’s 3 Main Contributions Essay, Research Paper
Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third President of the United States, was the nation’s greatest champion of representative democracy and the rights of man. He was a philosopher, educator, naturalist, politician, scientist, architect, inventor, musician, and writer. His interests were boundless, and his accomplishments were great and varied. Through his writings and speeches, he communicated his brilliant ideas of independence, democracy, and philosophy. Three of his most important accomplishments were the Declaration of Independence, the acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase, and the founding of the University of Virginia.
To many people, Thomas Jefferson’s most important contribution was the creation of the Declaration of Independence. As a delegate in the second Continental Congress, Jefferson was elected to a committee to draft a declaration of independence. This committee asked Jefferson to write the paper, and he agreed. The document was a direct statement to King George III of the colonies’ demand for independence. The declaration recounted the grievances of the colonies against the British crown and declared the colonies to be free and independent states. Since solely Jefferson wrote it, the declaration held the essence of his ideals, and he spent the rest of his life applying its principles to the new American government.
Jefferson’s chief accomplishment as president was the Louisiana Purchase. This land which once belonged to France, is close to one-third of the amount of land that makes up the United States today. In the early years of the United States, Louisiana was of concern chiefly because it bordered the Mississippi River, which was vital to U.S. trade. Around 1762 France had ceded the land to Spain, and in 1800, there were rumors that Spain was about to cede it back to France. Jefferson knew this was not good news. Relations between the United States and France were still unfriendly, and France had the power to cut off American shipping at New Orleans, at the mouth of the Mississippi. In 1802 the cession was confirmed. Jefferson called the resulting crisis “the most important the United States have ever met since independence.” He sent James Monroe to help the American diplomatic representative to France negotiate the purchase of New Orleans. Congress appropriated $2 million for the purchase. The French emperor, Napoleon I, was willing to sell not only New Orleans, but the whole of Louisiana as well. A treaty on April 30, 1803, set the terms of the purchase: $15 million. Later he sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to explore the acquired territory. If Jefferson had not made the important executive decision to purchase the land, the United States might still be the same size it was in 1800.
The founding of the University of Virginia was probably the most important work of Jefferson’s later years. Architecturally designed by Jefferson and based on his plans and recommendations, the university opened its doors in 1825. It accepted not only wealthy students, but also capable students too poor to pay. Free public education had always been one of Jefferson’s dreams, and he managed to accomplish it on the university level. He devised the university’s curriculum and is known as the father of the institution.
In addition to these three very important accomplishments, he also strengthened the powers of the executive branch of government. He was the first president to lead a political party. He had great faith in popular rule, and it is this optimism that is the nature of what came to be called Jeffersonian democracy. During the time of his presidency he accomplished the most things, such as passing laws, signing treaties, and establishing new domestic policies. A big coincidence occurred on the day of his death: He died on Independence Day – the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the declaration of independence.