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Significant Feats in the Life of Thomas Jefferson

Richard Pettinger

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Thomas Jefferson was is best known for being the primary author of the declaration of Independence. On his tombstone he wished this and 2 other things to be recorded. The other 2 were the statute for Religious Freedom and founding the University of Virginia. In addition to this major achievements Jefferson also achieved many other things including:

1. War Time leader. Jefferson was elected governor of Virginia in 1799 during the War of Independence. Jefferson would later be criticised for his conduct by his political enemies. However the Virginia assembly later cleared him of all criticism and passed a resolution offering appreciation of his conduct

2. Adoption of the Dollar. In 1792 Congress approved Jefferson’s plan of using a decimal currency, independent of the British Pound.

3. Minister to France. During his time in Paris from 1784-1789 he worked to improved trade negations between the fledgling American nation and other European counties. Whilst in France he looked closely at the example of the French revolution and saw the mistakes America should avoid.

4. Avoiding War. Whilst President, Jefferson said one of the things of which he was most proud was avoiding an unnecessary war. During the Napoleonic war Britain and France frequently violated American sovereignty. There were many in America who wished to retaliate e. g. Chesapeake affair (1807) However Jefferson preferred to avoid war and managed to keep the nation out of fighting in this instance

5. Purchase of lands to the West. One of Jefferson’s most remarkable achievements was the Louisiana Purchase (1803). In this he managed to purchase significant stretches of land in the West of America. This would prove to be very important with the expansion of America into the West. Without it the US may have remained a fractured nation.

6. Good Relations with Native Indians. It was Jefferson’s desire to promote friendly relations with the Native American populations. In 1803 he sent an exploration party, Lewis and Clark Expedition into the West. Many Native Indians were giving a medal of friendship, which had Jefferson’s portrait on one sign and the sign of friendship on the other.

7. Attempts to abolish slavery. Although a slave owner Thomas Jefferson , disliked Slavery and thought it should discontinue. He made several attempts to stop its spread, often unsuccessfully. Notably in 1784 his provision banning slavery was narrowly defeated. It was defeated by only 1 vote. Had John Beatty not been sick the vote would have been different. Jefferson was later to remark.

"We see the fate of millions unborn hanging on the tongue of one man, and heaven was silent in that awful moment

Most Consider Jefferson’s attempts a failure, but it did help to shape opinions, which would eventually bear fruit at the end of the American Civil war in 1867.

Biography by Richard Pettinger. Richard studied PPE at Oxford University and has retained an interest in the great thinkers and philosophers who have shaped the world. He writes biographies of various people for his website Biography Online Richard is a member of Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centre in Oxford, where he works as an Economics teacher.


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