Thomas Jefferson's Influence On America
Length: 1070 words (3.1 double-spaced pages)
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Thomas Jefferson has been viewed to be a positive influence on old Jeffersonian America, as well as a negative one as he expanded and reshaped the country with instances like the Louisiana purchase. His efforts are viewed negatively by some, and very admirably by others but personally, I find that his attempts and reasons for things were hypocritical. He did things contradictory to what he said he wanted for the country. His presidency was successful but Thomas Jefferson was a hypocrite.
When Jefferson came into presidency, his ideals were to expand upon the idea of an agrarian nation, since agriculture and slavery were the leading factors for our country's economical strength at the time. The Lousiana territory held onto by the French was eyed by the Americans as it had many appealing factors to it. It included the Mississippi river which was a great means of navigation for the Americans. Open and free access to the river would have been the ideal thing to have at the time. The Louisiana territory was thick with growth in sugar and flour because of the temperatures and climate of the area. It was only natural for Jefferson to see this area as something that needed to be implemented into the United States. After just cutting the national debt down by nearly half, Jefferson made the move to spend fifteen million dollars to buy the Louisiana territory. Was this purchase the wisest? Was it going against his original ideas? Yes. This purchase greatly helped in America's expansion but totally went against his plan to keep a strong America. Fifteen million dollars, which is a huge chunk of change then, even now, was put towards this new land. If Jefferson wanted a strong nation why didn't he just keep the money and expand on our new found nation and strengthen it for what it was already? Overall, the Louisiana purchase was an accomplishment for Jefferson as we came to have land that made our nation even more powerful and expanding..
Thomas Jefferson had great curiosity after the Louisiana purchase was made. He wondered about what lied past the Mississippi, as he ignorantly guaranteed there to be wooly mammoths, mounds of salt, and volcanoes of great heights. In response to his peaking curiosity, instead of going past the river himself as President of the United States to investigate his purchase and "add-on" to America, he sent two men by the names of Meriwether Lewis and Clark with followers behind them to do the investigations for him.
Not only was Jefferson curious about what lurked past the river, but also if there were more waterways which could be used by way of passage and to fuel even more agriculture in the deep south. What was found, to Thomas Jefferson's extreme lack of knowledge were native tribes of Indians that had been there for hundreds of years, and French settlers. Meriwether Lewis and Clark explored through the rocky mountains and even got lost at one point, all for the sake of Jefferson and the future of America. I find that Jefferson was merely a hypocrite for not taking on the journey himself, nor ever traveling west in his entire lifetime. How are you supposed to know what should be done with a country if you don't physically see the problems and physicalities of its nature?
Another aspect of Jefferson's presidency that I found to be merely hypocritical and idiotic would be his reasoning and strategics for cutting the national debt down. It is true that he did cut the national debt by cutting the military down to nearly half the size it was. This, however, ended up backfiring when the embargo became an issue to the United States, In place of the militia that he cut down, he established military schools to train and arrange soldiers instead of sturdily building it. Jefferson founded West Point military school which is nationally renowned these days and still a strong military base and structure today.
Slavery was an issue that Jefferson spoke out against as he tried to free slaves. He passed laws that would stop slavery from occurring in most parts of the nation at the time. It was wrong to have slaves in the country as it was starting to be seen as cruel and unnecessary for the equal man. Thomas Jefferson was found to have been a slave owner the entire time of passing these laws and even during his time of presidency when he died. The slaves had been part of a constructed will he created before death, including directions towards his illegitimate children coming from slave women he had had, or owned.
Aside from Jefferson's presidency, Jefferson the "man," held deep loves for the smaller subtler things in life. He had a deep appreciation and connection to his home on top of Monticello. In Monticello where he spent the later years of his life, lay rows of plants and vegetables, and gardens lush with plants, herbs, and life with bees swarming about. Monticello had been a piece of land his father had left him when he had died, and with this land Jefferson made something beautiful and self-revolving. In the house at Monticello was his family including his daughter whom he absolutely adored assuming from the letters he wrote her . He would sit with his family in the evenings and read to them and spend his days gardening. He had an overall deep appreciation for life and family, aside from the finer things in life and respect the presidency had held for him. But in his presidency he drove the Republican party by "quiet, and sometimes even devious means."(Brinkley, 181.)
Overall I think Jefferson was a hypocrite and devious in his means of presidency apart from his personality and character traits as Jefferson the man. His presidency goals and aims were not clearly spoken of to the Americans of the time, and he didn't follow through on things that needed to be done or Americans thought would be done. He used sneaky ways to build the country for power and possession, aiming directly away from the original goal of an agrarian nation. His goals turned out to be successful in means of building a country up in power, but definitely not in means of personality or character of one's country.