Jefferson, widely considered one of the most respected and influential of the Founding
Fathers, served as both President of the United States and principle author to
the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson constantly promoted his ideas of
liberty and Republicanism in the attempt to thwart British imperialism and
provide a new democracy for the American people.
to many colonial politicians or Founding Fathers, Jefferson was considered a
worldly politician. He was a man of the Enlightenment and routinely made trips
overseas to interact with foreign intellects. The prominent Founding Father
believed in the separation of church and state, and a balancing of powers
between federal and local governments. Jeffersonian Democracy often showed discontent
for authoritative governments, for it distrusted large empires, cities, and
In his first published work, A Summary View of the rights of
British America, Jefferson
outlined the injustices of the British Parliament and cited numerous violations
against natural laws. Many of the Founding Fathers authored publications that
denounced unjust British taxation as a violation against Constitutional or
tangible laws. Jefferson, however, attacked the levies as an inequity against
radically believed that colonists possessed “natural” rights to
govern themselves and the reach of the British rule did not extend to
infiltrate the colonial way of life. Like the other anti-British publications, A Summary View of the Rights of British America did concretely expose the
legality issues involved in taxation of colonies that were not overseen by the
Parliament. However, Jefferson’s overwhelming thesis revolved around the basic
rights of the individual and the necessity of separated life from government.
publication, represented by the Virginia Delegation, was originally intended to
be delivered at the first Continental Congress. However, Jefferson’s ideas were
simply viewed as too radical. Although the pamphlet failed to reach State
leaders in the Congress, it still served as a critical rallying cry used to
spark the Revolution.
Shortly following the outbreak of the
Revolutionary War, Thomas Jefferson served as a delegate to the Second
Continental Congress in June of 1775. Although the war already commenced,
Congress felt the necessity to fully establish independence with the
drafting of an official document. As a result of his influence and literary skills,
Jefferson was appointed to a five man committee responsible for authoring the
Declaration of Independence.
Virginia Constitution as his framework, Jefferson was given chief
responsibility to author the historical document. Even though a quarter of the
original text was deleted, the Declaration of Independence was approved on July
4th, 1776, and served as Jefferson’s most notable and stunning achievement. The
Preamble of the Declaration is still considered one of the most revolutionary
and thought-provoking literary passages on human rights.
Thomas Jefferson returned to Virginia and served
as governor and delegate through 1784. While in office, Jefferson set out to
reform Virginia’s system of laws to better reflect the State’s new status as a
democratic jurisdiction. Along with transforming the education system,
Jefferson established freedom of religion and organized the judicial system for
streamlining purposes. Jefferson also eliminated capital punishment for all
crimes other than murder and treason.
his work in Virginia, Jefferson served as a minister to France from 1785-1789.
Although his abroad status disabled Jefferson from attending the Philadelphia
Convention, he was informed of the specifics and events that led up to the drafting
of the American Constitution.
of the Declaration of Independence was commonly distraught over the lack of
individual freedoms within the document, but generally supported the principles
and ideology of the Constitution. Jefferson’s absence in the drafting of the
Constitution was severely missed. However, his words and teachings perpetually
loomed over the Founding Fathers in attendance. When Jefferson was elected
President in 1801 his impact grew larger as he purchased the Louisiana Territory,
repealed numerous Federal taxes, barred slavery importation, and further
progressed individual rights and thought.