Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States

Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States. His terms lasted from the year 1801 to the year 1809. Jefferson was an American revolutionary leader as well as an influential political philosopher. Jefferson was among a group of the most brilliant Americans that resulted from the Enlightenment in Europe. Possibly one of the best writers during his time, Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Jeffersons status as a Virginia aristocrat gave him the two most important things to become an educated man, which was a difficult thing to become during that time.

Those two things, time and the resources, allowed him to educate himself in history, literature, law, architecture, science, and philosophy. He also had a great deal of influence on his ideals that came directly from the European culture and thought because he had been a diplomat and friend of French and British intellectuals. Jefferson was born on the thirteenth day of April of the year 1743 at Shadwell in Goochland (now in Albemarle) Co. , Virginia, which was at the time considered a western outpost and was to remain as Jeffersons lifelong home.

He was the son of Peter Jefferson and Jane Randolph Jefferson. His father, Peter, was a surveyor, a cartographer, and a plantation owner and he was also largely self-educated. His mother, Jane was from the prominent Rudolph family of colonial Virginia. Jeffersons intense interest in botany, geology, cartography, North American exploration, and love of Greek and Latin are due largely from his father and his surrounding environment out in the west where he also absorbed the democratic views of his Western countrymen.

For several years, Jefferson studied at the local grammar and classical schools. After that, he entered the College of William and Mary in the year 1760. During his time at the college, he had become a close friend to three prominent residents of Williamsburg: William Small, George Wythe, and Francis Fauquier who was the lieutenant governor of the colony. Small was of the college faculty who Jefferson had studied under. Small had an in depth knowledge of the Scottish Englightenment and its approach to law, history, philosophy, and science.

He had also introduced him to the natural sciences and to rational methods of inquiry. Wythe was of the Virginia bar. In Wythe, Jefferson had found an equally gifted teacher of law. Wythe led Jefferson to see the study of law not as a narrow vocational preparation but as a means of understanding the history, culture, institutions, and morals of people. After two years of college, Jefferson was admitted to the bar in 1767. He was then elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses in the year 1769, which was the beginning in his long career in politics.

During Jefferson’s years from 1769 to the year 1775, he was been a leader of the patriot faction in the colonial house of burgesses. He helped form and was a member of the Virginia Committee of correspondence. During the First Virginia Convention, Jefferson prepared a paper called A Summary view of the Rights of British America in the year 1774. In the paper, he brilliantly expounded his view that the British Parliament had not authority over the colonies and that the only bond that the colonies had with England was of voluntary allegiance to the king among the colonists.

Jefferson’s most famous act came during his time as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress in the years 1775 to 1776. Although the Declaration of Independence was given to a committee to draft, the document was the wholly work of Jefferson except for the minor altercations by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and the others on the floor or the Congress. During Jeffersons first term as president, a major presidential achievement sparked because of his lifelong interest in the West and in American-French relations.

This achievement was the Louisiana Purchase in the year 1803. This was the greatest land bargain in the history of the United States. The results from this purchase doubled the size of the United States and greatly improved the strength of the country materially and strategically. The purchase also provided a powerful impetus toward the western expansion in the United States. The territory itself was owned by France and expanded over 2,144,520 square kilometers (828,000 square miles) in area.

The territory took up the present-day states of Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota west of the Mississippi River, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, nearly all of Kansas, and portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Rock Moun….. tains, and Louisiana west of the Mississippi River but including New Orleans. The French originally settled the land in the early 18th century, the area west of the Mississippi and the Isle of Orleans was ceded to Spain by a secret treaty in the year 1762. Soon after the end of the Seven Years War, the area east of the Mississippi was lost to Great Britain.

However, after the American Revolution in the year 1800, the land was returned to France through another secret treaty by Napoleon I where he induced a reluctant King Charles IV of Spain to agree to. The return of the land to the Spanish surprised the United States government when the news had reached them. Reason for this was because in the preceding twelve years, American settlers had gone westward into the valleys of the Cumberland, Tennessee, and Ohio rivers. Their survival of depended on their right to use the Mississippi River freely so they could make shipments to New Orleans to export.

Now, this right for the American settlers to freely use the Mississippi River to basically make their living was guaranteed by the Treaty of San Lorenzo, Spain, in 1795. This had granted the United States to be allowed to ship goods to the mouth of the Mississippi without paying duty and also the right to deposit or temporarily store American goods at New Orleans. However, with the secret treaty, Spain in the year 1802 revoked that right and thus resulted in growing tension between the West and Thomas Jefferson.

Now that this conflict had risen in the west, a man by the name of Robert R. Livingston, U. S. minister at Paris was instructed by Jefferson to take two steps in resolving this lost right of using the Mississippi River. The first step was to approach Napoleons minister, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, with the object of preventing the retrocession in the event this act had not yet been completed. The second was to try to purchase at least New Orleans if the property had actually been transferred from Spain to France.

With the orders and the two million dollars granted by Congress to secure their objective, Livingston, with appointed minister James Monroe went ahead with President Jeffersons orders, however the negotiations ended up being impossible. As months had passed, glimmerings of a possible deal between France and the United States started to fade away. However, with the costly French failure in Santo Domingo to put down the revolt and causing Napoleon I to reconsider his plan of making Hispaniola the keystone of his colonial empire, Louisiana soon became of diminishing importance to the French.

Also, with the imminence of the renewed war with Great Britain, the financial status of France also started diminish. So, in the year 1803, Napoleon decided to offer for sale to the United States the entire Louisiana Territory. Even though the two American ministers, Livingston and Monroe were not given the instructions or the authority to purchase the whole entire Louisiana, the negotiations with BarbeS-Marbois who was acting for Napoleon, soon moved into a conclusion.

On second of May in the year 1803, a treaty was signed between the United States and France. The terms of the treaty came with the form that France had received from Spain and thus the Louisiana Territory was sold to the United States. The agreement was that the United States would pay $11,250,000 outright and assumed claims of its citizens against France in the amount of $3,750,000, which the United States also agreed, to discharge. Interest payments from the final settlement finally made the total price $27,267,622.

Despite the scruples that Jefferson had about the purchase being constitutional or not, his other fears that Napoleon would change his mind because of Livingstons reports and from the overwhelming public approval of the Louisiana Purchase, except for most of New England, eventually overcame him and he approved. After the United States Senate ratified the treaty in October of that same year, the flag of the United States was raised over New Orleans on the twentieth of December. Even though the United States had purchased a great deal of land, it was still unclear.

The wording of the treaty was vague and the boundaries were not clearly described. Also, the fact that the United States was to also own West Florida, which was suppose to be considered part of Louisiana was not assured. Despite that the final boundaries of the territory were not settled for many years, the boundaries roughly extended form the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and from the Gulf of Mexico to British North America. The total purchase had doubled the national domain, increasing it 2,144,500 square kilometers.

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