, J. F. Kennedy, when he “welcomed Nobel Prize winners into the White House in 1962, he out rightly admitted that he was obliged to share the room with the world’s greatest sources of knowledge with the exception of one, Thomas Jefferson”.
Thomas Jefferson was a former President, Politician, Architect, archeologist, paleontologist, musician, inventor, revolutionist and scholar. If I were given the humble chance to travel back in time and get a chance to interview Thomas Jefferson I would ask him the following questions:
- What is your own opinion what do you have to say about banking establishments and the role they play in their environment?
- As a politician and the president of United States of America, which has just gained independence which elements do you intend to enshrine in the domestic policy?
- Following the hot debate and conflicts involving the thorny issue of slave trade, do you consider yourself as a crusader for or against slave trade?
- As The United States of America tries to establish itself as a giant nation in the world what are the various foreign policies you are putting in place to govern the relationship between The United States of America and other countries?
- What is your take on the majority rule and what way should the minorities take to redress any wrongs done on them?
- What are your take on education and its importance on the advancement of United States into one of the strongest countries in the world?
In 1816, Jefferson noted “banking establishments were more dangerous than standing armies and therefore if necessary that such institutions be properly controlled.” Thomas Jefferson was against most banking institutions and their famous discounting techniques which allowed people to spend money which they have not earned at the price of jargons called interest rates.
He thought that banks and their aggressive search for money would swindle the children of America who would wake up homeless one day in the land that belonged to their fore fathers. For instance, from his personal experience, he got into a lot of debt and hard to mortgage his property and slaves.
He believed that such institutions would be used by hereditary aristocrats to further their ambitions at the expense of the citizens. Although Thomas Jefferson tried to lobby policy makers to accept his line of reasoning but they refused only to regret later in 1812 when a financial chaos was formed as a result of war.
He would in turn be very categorical and blame the current financial institutions such as the Wall Street and credit card institutions which have handed massive debt to the citizens of America. It is this debt and their discounting techniques which have ended up leaving Americans with no cash money in their pockets leading to shortage of funds and unemployment.
This is because he thought that banks snatched wealth/power from the people and concentrated the wealth/power between a few people. Therefore he would consequently blame the current financial downfall on the banking and financial system.
Jefferson’s domestic policy was aimed at liberty and freedom. He believed that America should not enter into any association with any country that hindered the rights and liberty of the American people. He believed in republicanism and American exceptionalism. The term republicanism argued that the country and nation belonged to its citizens.
No man and woman should therefore have his/her rights violated since they are enshrined in the declaration of independence. Having championed for the release of slaves with no success, and was the first president who came up with a formal Indian removal plan that was considered humane.
In a letter to one of his friends Samuel Ker cheval, Thomas Jefferson insisted that the foundation of the republican governance was to secure equal rights for all American citizens are it in person or property. Arguably, Thomas Jefferson was a defender of civil liberties.
He further went a step to oppose the principles of hereditary aristocracy that would go ahead to form a big gap between the rich and poor. IT is these same hereditary arrangements that would aggrandize opportunities for a given sect of people and kill the spirit upon which the country was founded on.
As far as the issue of human rights and slavery is concerned, Thomas Jefferson would advocate for human right s and ensure that all human beings should enjoy the liberty and freedom of the land. Thomas Jefferson did not advocate for slave trade he in fact educated and trained all his slaves with exemplary educational and literary skills.
Although Thomas Jefferson had many plantations of slaves he often admitted that slavery was a shame and many a times tried do fight the institution of slave trade. In fact in 1907 he went ahead to sign a bill banning importation of slaves into the United States of America. In his notes on the state of Virginia he attacked slavery and thought that it was duty of the state and society to release slaves.
In fact in the first draft of the declaration of independence he condemned British slave trade and violation of distant people human rights who did not offend her.
Unfortunately this was dropped from the final draft of the declaration of independence. It is therefore clear that Thomas Jefferson was opposed to slavery and slave trade. Therefore it is right to say Jefferson found slavery not to be right and this is why he treated them with dignity and even went ahead to right and publish books on slavery, acting as a voice for the rights of this people who were slaves.
As far as foreign policy was concerned Thomas Jefferson was a famous fan of international trade but was strongly opposed to country alliances he was once quoted in 1779 saying “Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto.”
This is why he was considered to be a strong republican and therefore a champion for republicanism calling for Americans to love their country and that the citizens be the people who decide who should govern them. It will be true to derive that this was America’s foreign policy. Thomas Jefferson wanted to maintain America’s freedom and liberty and not involve himself with European wars and disputes.
His overall foreign policy was friendship peace and prosperity for all nations of the world. He thought that America’s national security would be compromised by meddling in other peoples affairs. Which is consequently true to date many Americans are being kidnapped and the American government is often asked to release foreign political prisoners or even withdraw troops from certain areas.
Thomas Jefferson believed that it was better to make no treaty than make a bad one; he was opposed to treaties that called for power sharing and preferred peacemaking treaties that lead to stability and peace of nations and regions. Therefore America struggled to separate its systems from European systems.
Thomas Jefferson said to Benjamin Waring (in 1801) “The will of the people… is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.”. Thomas Jefferson believed that for decisions to be made and a country to be ran smoothly than the will of the majority must prevail, therefore incase a minority decision that was to be imposed on the majority would be considered an evil.
In this case Thomas Jefferson knew the dangers that could arise out of entrenchment by malicious individuals who would want to impose their opinions on other citizens of the republic. This goes ahead to support that Jefferson was among the first supporters of democracy. He also went ahead to advice those who were minorities and felt deprived of certain rights by the majority should search for good avenues to redress their plight.
As far as education was concerned Thomas Jefferson led from the front. He was a polymath who had ability to tackle many disciplines ranging from mathematics to arts. He even made sure that he educated his slaves in reading and writing and also other technical skills.
He is considered the father of the University of Virginia where he made an elaborate plan of seeing able students through university. He tabled a bill in 1817 that intended to unearth talent that was buried in poverty; he believed that by doing this the number of educated brains would triple output in the United States of Americas compared to other countries.
The bill further supposed that there be a school within every county and district collages near every locality plus a good university system. Being amongst the greatest scholars who have ever lived in this planet it is clear that Thomas Jefferson took education seriously and understood its importance in developing the nation and spreading his spirit of republicanism which aimed at improving the lives of every citizen.
Bernstein, Richard. Thomas Jefferson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Holmes, Jerry. Thomas Jefferson: a chronology of his thoughts. Boston: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.
Jefferson, Thomas. Thomas Jefferson: His Words and Vision. New York, Peter Pauper Press, 1998.
Reynolds, David. Empire of Liberty: A New History. London: Penguin America, 2010.
Schama, Simon. The American Future: A History from The Founding Fathers To Barack Obama. New York, NY: Vintage, 2009.
- Richard Bernstein, Thomas Jefferson (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 6.
- Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson: His Words and Vision (New York, Peter Pauper Press, 1998), 78.
- Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson: His Words and Vision (New York, Peter Pauper Press, 1998), 46.
- Jerry Holmes, Thomas Jefferson: a chronology of his thoughts (Boston: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), 58.
- David Reynolds, Empire of Liberty: A New History (London: Penguin America, 2010), 104.
- Simon Schama, The American Future: A History from The Founding Fathers To Barack Obama (New York, NY: Vintage, 2009), 141.
Thomas Jefferson’s Biography Research Paper
Thomas Jefferson (13th April, 1743-4th July, 1826) was the third President of United States (1801-1809). He is largely believed to be the chief author of independence assertion. He envisioned America as a great place of liberty and not only was he a figure of renaissance, but also of enlightenment.
He was fluent in more than five languages, and had scripted over sixteen thousand letters in the course of his life. He was qualified in many fields and could act as a lawyer, inventor, scientist, architect, statesman among many other professions.
In his life he had held many positions: elected to Virginia House of Burgesses, the Continental Congress as a delegate, Governor of Virginia; peace diplomat with Britain, Envoy to France; the French Court minister; Secretary of State; established Democratic-Republican party, established University of Virginia, Vice President of the United States and then President.
Jefferson was born to a wealthy family on a family farm in Virginia and had six sisters and three brothers. He was tutored in classical tradition by a learned man called Maury, he then attended William and Mary college at age sixteen and later pursued law under professor Wythe until he became a practitioner.
Besides practicing law, he represented the County of Albemarle in the Virginia Burgesses House. He later married and built a mansion called Monticello. Jefferson, while a member of the committee mandated to draft a declaration of independence, was selected by the committee to write the draft which he did and was later adopted (Hitchens, 2009).
Around June of 1779 he succeeded Henry as Governor of Virginia. His term as a governor was clouded by hesitation because of the war with Britain. He never vied for a second term and even wished the military could take over.
After declining to vie for a second term as governor he retired to his home to write, rest, and cater for his sick wife. While on retirement, Jefferson engaged in some writing where he took some notes entailing the (Virginia) state but this was never comprehensive. His wife passed at this time and he became traumatized.
However, Washington appointed him to negotiate peace with the British a mission he never accomplished since peace was brokered even before he could set sail. In 1784 he headed to France as an associate diplomat. While in France he authored an article about ascertaining the ideal (standard) weights, right measures, and legal tender for the US. The year that followed saw him joining the cabinet as a full fledged member.
He served for a period of five years and returned to the United States. On returning home (in 1789), he was assigned more assignments in the then government headed by Washington. That put him in a very thorny and responsive position.
Jefferson, alongside many others, was central and important of the initial form the country was taking under the very first centralized administration.
Jefferson was stridently and continuously at odds with his fellow cabinet members (i.e. Adams and Hamilton), both of whom he would find to be too dictatorial and also too fast to take a great deal of power in the part of the new administration. It was this mounting pressure that saw him resign from his cabinet duties in the year 1793 and later formed his own party (Democrat-republican).
The competition continued. In 1796, Jefferson run for the presidency post, however, he lost and became the vice president under the man whom he thought too hard to put up with. The two only met once on the street and never communicated face to face during the whole term.
In 1801 he vied for the presidency and won this time round. He did serve for two successive terms and undoubtedly played a deciding fundamental role in forming the personality and the fundamental nature of the American Presidency.
For the duration of his presidency, the 12th alteration to the Constitution was made thus changing the manner in which the country’s VP was chosen in a bid to separate rival contenders from serving in the same office. He went on to carry out one address (state union) and later conveyed them, as generally obligated by the American constitution, only in black and white form.
He also acquired Louisiana from Napoleon, broadening the borders of the nation far and wide and in the process creating the principle (manifest destiny).
Thomas Jefferson is among the central figures who participated in laying a firm foundation for the United States both as a leader and intellectual figure. His manifest destiny doctrine was used to ascend the country into a super power and is still in use to date.
He wished to be remembered for only two things; as the person who wrote the Declaration of Independence, and also the one who founded the University of Virginia. He died on July 4th, as the nation celebrated in unity the fiftieth anniversary of his authentic and splendid Declaration (Randall, 1994).
Hitchens, C. (2009). Thomas Jefferson: Author of America. New York: HarperCollins.
Randall, S. W. (1994). Thomas Jefferson: A Life. New York: Harper Perennial.
Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia Essay
Thomas Jefferson was a truly important figure in our nation’s history. He was one of our Founding Fathers, an author of the Declaration of Independence, the third president of United States, and a famous abolitionist. Although he was mostly known as an important leader of his country, he was also considered an active abolitionist.
During his presidency, his decisions had a profound impact on our nation’s political philosophy. Even though Thomas Jefferson was not a popular political leader during his time and was considered a radical figure, his opinion on slavery was widely accepted by many European countries. Thanks to Jefferson’s agreements with European countries, he was able to stop the importation of slaves to America.
Furthermore, Thomas Jefferson helped to establish Liberia in order to relocate African Americans to Africa. In this essay, I will use Notes on the State of Virginia to interpret and explore the political views and philosophy he used to create the republican form of government, as well as his radical opinion that slavery should be abolished in the United States. From the beginning of his presidency until his death in 1809, his leadership of America had a dramatic impact on our political and social structure.
Thomas Jefferson’s legacy began at the dawn of the Revolutionary War. He was already a well-known figure who vigorously attack the British rule in America.
In his main argument, Jefferson states “many of the laws which were in force during the monarchy being relative merely to that form of government, or inculcating principles inconsistent with republicanism.”(Jefferson 264) Instead, he supports the idea that people needed to have the power to control their own government, and opportunity to express their own opinion about their government.
Furthermore, he felt that England’s Parliament was the legislature of Great Britain only, and had no legislative authority in America. After the Revolutionary War, Jefferson continued to spread his ideology in the creation of our government. He thought that the people should not rely on their government because the government is the representative of the people.
In his mind, this was the way to create a true form of republican government, in which the people and their government are intertwined (Borden 103). When Jefferson became the third president of the United States during extremely partisan government and an unstable economy, this philosophy became widely popular and it was labeled Jeffersonian.
In 1801, Jefferson published his only full-length book: Notes on the State of Virginia (Onuf 65). This work describes Jefferson’s view on how to create a good government and a perfectly balanced society. He expresses the importance of the need for government reform. At the time of its publication, this work was significant for several reasons: first, the idea of reforming the government relied on the people, rather than the people relying on the government.
The second reason was the idea of creating a society where all races could be equal. The last reason was the idea of creating a national education system that could teach the people how to protect and defend their individual rights (Borden 79). These three issues were considered extremely radical at that time, and no other institutions or countries had ever promoted them.
Unlike the moral sense doctrine, Jefferson felt that the only way to secure a republic was to first secure individual rights. Although Jefferson had borrowed this idea from Locke, his idea was very different. The first difference was that Jefferson started with a more amiable view of human nature where one’s self-interest and moral duty are brought into closer alignment through the operation of an innate moral sense.
The second difference was that Jefferson rejected Locke’s hierarchy of the passions, which elevated one’s desire for comfortable self-preservation as the single source of individual rights. Jefferson concluded that pride and desire for self-government could also serve as a source for an individual’s right to be liberty.
The third difference was that Jefferson’s view on individual rights was not based on human selfishness, but the will to pursue happiness. (Braman 90) In other words to summarize these ideas is that one’s desire to do good unto others, therefore people are motivated to do good things. These changes had a dramatic impact on our present government, such that they created the government’s role in our society, which is to reinforce society’s moral sense.
In return, the people developed the pursuit of happiness and shouldered their moral obligation to run the government properly. (Braman 43) Therefore, it was vital for the government to educate its citizens and reinforce our moral senses to stabilize the society. The core of this philosophy and the changes it enacted created a Republican government that was a more positive form of government than classical liberalism.
As Jefferson tried to emphasize individual rights, he never forgot to address the importance of government to society. He argued that if a person chose to live in a society he or she must also agree to give up some of his or her rights. Without a civilization to enforce the equal rights of those who are physically weaker, natural societies tend to slide into barbarism. During the late 1790s, Jefferson’s administration took strong steps to shape our education system purpose the creation of public universities.
Since his main argument for the role of the government was to lead, he strongly believed in creating a national education system directed by the government because he felt that education was the key to resolving social injustices and creating an efficient way to balance the government and individual rights. Another main argument found in his writing was his promotion of an agrarian economy, which was unique at this time.
He based his continual insistence that a republic of farmers and agriculture was morally superior on the teachings of Aristotle, who had emphasized that a farmer’s purpose was just as important as an elite’s purpose, and that purpose for farmers is productivity which help to stable not just the economy but also the social structure.
In this book, Jefferson addressed this problem by suggesting that specialization of labor and increased economic flow come leads to problems such as social gap between the poor and the rich, which can cause social chaos. (Onuf 85) From this one is able to conclude that Jefferson advocated a non-commercial, self-sufficient agrarian economy populated with farmers.
Under his encouragement, the threshing machine was invented, new breeds of sheep were successfully introduced, and soil conservation through crop rotation was advocated.
Another main issue was slavery. In this book, he stated that the United States was trapped by a system inherited from the Old World and could do little to change. In his original draft of the Declaration of Independence, he inserted a clause condemning the Atlantic slave trade and blaming George III for his support of it. For Jefferson, the very purpose of creating a Republican form of government was to ensure human equality, but slavery was clearly a violation of naturally equal human rights.
Throughout his political career, Jefferson never abandoned this belief and he think that the only resolution of the problem would involve educating both masters and slaves. (Cogliano 78) Jefferson frequently mentions that his idea to abolish slavery not only needed to be reinforced by the government through use of force, but also that it was equally important to find an alternative way for people to abandon their old beliefs by educating them.
When Jefferson became the third president of the United States, he immediately passed a law that outlawed the further importation of slaves to the United States, which was the first step towards abolishing slavery in US history. He further outlawed any slavery in the West and established freeman guarantees policy to those states. (Onuf 190)
According to Jefferson, although slavery was unjust, when emancipation came at some date in the future, slaves and their descendants should not remain in the United States. In Jefferson’s mind, emancipation must be accompanied by the removal of former slaves from the country, and which he provided the answer by creating the nation of Liberia as a destination for the former slaves. (Cogliano 80)
In his book, Jefferson did draw a clear visible line of race, where he felt that whites are somewhat superior to the blacks. He states “that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.
It is not against experience to suppose, that different species of the same genus, or varieties of the same species, may possess different qualifications.” (Jefferson 270) This explains his belief that Blacks are inferior not because of their body chemistry or life experiences, they are inferior because nature created a difference that made them disadvantageous to Whites.
This can be seen as Jefferson’s belief that differences can cause inequality not because of nature but by Men. But we need to understand that his belief in creating a stable economy by promoting agriculture was deeply influence by this decision. It will be reasonable to think his first priority was to protect the interests and unity of our country and equality among races was second.
The significance of this letter is that it serves as an important piece of information that provides one with extended insight into the fundamental principle of Jeffersonian philosophy. It gives one valuable insight and illuminates the importance of the erudite political and social thought of America’s most influential and intellectual philosopher.
Although he was not an eloquent public speaker and an unpopular figure in his time, by establishing schools, championing social equality, and reshaping our government, his contributions to our society and government are very clear to us today.
Onuf, Peter S.The mind of Thomas Jefferson Charlottesville : University of Virginia Press, 2007.
Cogliano, Francis D.. Thomas Jefferson : reputation and legacy. Charlottesville : University of Virginia Press, 2006.
Chuck Braman. “The Political Philosophy of John Locke and Its Influence on the Founding Fathers and the Political Documents They Created” Political Philosophy. 1996. Web.
Morton Borden. “Thomas Jefferson” The American Revolution. 2004. Web.
Martin Kelly. “Thomas Jefferson Biography – Third President of the United States” American History. 2003. Web.
Jefferson, Thomas. Notes on the State of Virginia. 4. University of Virginia Library: 1784. 263-270. Print.
Thomas Jefferson Autobiography Essay
The logician was born in Shadwell in 1743 (Malone, 11). His father was a triumphant farm owner and surveyor while his mother originated from one of the renowned families in Virginia. His matrimony produced six children, but only two lived to maturity. Jefferson lived in Monticello where he expanded his business while erecting his dwelling. Thomas, the third president of the US, was a historian, public executive and truth-seeker who served his country industriously for decades.
At age nine, he was edified by a clergyman who skilled him on Greek, Latin and French (Kelly). Jefferson then attended Reverand James Maury’s association before joining William and Mary institution in the early 60s, and finally learning law with George, a revolutionary law professor in the US.
He took over his parent’s agricultural estate and workforce where he furthered his early vocation as a farm administrator. He had a peculiarity in being a structural designer, natural scientist and multilingual (Malone, 11). After college, he trained in law and operated in local administration as a magistrate, district deputy, and an affiliate of the House of Burgesses.
In 1776, he was preferred to outline the Declaration of Independence owing to his pose in the Continental Congress, which has been unanimously considered as a bond of the US and international autonomies. The paper emphasized on impartiality in race and assets and the function of the regime in serving the populace.
After parting congress in 1776, he revisited his home to serve as a voted agent (Kelly), where he governed the section from 1779-1781. There was a short-lived break in his personal life in the last year, where he summarized notes about Virginia. He had political adversaries who hardheartedly disparaged his headship as a governor (Bernstein, 81), citing his unavailability during predicaments.
Dates Serving in highest federal office
Three years later he returned to communal service where he served as a commerce representative in France, before later succeeding Benjamin Franklin as minister (Morse, 71). He helped settle commercial treaties while in France due to the opposition of some European countries to the US fiscal propositions.
Thomas attributed their unawareness on the insufficient information they had in the rewards of commerce to both parties. He strengthened his knowledge in European literature during this period, while delivering books, information and diverse materials to Monticello.
George Washington, a special associate, offered him the post of the state secretary in 1790 (Morse, 88), amid Jefferson’s unwillingness. He quit the position, after being undermined by Washington due to his marginal position among the representatives. During his short-lived departure, he devoted his time to the farm and his family, while trying out new machinery and commenced the creation of Monticello.
Six years later, as a presidential entrant, he occupied the post of the vice-president after minimally losing to a close friend (Coates). Four years later, however, he became president, where there was the most nonviolent shift of command in the nation’s history.
Achievements as a federal government official
He had several achievements in his occupancy, the most notable one in the first term coming when he procured Louisiana in 1803, and his sustaining the Lewis and Clark mission (Coates). His second term was more exigent both internally and overseas, but he is lauded for the pains he endured to uphold impartiality in the center of the Britain-France differences.
Jefferson revised the criminal regulations, which was later certified in 1796. He had numerous supportive bills, for example, the conception of modern libraries which took time to be implemented (Coates).
He proposed a state of spiritual autonomy, which was unfortunately discarded, causing distress in the nation for practically a decade, before passing in 1786. Jefferson made noteworthy contributions by suggesting the use of the decimal structure which prejudiced the use of the dollar as the central fiscal unit in the US.
He is best considered for his championing for liberation, despite the unfriendliness received from scholars (Kelly). Worldwide, he remains a radiant, inspirational symbol for the major US parties, open-minded reformers across the world, and buoyant democrats. Some of his quotations are pertinent in the present social order, signifying autonomy, and the essentiality of principles in resolutions.
Thomas left his presidency in1809 to a close comrade, before heading back to Monticello to spend the afterward part of his life. His sold his collected literatures to the state to ease the creation of a library. At 76, he partook his last grand communal service by ensuring the groundwork of a university in Virginia (Kelly), where he fore-fronted the lawmaking procedure of acquaintance, securing its locality, scheming its structures, scheduling its syllabus and serving as the first parson.
He passed away in 1826, at the age of 83, on the 50th centennial of the marking of the Declaration of Independence (Coates). His epitaph echoed what he had given the populace, rather than what they had given him. He yearned to be remembered for his causes to attain sovereignty from Britain, self-determination of principles, and achievement of autonomy through edification.
Bernstein, Richard. Thomas Jefferson. New York: Oxford university press, 2005, pp. 81-89.
Coates, Eyler. Life of Thomas Jefferson. Web. Available at https://guides.lib.virginia.edu/TJ
Kelly, martin. Thomas Jefferson biography- third president of the United States. About.com: American history, 2010. Web. Available at https://www.thoughtco.com/thomas-jefferson-3rd-president-united-states-104985
Malone, Dumas. Thomas Jefferson: a brief biography. North Carolina: UNC press books, 2002, pp. 10-11.
Morse, John. Thomas Jefferson. South Carolina: BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2008, pp. 1-295.
Thomas Jefferson and Henry David Thoreau Compare and Contrast Essay
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) and Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) are two authors who extensively dealt with the topic of revolution. The common definition of revolution is that it is an elementary change in power or a governmental configuration that takes place in a short period of time.
These two authors approached this issue from a different perspective by depicting revolution as being multifaceted. By exploring the books written by these two individuals, several similarities can be observed in their approach to revolutions and revolts despite them living in different times.
In his book titled “Civil Disobedience,” Thoreau explores the topic of revolution in a more engaging manner by not particularly relating revolution to any major course of action, but rather to a spiritual call for the inviolability of principles in all issues. Thoreau explains civil defiance as the active rejection of certain regulations, demands and instructions of a regime or of an occupying authority, without consequential physical aggressions.
The most conspicuous issues of discussion in this book by Thoreau are the concern on government, war between conscience and collectiveness, war and slavery, and the blind obedience of the state or ruling circle.
As he tacked revolution through the subject of governance, Thoreau apparently concurs with the earlier work of Jefferson on the suitability of a government. Jefferson had argued that that the best type of government is the one that administrates the least and just like him, Thoreau agrees that best type of government is the one that does not govern at all.
Thoreau additionally states that people always have their way when it comes to governance by eventually having the kind of government that they are prepared or willing to have. By stating that the best government is one that does not govern, Thoreau does not imply that a government should not have an administrative structure but rather, that any government should make it a priority to satisfy the wishes and desires of it citizens.
The issue of revolting against the government is also tackled by Thoreau in his book “Civil Disobedience.” On this issue, Thoreau states that obedience to any government should not come automatically without much thought since obedience is mutual and should be earned instead of being offered unconditionally or automatically (Thoreau 4). Moreover, Thoreau suggests that obedience should never be extended to unjust governments which have little regard for the rights of their citizens.
Thoreau’s criticism of unjust governance can be connected to the rebellion by the Americans people during the independent era when they rebelled against the unjust colonial government. As one reads Thoreau’s book, it becomes apparent that he detests authoritative governments that are unjust to their citizens. According to him, when a government frequently tolerates acts of injustice, then its citizens are justified to stage a revolution that will see a change in the way they are governed and those who are to govern them.
Thoreau seems to agree that a revolution is justified should a majority feel like their government does not represent their wishes. He further states that such kinds of governments are those that choose to satisfy the rights of a few politicians at the expense of the citizens. He further warns that should the public choose to do nothing about such a situation, their government will continue disregarding their wishes (Thoreau 16).
Thoreau also explains that even an excellent form of administration is likely to be abused and misused if the citizens choose not to keep a close eye on the running of their government. His book gets even more interesting when he states that even in situations where a government seems to reflect the views of the majority, those in disagreement with their government need not fully obey it since the majority may hold the power but this does not imply that they are at all times right (Thoreau 47).
Thoreau, in addition explored the dilemma faced by soldiers in the Mexican-American war used war and slavery to explain why they (soldiers) could not engage in a revolution. He points out that the solders that participated in this war and ended up taking the lives of other individuals in the name of obedience. By the virtue of total submission to the state, these men ended up losing their human nature and became more of machines or tools of oppression that were at the service of some unprincipled man in command (Thoreau 52).
He then notes that the solders in this war could not see that they were being abused since they had families and dependants who depended on them. This he attributes to their fear of the government confiscating their properties and leaving them with nothing to support their dependants if they chose to revolt against the wishes of the government. Furthermore, they thought that if the government could not go ahead with its taxation and slavery plans, it would not have enough to pay them.
Thoreau was a strong opponent of both taxation and slavery for which he even went to jail for. He took his principles a step further by refusing to settle his taxes to the government and argued that if he did so, the government would utilize the same tax to finance the war which he was against. This action depicts Thoreau as an individual with a very strong personality who could go to great lengths to defend what he believed.
Just like Thoreau, Thomas Jefferson is known for tackling the issue of revolutions and also seems to encourage people to stand strong for what they believe in. In his book titled “The declaration of independence,” Jefferson brings out a radical definition of revolution by relating revolution to the uprising during the fight against the colonial forces headed by the English king.
Jefferson observes that when ruled by an unjust administration, there will always come the time when the citizens will find it necessary to challenge the tight grip of the oppressive regime with the aim of replacing it with self governance (Jefferson 388). He then states that when the laws given to people by God are taken away or censored by the authorities, then they need to revolt and demand for their rights.
The need to revolt, according to Jefferson, may be realized when other non-combative measures such as round table dialogue fail to bear any fruit. Jefferson seems to imply that failed talks portray a clear sign that more needs to be done and in such situations, citizens should demand for their rights through pressurizing the oppressive regime by all other means just as the American people did to attain independence from the British.
When it comes to governance, Jefferson seems to agree with Thoreau on the need of a just government. He notes that citizens should always have strong minds so they can confront their government whenever it takes the wrong direction in governance. He further states that without a strong mind, confronting the government will be difficult.
Jefferson also observes that every generation requires a revolution to address its most pressing needs and grievances, be it political or any other. When the desires of the multitude are realized either through dialogue or combative revolts, Jefferson claims the revolution was worth being spearheaded. (Jefferson 160)
From this article, it can be observed that the two prominent figures tackled the issue of revolution from similar perspectives.
Thoreau may have used the example of oppressive governments to state his point while Jefferson based his arguments on oppression from foreigners but the message that clearly comes out from their works of the two is the call for action by the citizens to defend their rights and freedom against oppressive forces. The influence of the works of both men outlasted the periods for which they were written.
Jefferson’s work inspired many generations that followed including Abraham Linkoln during the Civil war, Elizabeth Candy in her demands for the voting rights of women and most notably, Martin Luther King as he motivated African-Americans in their fight for their rights. Similarly, Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” has been christened as one of the most influential American works (Karoubi 47).
Thoreau’s works also influenced many including prominent transcendentalists such as Gandhi and Dr. King, who both credited Thoreau as having greatly inspired them in their works.
Jefferson, Thomas and Fink, Sam. The Declaration of Independence. New York: Scholastic Inc publishers, 2002. Print.
Thoreau, Henry David. Civil Disobedience. New York: Forgotten Books, 2008. Print.
Karoubi, Mohamed Taghi. Just or unjust war?: international law and unilateral use of armed force by states at the turn of the 20th century. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Ltd, 2004.
Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton Essay (Critical Writing)
The Democratic-Republicans and the federalists contributed tremendously to the US politics which was faced with a lot of opposition from both sides and the forces behind this were between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.
They had remained as icons of the ancient politics and this was clearly manifested from their differences in opinions in every aspect on crucial matters, be it in the Constitutional affairs or in the matters of economy. Therefore, their differences contributed significantly in matters of rights versus federal authority, which resulted to them impacting hugely to the US politics.
Differences between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton
According to Howard & Pintozzi (2008, 78) the differences between the two was quite obvious in the respect that Alexander Hamilton was a federalists while Thomas Jefferson a Democratic-Republican who was considered to be a prophet of the enlightenment (Katz 1976, 342). Differences in their opinions and thinking could be seen where Federalist Alexander Hamilton preferred a strong central government, as opposed to that of the state retaining its authority which was favored by Thomas Jefferson.
More of this was also seen where; Alexander Hamilton wanted the power to be in the hands of the well-educated and wealthy persons, other than being in the hands of the people. Thomas Jefferson on the other hand preferred the land owners and the elite ruling class to hold this kind of privilege.
Economy was also a major concern for the two, which saw Thomas Jefferson promoting Agriculture as the future for the country, as opposed to that of shipping, manufacturing and commerce which was favored by Alexander Hamilton.
All their opinions were based on major aspects of the country which needed to be transformed and this resulted to them having followers, although their followers believed that none of them was addressing their issues. (Sandel 1997, 167) Still on their differences, Alexander Hamilton was known to interpret the Constitution loosely meaning that the powers would be given freely without being stated as opposed to strict adherence which was supported by Thomas Jefferson.
Their differences resulted to them having different views on every aspect in the political arena. In that respect, the Democratic-Republican (Thomas Jefferson) favored the French, since he believed that the French Revolution was capable of producing a government that was similar to that of the American’s political alignment. The sentiments were not felt by the opposition side since they favored the neutrality in that domain.
Therefore, the Federalists (Alexander Hamilton) had a notion that the French Revolution was having a negative influence in their country’s politics. He believed in a central government where the power was held by a few people and he feared that the spread of other ideas might bring a rebellion of a mighty nature (Howard and Pintozzi 2008, 110). Jefferson on the other side ventured for another weapon that revolved around the pernicious ideas (Appleby 1982, 83).
In the end, this resulted to the Congress passing a law during the year of John Adams administration giving rise to the naturalization Act. It demanded that a person must stay for fourteen years before citizenship could be issued. With that, the Alien Act was given the orders of arresting and detaining foreigners who did not meet the criteria. More concern was further driven towards the Sedition Act, which limited the freedom of speech and expression.
Federalist therefore used the Alien and Sedition Act in order to silence the critics (Democratic-Republicans). To Jefferson and others, this appeared to be abuse of power while on the other hand; it helped them since the immigrants who had been staying in the country were poor and hence drawn to their Democratic-Republicans. With such laws in place, the less fortunate could not vote in any elections. (Howard and Pintozzi 2008, 116)
Later on, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison produced a note to the Sedition Act and Alien in the form of Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, which stated that if a state believed that the federal law was to be unconstitutional then they were not at liberty to follow it. According to Martin (1999, 103) the Sedition Act was an example of a “hbel” statute, which was meant to overthrow the federalist (Howe 1967, 55).
This later came to be the Doctrine of Nullification meaning that the state could nullify a national law if they believed in it having a negative impact on the Constitution. The debate of rights versus federal authority played a part and this led to the Civil War which was heavily attributed by the differences in character between the federalist (Alexander Hamilton) and the Democratic-Republicans (Thomas Jefferson) (Mason 1952, 234).
As discussed above, Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton had differences in opinions which were manifested in every step of their political life. This led to the formation of the two groups, that is, the Democratic-Republicans and the federalists, which they served including other members who shared the same sentiments. They were the main drivers of politics in the early years and this resulted to a number of things being enacted, such as the Sedition Act among others.
Appleby, Joyce. 1982. What Is Still American in the Political Philosophy of Thomas Jefferson? Omuhundro Institute of Early American History and Culture
Howard, Kindred and Pintozzi, Duke. 2008. American Book Company’s passing the North Carolina US History End-Of Course test Diagnostic Test. Woodstock: GA.
Howe, John. 1967. Republican Thought and the Political Violence of the 1790s. NY: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Katz, Stanley. 1976. Thomas Jefferson and the Right to property in Revolutionary America. Chicago: University of Chicago.
Martin, James. 1999. When Repression Is Democratic and Constitutional: The Federalist Theory of Representation and the Sedition Act of 1798. HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library. Mexico.
Mason, Thomas, Alpheus. 1952. The federalist- A Split Personality. American Historical Association. Vol 223 (2)
Sandel, Michael. 1997. Keynote Address: Democracy’s Discontent: America in Search of a Public Philosophy. HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library.
The American President Thomas Jefferson Essay
Thomas Jefferson was one of the few American presidents whose administration was characterized by irony. Ironically during Jefferson ended up giving his presidency to his greatest rival. He was elected into office in 1800, and that was his first term. Although Jefferson had spent years in researching on how to be a principled leader in governance, his administration had a lot of controversies.
He and James Madison opposed the enactment of the alien and sedition act. They believed that the act was intended to intimidate and suppress the democratic –republicans rather than the enemies of United States of America. According to Jefferson the Sedition was the source of revolution and was leading the country into war.
In his quest for declaration of independence, one of Jefferson’s controversial decisions was Louisiana Purchase. It is imperative to note that Jefferson was very much interested in the west. According to him, expansion towards the west was the county’s future. The purchase was done during the Napoleonic war in France.
This was a significant land acquisition from France which was almost double the size of United States of America. His negotiations to purchase the land were faced with criticism. To a large extent, Jefferson’s actions were regarded as contradicting especially because of the inexistence of contrary a clear Constitutional authority. He forced the congress to sign the treaty so that he could seize the opportunity. He acted without consulting the relevant authorities.
The land was finally not secured by the Americans, leading to Jefferson to impose an arms embargo to the new states that had acquired the western hemisphere. This proved difficult for France to recover from the effects of Napoleonic war. When Jefferson was sworn into office in 1802, he preached peace and reconciliation, but his political program was biased. Jefferson’s main objective after getting into power was to abolish the federalist’s system of government.
Additionally, Thomas Jefferson increased the controversy by making controversial appointments, as well as releasing prisoners who had been detained under the alien and sedition acts. He went ahead to repeal the judicial act which saw the removal of almost all the ‘Adam’s judges’.
The removal of these judges influenced the Supreme Court to make a quick judgment on the case involving Marbury and Madison. It is also worth noting that the repeal gave power to the judges of the Supreme Court to travel all over the country so as to serve as circuit judges. Jefferson is known for using a large amount of government revenue to pay down his Hamilton debt.
As the governor of Virginia, Jefferson had proposed the removal of Cherokee and Shawnee tribes from the areas that were west of Mississippi river. When he became president, he advocated for military removal of these tribes from the west part of the United States. This was ironical since the United States had signed a treaty with the Cherokee nation. Expelling the Cherokee people from Georgia was a violation of the treat signed between the United States and the Cherokee nation.
Jefferson also owned any slaves. This showed how Jefferson was a racist. His racist views were also part of his culture. One would wonder whether Jefferson was evil or was slavery not useless after all. Although he viewed slavery as harmful both to the slave and the master, it’s ironically that he has many slaves himself.
Towards the end of his second term, Thomas Jefferson had almost given James Madison full responsibility of his powers. This was due to his presidential blunders he had done in the American history. According to Jefferson, Madison was the only person who could fulfill his political goals. When Madison won the elections, Thomas Jefferson resigned from active politics.
Thomas Paine, Common Sense and Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence Term Paper
In the American history, there are individuals who stand out conspicuously due to the influence that they had in society during the colonial era. It is amazing how some individuals would stir the society to wake up and claim independence from the Great Britain. One of these men is Thomas Paine.
Though a mere resident, Thomas brought awakening call to millions of Americans when he wrote Common Sense. What baffles even contemporary scholars is the fact that within a very short time, probably months, there were over 120,000 printed copies of this masterpiece. The most intriguing part of it is that during this short time, thousands of people had read Common Sense and gotten the message clearly.
The other significant figure in American history is the famous Thomas Jefferson, the man who supposedly drafted the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, a president, political philosopher, a writer and a reformist, valued independence that he would do anything to see it happen. One of his popular lines were, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson).
Response to Questions
Thomas Paine was very tactful in writing Common Sense and used different ways to justify rebellion. He employs literal imagery and creates arguments to show that Monarchy was of no use and that England was of no help to the colonies. The first literal imagery is painting monarchy as a sin from the beginning of creation. According to Paine, there were no kings in the world not until Jews decided to go against the will of God and demanded a natural king that they would see.
The argument here is that, monarchy owes its roots to sin. He goes ahead to insinuate that even if kings were to be allowed in society, their children should never be allowed to succeed them because this is unpalatable practice that nurtures incompetence, corruption and to some extent, civil wars. “The first King should have been appointed either by lot, by election, or by usurpation” (Paine 119). The subsequent kings should follow the same process; hence, rendering monarchy null.
Paine creates imagery when he paints a picture of a minute group of individuals finding themselves in an island, isolated from the mainstream society completely. As these people get to know each other, they realize that they would need laws to facilitate their living on that island.
According to Paine, these laws would benefit its subjects only if they are fully involved in the law making process. The argument her is that, the British laws were retrogressive and never benefited the colonised people. Paine argues that people would be happier if they make their own laws. The insinuation here is that, England’s form of governance was inconsequential for it did not represent the interests of its subjects.
Finally, Paine likens the dependability of America to Britain to that of a baby thriving under milk. He says that simply because a child is healthy by feeding on milk, this does not mean that it will not do equally well or better when fed on meat. The issue is, America should break ties with Britain, and stop feeding on that “milk”, and mature to feed on “meat” and this would make it even stronger.
The conditions of English colonies as by January 1776 were so intolerable and Paine does not exaggerate them. Being a revolutionary, Paine may seem to have exaggerated his claims; however, taking a closer look into the events that happened during this period, there was a dire need to call for change. One of the thorny issues is taxation without representation.
Paying taxes is duty of every loyal citizen; however, there has to be full representation to account the use of these taxes. Paine puts it clear that Americans had to cater for colonial defence. This was unpalatable given the fact that the Americans were not supporting the Britain through freewill.
Anything that would bring down the Britain would probably be antidote to Americans’ woes of colonial rule. Now, saying that citizens had to fund defence of what they loathed was tantamount to committing homicide. The conditions were unpalatable. Think of “the Quartering Act” which indicated that residents had to canton British soldiers. Massachusetts Government Act gagged the Americans invading their freedom of expression.
People could not meet in towns at their pleasure and they were under some curfew to some extent. Injustice was all over and Britain soldiers who committed human atrocities were to be tried in their home country according to “Administration of Justice Act.” This was justice perversion and the Americans could not take it no more. Paine only expressed what was happening and he did not inflate the charges to justify calls for independence.
Paine Thomas proposed a republican form of government. On his part, Thomas Jefferson seemed to echo his namesake, Thomas Paine by rallying for the same form of governance, Republicanism. These people rallied for formation of such governments because they were champions of human rights and this form of governance would provide that. For instance, Paine states that, “The nearer any government approaches to a Republic, the less business there is for a king.
For ’tis the republican and not the monarchical part of the Constitution of England which Englishmen glory in, viz. the liberty of choosing an House of Commons from out of their own body–and it is easy to see that when republican virtues fail, slavery ensue” (Paine 116). These people were against the monarchical way of leadership and republicanism offered the way out.
It is natural that man will react against what irritates him strongly. This case happened with these two people. As Paine started writing his work, he knew exactly what he wanted to say and he spoke plainly.
Monarchy was inconsequential and with this mindset, Paine could not find solace in any other form of governance other than that which would root out monarchy. Jefferson on his side had the same thoughts. “…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson). This underlines why he chose republican form of governance.
The two self-evident truths by Jefferson come from this statement, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson).
The attributes of these self-evident truths is that men naturally no man should be superior to another and if this happens, then it should be on basis of what is rightfully deserved but not through crooked means like colonization and intimidation. The second part emphasizes on some of the elements that Jefferson cherished most and that is freedom and liberty.
Jefferson’s message in these statements was clear. One, the Americans had the right to have a sovereign country by virtue of their creator, God. For heavens sake, Britain had no right to continue subjecting Americans to their barbaric rule. Americans needed life and freedom to pursue their dreams and live happily thereafter. This could never have happened under the rule of the Britain and Jefferson’s message was that clear.
Jefferson expressed a number of grievances, which lie under the following two categories; those that address what the King of Great Britain have done to the Americans especially at governance level and those that have affected people directly. The first category is characterised by the use of, “he has” for instance, “He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation.
Have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining, in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good” (Jefferson). The other category is characterised by, “For…” This category points out some of the things affecting people directly.
For instance, “For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury: For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences” (Jefferson). These grievances address the King of Great Britain.
Americans nowadays react with contempt towards people with rebellious ideologies. People trying to voice their concerns concerning some things that they feel are not working right are always faced with opposition even from fellow citizens. The United States of America has grown over time in nearly all dimensions such that its citizens feel secure under the prevailing conditions. Anyone with rebellious ideas is seen as someone out to disturb a rather self-sustaining environment and he or she is not always welcome.
There is no longer a common enemy to fight. It is unfortunate that the only common enemy that Americans had to fight was Britain and after that, the cohesiveness disintegrated and everyone supports his or her ideologies. Jefferson and Paine’s words are irrelevant in today’s world. Complacency has taken the better part of many Americans today and they are more than willing to maintain the status quo.
It is impossible for any scholar to go through America’s history exhaustively without Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine coming to the picture. These two great men contributed largely towards declaration of independence and the incidences that predated this important time in America’s history.
With his strong and persuasive language coupled with strong writing style and skills, Thomas Paine stirred up Americans to wake up and claim what was rightfully theirs. This did not come through mere empty words; no, Paine went back to history and even used the bible to discredit monarchy and colonialism. On his part, Thomas Jefferson did not fail his fellow people when he was called to draft a document detailing the need to declare independence in America.
He opened his draft by strong words insinuating that it is God’s will that people be free and enjoy their God-given rights. He went ahead to detail the specific reasons why America needed independence at that time more than any other time in history or in future. Unfortunately, the zeal to rebel against bad policies seems to have died a natural death with many Americans withdrawing to complacency and seeking to maintain status quo in all events.
Jefferson, Thomas. “The Declaration of Independence.” The Want, Will, and Hopes of The People. 1776. Web. <http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/>
Paine, Thomas. “Common Sense.” Republican Government. New Rochelle, N.Y: Thomas Paine National Historical Association, 1925.
Thomas Jefferson and the Writing of the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution Expository Essay
Thomas Jefferson was elected as the president and took the oath of office as the third president of the US in 1801. He served for a two year term and retired in 1809. Before taking up the presidency, Jefferson had an active role in constitution making, and the drafting of the declaration of independence in 1776. The important nature of the Declaration of Independence cannot be overstated; it was through the statement that the 13 colonies in America declared their independence from the British Empire (Jewett 15).
Since its creation by Thomas Jefferson and other committee members appointed to the second continental Congress on July 1776, the declaration has been upheld by Americans as the single most important representation of what the United States should be (The charters of Freedom 46).
Although the statement underwent some editing where clauses regarding slaves were omitted much to be chagrin of Jefferson, approximately sixty percent of what he had written was retained (Henreta & Brody 153). A renowned author, lawyer and orator, Jefferson is credited with penning down the Declaration of independence which acts as a commitment by the government to respect democracy and give equal rights to all people.
This paper is of the opinion that inclusion of clauses on human rights and independence in a statement that was mainly meant to communicate the sovereignty of states. Jefferson perhaps understood more about society and development than most of his colleagues in the continental Congress did. A slave owner himself, his denunciation of slave trade must have come as a surprise to many.
However, considering that the first sentence in the declaration declared that “all men are created equal, they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, which include life, liberty and the right to pursue happiness” (Jewett 16), it is clear that may be Jefferson had realized the way to develop the entire society was to give everyone their inalienable rights regardless of their race, color or gender. Decades later, history proved that Jefferson was indeed right.
Jefferson further stated in categorical terms that governments are instated among people, and delivers powers from the same people (Hancock 3). As such, he stated that the people had the mandate to alter or overthrow a government which did not serve the good of the people and put a new government in the former’s place. To this day, this concept that a government must serve the interest of the electorate forms the basis of American democracy.
Fifty years after the declaration of Independence in 1825, Jefferson sought to minimize the level of political philosophy attached to the wording of the declaration. In a letter written to Henry Lee, he described the declaration as a plain appeal to the world, appealing the world’s assent to the independent stand that America had taken.
Jefferson further stated that the authority of the declaration of Independence lay on harmonized sentiments by people, which could be through the spoken word, written word or in philosophy. More so, he said the declaration was intended to be an honest expression of the way Americans thought at the time (Washington 75).
The Declaration of Independence remains as one of the important founding documents in the US history. Although it’s largely overshadowed by the constitution, it has served as an important resource for movements through out America’s history. Such include the universal suffrage movement, women rights movement, abolition of slavery movements and civil rights movements.
The declaration of independence influence on the 13th and 14th amendments, which banned slavery and consequently gave equal rights to former slaves, is also apparent, as is it influenced on the bill of rights which was later drafted by James Madison (The charters of Freedom 46).
Hancock, John. “The Declaration of Independence – the Want, Will and Hopes of the People.” Jan 1999. Web.
Henreta, James and Brody, David. America: A Concise History. Ed.4. New York: Bedford/ St. Martin’s Publishers. 2009. Print.
Jewett, Thomas. “Jefferson: Legal Scholar.” Winter 2006. Web.
The Charters of Freedom. “Bill of Rights”. Sept 1998. Web.
Washington, Hunns. “The Writings of Thomas Jefferson.” June 2007. Web.
Thomas Paine, Common Sense and Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence Term Paper
Certain individuals stand out clearly in American history. This is due to the significant contributions that they made towards making the United States of America we know today. Among these is the third president of America Thomas Jefferson. Being a political philosopher, Jefferson stepped up and took the task of drafting the Declaration of Independence document with a lot of precision that he remains a popular figure amongst many citizens.
One of his popular statements is, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson).
On the other side, Thomas Paine stands out due to his work in influencing Americans to push for independence. He wrote Common Sense, a masterpiece that fuelled the desire to stand up and claim what was rightfully Americans’, that is, independence. Common Sense spread like bushfire, taking only few months to have over 120,000 copies of it in the market. During this short time, many people read this book and concurred with its contents. Up to date, no single work has sold like Common Sense.
Response to Questions
In writing common Sense, Thomas Paine uses extensive imagery and argues his points out placidly such that rebellion appears justifiable. The first imagery is comparing America’s continued stay under Britain rule of law to babies feeding on milk.
The argument that America had thrived well under colonial rule did not make sense to Paine, making him argue that simply because a child is thriving under milk does not imply that she or he will die once fed on meat. Paine argues that America could prevail on her own because most of her profits benefited the colonialists. According to Paine, a time had come for America to undergo through the weaning process, leave ‘milk’ and chew ‘meat’.
Simply stated, a time had come for America to claim independence. Again, imagery comes in when Paine compares Americans to, “a man who is attached to a prostitute is unfitted to choose or judge of a wife, so any prepossession in favour of a rotten constitution of government will disable us from discerning a good one” (Paine 106). The argument is that England’s constitution was unfit for Americans given its complexity.
Paine creates scenery of a group of people living in an isolated island without governance. He posits that,
In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought. A thousand motives will excite them thereto; the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same (Paine 97).
The issue here is that these people will ultimately form government based on laws that they make for themselves meaning that the law will represent them.
This imagery attacks Monarchy directly with Paine arguing that, “The first King should have been appointed either by lot, by election, or by usurpation” (Paine 119). Kings to follow would also be elected or follow these processes and this eliminates monarchy. If anything, monarchy and ruling through kings sprouts from sin. Paine goes ahead to quote the bible and show how Jews angered God by asking for a king.
Based on the evidence given in literature, it is clear that Paine did not overstate the conditions that prevailed in most English colonies before declaration of independence. It is natural for a reader to think that these conditions were overstated to achieve a certain theme; especially given the kind of a person that Paine was. Nevertheless, after scrutinizing the events, it becomes clear that change was needed immediately.
On top of the list is the call for Americans to pay taxes that would oversee the funding of Britain’s defence. This was tantamount to funding an enemy. Not at any time that Americans felt free under the Britain rule so in effect, they were ‘enemies’. There was no freewill on the part of Americans and hearing that they would fund the strengthening of the Britain was bad enough to fuel rebellion.
There were different acts that worsened the situation. The first act was, “Administration of Justice Act.” This called for trial of British soldiers in Britain; hence, justice perversion. The “Quartering Act” called for Americans to quarter for colonial soldiers. That was unpalatable.
To cap it all, “Massachusetts Government Act” took freedom from Americans meaning that they could not meet freely in towns. These conditions were inhuman considering that all these would come through increased taxes. Representation was very poor and it hurts to give up money that cannot be accounted for. Paine did not exaggerate these conditions.
Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine proposed similar form of government, Republicanism. Republicanism conformed to the ambitions and dreams of these two people. The quest to uphold human rights and freedom was so much in the hearts of these two men and only republicanism would offer a reprieve to their cries. Paine posits that,
The nearer any government approaches to a Republic, the less business there is for a king. For ’tis the republican and not the monarchical part of the Constitution of England which Englishmen glory in, viz. the liberty of choosing an House of Commons from out of their own body–and it is easy to see that when republican virtues fail, slavery ensue (Paine 116).
Monarchy was a thorn in Paine’s flesh; however, republicanism would offer an antidote. Naturally, people react to most burning issues in their lives and most probably, they will come up with mitigating measures to counter their problems.
Abolishment of monarchy and fostering human rights freedom topped the agenda of both Paine and Jefferson. Jefferson noted that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson). This statement explains the reason why Jefferson chose republican form of governance; these human rights can only be established, and thrive better under republicanism.
Jefferson made one statements that explains the self-evident truths; that is, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (Jefferson).
According to this statement, there are two truths. One, men are equal and that is the will, of God. The other truth compounds rights that come by the virtue of creation. God did not create people to be subjected to intimidation and colonialism; but to have freedom, live life to the fullest and pursue deeply held desires that come in form of dreams.
By writing this, Jefferson made the issue of liberation clear. Americans, by the virtue of being created by the same God who created Britons, had the right to be free. Unfortunately, they only possessed this right but never practised it. Nevertheless, Jefferson indicates that nothing was lost and Americans could still rise above intimidation and deception to claim what is rightfully theirs. Actually, this was Jefferson’s, “Americans, arise and shine, claim what is yours and make use of it; that is, freedom and liberty.
Jefferson voiced a number of concerns and grievances directing them to the King of Great Britain while addressing the readers of the document. They come under two categories, those focusing on administration/governance, and those affecting people directly. Concerning administration, Jefferson used “he has” referring to the King of Great Britain. For instance,
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation (Jefferson).
Concerning the second category, he used “for” to describe what the King had done to people at personal level. For example, “For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury: For transporting us beyond Seas” (Jefferson).
Things have changed so much that anyone trying to look rebellious is rebuked severely. People tend to be strong when fighting a common fight anticipating the same results.
During the times of Jefferson, people were oppressed by Britain rule and this was the only enemy they needed top beat to enjoy their freedom. Over the years, the United States of America has developed to unequalled levels. This vibrancy seems to have thrown people into complacency and they will do anything to ensure that the peaceful environment is sustained, bad policies notwithstanding.
It appears that common enemies and battles are over, and people are so engrossed in pursuing the most elusive, almost unattainable “American Dream”, that they have forgotten to address biting issues in society. In contemporary America, Paine and Jefferson’s words remain that; words. They are irrelevant because most probably, they were meant to bring independence and that is gone.
American history would be utterly incomplete without mentioning Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson. These two contributed largely towards independence of this most powerful country in the planet. Paine used his persuasive skills, put them in writings and let Americans see what they could not see in the natural world.
He made them realize that it was self-deception to imagine that America was doing better under the colonial rule than how she would do as a sovereign country. On the other hand, Thomas Jefferson gave his all in writing the declaration for independence in a way that painted rebellion as something that the Great Britain deserved from her colonies. Jefferson draws a lot from nature, quoting the will of God for every man to be free and enjoy the rights that come by merit of creation.
He gave detailed accounts why America could never continue staying under the savage rule of the Britain. Regrettably, the likes of Jefferson are gone not to come back. Probably, times have been so good for Americans to know that growth is continual and America has not reached the climax yet.
Jefferson, Thomas. “The Declaration of Independence.” The Want, Will, and Hopes of The People. 1776. Web. <http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/>
Paine, Thomas. “Common Sense.” Republican Government. New Rochelle, N.Y: Thomas Paine National Historical Association, 1925.