A Complete Biography of Thomas Jefferson and his Life

Biography of Thomas Jefferson and his Life

Third President of the United States of America (Shadwell, Virginia, 1743 – Monticello, Virginia, 1826). Thomas Jefferson belonged to the aristocracy of great southern landowners, a position he had completed by becoming a lawyer. His intellectual concerns brought him closer to the philosophy of the Enlightenment and liberal ideas, causing him to abandon religion.

Thomas jefferson

He began to participate in Virginia politics from 1769, defending religious tolerance and equal public education. When the conflict between Great Britain and its thirteen North American colonies worsened, Jefferson defended the rights of these, publishing an essay of radical cut (Brief analysis of the rights of British America, 1774).

During the following War of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was elected Virginia’s delegate to the Philadelphia Continental Convention (1775), where he distinguished himself as a speaker and as the author of political statements. He wrote the draft of the Declaration of Independence (1776), where he reflected the ideas of John Locke; he justified the rebellion by the transgressions of King George III against the rights granted to citizens by the unwritten constitution of Great Britain; his defense of democracy, equality, the right of peoples to dispose of themselves, and the natural right of men “to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” have marked the subsequent history of the United States.

Another fundamental document of which he was inspiring was the Northwest Ordinance (1787): it regulated the form of expansion of the thirteen original colonies towards the wide territories to be colonized in the West, establishing in them governors appointed by Congress until they reached sufficient demographic entity to be admitted as States of the Union.

Thomas Jefferson was Governor of Virginia between 1779 and 1781. He later became a member of Congress, unsuccessfully advocating the abolition of slavery. As United States ambassador in Paris (1785-89), he used his experience to advise the first government to emerge from the French Revolution (1789). He was later appointed by George Washington first secretary of state (foreign minister) of the United States (1790-93).

From that time he faced the Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, outlining the first American bipartisan system: Hamilton, leader of the “centralist federalists” or simply “federalists” (ideological antecedent of the Republican Party), proposed to reinforce the power of the federal government by service of the expansion of the Union and of the hegemony of the capitalists of the North; Jefferson, leader of the “republican federalists” or simply “republicans” (precursors of the Democratic Party), defended the autonomy of the States, especially to protect the interests of the South, and a democratic model of independent small property owners.

In 1796 Thomas Jefferson lost the presidential election to the federalist John Adams, for which, by virtue of a constitutional provision later repealed, he became vice president as the second most voted candidate (1797-1801). Finally, he won the elections in 1800 and 1804, for which he was president between 1801 and 1809.

The most relevant of his two terms was the consolidation of a division of functions between the constitutional powers, according to which the federal government would be in charge of defense and foreign policy, leaving the States a broad internal political autonomy; with this he put into practice his philosophical convictions about the need to limit power to safeguard freedom.

Jefferson also favored the future expansion of the United States, by acquiring the extensive territory of Louisiana from France (1803) and promoting the westward explorations of Lewis and Clark (1804-06). Following the example of Washington, he did not run for a third reelection (in 1808, also Republican James Madison won ), he retired to cultivate his many intellectual hobbies (1809) and founded the University of Virginia (1819).