Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Today is the 266th birthday of President Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson:thank you sir for being part of this nation's independence from England. May you still continue to be part of this nation's history. thank you for writing the Declaration of Independence and also serving as the nation 3rd president 1801-1809! happy 266th birthday! Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–1809) and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776). An influential Founding Father, Jefferson envisioned America as a great "Empire of Liberty" that would promote republicanism. Jefferson served as the wartime Governor of Virginia (1779–1781), barely escaping capture by the British in 1781. Many people disliked his tenure, and he did not win office again in Virginia. From mid-1784 through late 1789, Jefferson lived outside the United States. He served in Paris initially as a commissioner to help negotiate commercial treaties. In May 1785 he succeeded Benjamin Franklin as the U.S. Minister to France. He was the first United States Secretary of State (1789–1793) under George Washington and advised him against a national bank and the Jay Treaty. He was the second Vice President (1797–1801) under John Adams. Winning on an anti-federalist platform, Jefferson took the oath of office and became President of the United States in 1801. As president he negotiated the Louisiana Purchase (1803), and sent the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806) to explore the vast new territory and lands further west. Jefferson sponsored embargo laws that escalated tensions with Britain and France, leading to war with Britain in 1812 shortly after he left office. He idealized the independent yeoman farmer as exemplar of republican virtues, distrusted cities and financiers, and favored states' rights and a limited federal government. Jefferson supported the separation of church and state and was the author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779, 1786). Jefferson's revolutionary view on individual religious freedom and protection from government authority have generated much interest with modern scholars. He was the eponym of Jeffersonian democracy and the co-founder and leader of the Democratic-Republican Party, which dominated American politics for 25 years. Born into a prominent planter family, Jefferson owned hundreds of slaves throughout his life; he held views on the racial inferiority of Africans common for this period in time. While historians long discounted accounts that Jefferson had an intimate relationship with his slave Sally Hemings, it is now widely held that he did and had six children by her. Jefferson is constantly rated by historical scholars as one of the greatest U.S. presidents. Reputation: Jefferson has always been one of the two or three central American icons of liberty, democracy and republicanism, standing with Washington and Lincoln. Americans have celebrated him as the most articulate spokesman of the American Revolution, and as a renaissance man who promoted science and scholarship. He articulated a political philosophy that has retained its power across the centuries. Abraham Lincoln in particular was heavily indebted to Jefferson for the political philosophy of liberty and equality used in Lincoln's battle against slavery. Lincoln used the natural rights precepts of the Declaration of Independence as his guide to a better Union. He considered Jefferson to be "the most distinguished politician in our history." During the New Deal era of the 1930s, Democrats honored Jefferson as the founding father and continued inspiration for their party. President Franklin D. Roosevelt took the lead in building his monument in Washington. Jefferson's reputation among the general public and in the school textbooks has generally been high based on his leadership as a founding father during the Revolution and early national period. Sean Wilentz in 2010 identified a scholarly trend in Hamilton's favor: In recent years, Hamilton and his reputation have decidedly gained the initiative among scholars who portray him as the visionary architect of the modern liberal capitalist economy and of a dynamic federal government headed by an energetic executive. Jefferson and his allies, by contrast, have come across as na├»ve, dreamy idealists. At best according to many historians, the Jeffersonians were reactionary utopians who resisted the onrush of capitalist modernity in hopes of turning America into a yeoman farmers' arcadia. At worst, they were proslavery racists who wish to rid the West of Indians, expand the empire of slavery, and keep political power in local hands -- all the better to expand the institution of slavery and protect slaveholders' rights to own human property. On racial issues historians express dismay at his harsh treatment of Native Americans, opposition to a biracial society, and low opinion of blacks. The confirmation of his relationship with Sally Hemings, a slave who was three-quarters white, and his "shadow family" by her shows that he kept his privacy and was a complex man of contradictions. Historians who held him up as an icon rather than human are disappointed to learn the truth. Jefferson's legacy as a champion of Enlightenment ideals has been challenged by modern historians who find his ownership of hundreds of slaves at Monticello to be in contradiction and problematic to his radical rhetoric on freedom and the equality of men. Historian Peter Onuf stated that "Jefferson's failure to address the problem of slavery generally and the situation of his own human chattel...is in itself the most damning possible commentary on his iconic standing as 'apostle of freedom'." The historian Clarence E. Walker said that Jefferson could rationalize being a slave owner and defender of freedom since he believed blacks were inferior and needed supervision. Memorials Jefferson has been memorialized in many ways, including buildings, sculptures, and currency. The Jefferson Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. on April 13, 1943, the 200th anniversary of Jefferson's birth. The interior of the memorial includes a 19-foot (6 m) statue of Jefferson and engravings of passages from his writings. Most prominent are the words which are inscribed around the monument near the roof: "I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man". Thomas Jefferson's portrait has been found engraved on the face of the various U.S. Postage issues that have honored him. His portrait appears on the U.S. $2 bill, nickel, and the $100 Series EE Savings Bond, and a Presidential Dollar which released into circulation on August 16, 2007. His original tombstone, now a cenotaph, is located on the campus in the University of Missouri's Quadrangle. Jefferson, together with George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, was chosen by sculptor Gutzon Borglum and approved by President Calvin Coolidge to be depicted in stone at the Mount Rushmore Memorial. Other memorials to Jefferson include the commissioning of the NOAA ship Thomas Jefferson in Norfolk, Virginia on July 8, 2003, in commemoration of his establishment of a Survey of the Coast, the predecessor to NOAA's National Ocean Service; and the placement of a bronze monument in Jefferson Park, Chicago at the entrance to the Jefferson Park Transit Center along Milwaukee Avenue in 2005.

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