Thomas Jefferson Essay

1054 words - 4 pages

Thomas Jefferson is remembered in history not only for theoffices he held, but also for his belief in the natural rights of manas expressed in the Declaration of Independence and his faith in thepeople's ability to govern themselves. He left an impact on his timesequaled by few others in American history. Born on April 13, 1743,Jefferson was the third child in the family and grew up with sixsisters and one brother. Though he opposed slavery, his familyhad owned slaves. From his father and his environment he developed aninterest in botany, geology, cartography, and North Americanexploration, and from his childhood teacher developed a love for Greekand Latin. In 1760, at the age of 16, Jefferson entered the College ofWilliam and Mary and studied under William Small and George Wythe.Through Small, he got his first views of the expansion of science andof the system of things in which we are placed. Through Small andWythe, Jefferson became acquainted with Governor Francis Fauquier.After finishing college in 1762, Jefferson studied law with Wythe andnoticed growing tension between America and Great Britain.Jefferson was admitted to the bar in 1767. He successfully practicedlaw until public service occupied most of his time. At his home inShadwell, he designed and supervised the building of his home,Monticello, on a nearby hill. He was elected to the Virginia House ofBurgesses in 1769. Jefferson met Martha Wayles Skelton, a wealthywidow of 23, in 1770 and married her in 1772. They settled inMonticello and had one son and five daughters. Only two of hischildren, Martha and Mary, survived until maturity. Mrs. MarthaJefferson died in 1782, leaving Thomas to take care of his tworemaining children.Though not very articulate, Jefferson proved to be an ablewriter of laws and resolutions he was very concise and straight to thepoint. Jefferson soon became a member in a group which opposed andtook action in the disputes between Britain and the colonies.Together with other patriots, the group met in the Apollo Room ofWilliamsburg's famous Raleigh Tavern in 1769 and formed anonimportation agreement against Britain, vowing not to pay importduties imposed by the Townshend Acts. After a period of calmness,problems faced the colonists again, forcing Jefferson to organizeanother nonimportation agreement and calling the colonies together toprotest. He was chosen to represent Albermarle County at the FirstVirginia Convention, where delegates were elected to the FirstContinental Congress. He became ill and was unable to attend themeeting, but forwarded a message arguing that the British Parliamenthad no control over the colonies. He also mentioned the Saxons whohad settled in England hundred of years before from Germany and howParliament had no more right to govern the colonies than the Germanshad to govern the English. Most Virginians saw this as too extreme,though. His views were printed in a pamphlet called A Summary of theRights of British America (1774). Jefferson...

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