Thomas Jefferson Essay

2362 words - 9 pages

In his family Thomas Jefferson couldn't number no titles to high or ancient backrounds. His ancestors, however, were of high respectability and among the first settlers of Virginia. They emigrated to america from Wales, and from near the mountain of Snowden. His grandfather was the first person we have any particular information on. He had three sons: Thomas, who died at a early age; Field, who lives on the waters of the Roanoke and left alot of children behind; and Peter, the father of the subject of these memoirs, who settled in Albermarle county, on the lands called Shadwell. He was the third or fourth settler in that region of the country. They were all gentle men of property and had influence in the colony."But the chief glory of Mr. Jefferson's genealogy was the sturdy contempt of hereditary honors and distinctions with which the whole race was filled with." It was a strong feature,passing through all the branches of the stock and forming a great head and concentration in the individual who was destined to confer immortality upon the name. With him, if there was any one sentiment which predominated in early life and which lost none of its rightful ascendency through a long career of enlightened effort, it was that of the natural equality of all men in their rights and wants, and of the nothingness of those pretensions which "are gained without merit and forfeited without crime." The boldness with which, on his first entrance into manhood, he attaked and over threw the deep rooted institutions of Primogeniture and Entails forms a striking commentary upon this attribute of his character.An anecdote is related by Mr. Madison, which is no less apposite and striking. During the infant stages of our separate sovereignty, the slowness with which the wheels of government moved and the awkwardness of its forms were everywhere the prominent topics of conversation. On one occasion at which Mr. Jefferson was present, a question being started concerning the best mode of providing the executive chief, it was among other opinions gravely advanced that an hereditary determination was preferable to any elective process that could be devised. At the close of an eloquent effusion against the agitations and animosities of a popular choice and in favor of birth as, on the whole, affording a better chance for a suitable head of the government, Mr. Jefferson with a smile remarked that he had heard of a University somewhere in which the Professorship of Mathmatics was hereditary!His father, Peter Jefferson, was born February 29th, 1708, and in 1739 married Jane Randolph, of the age of 19, daughter of Isham Randolph, one of the seven sons of that name and family settled in Dungeoness in Goochland county, who trace their pedigree far back in England and Scotland, "to which," says Mr. Jefferson, "let every one ascribe the faith and merit he chooses." He was a self-educated man, but rose steadily by his own exertions and acquired considerable distinction. He was...

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