Remembered as one of the most famous Americans, Thomas Jefferson was America's third president. He is also remembered as one of the most brilliant individuals in history having authored the Declaration of independence. Born in the Albermarle County, Virginia on 13 April 1743, Jefferson went to school at the college of William and Mary and thereafter to study law with George Wythe. He is considered by many as the first president who set forth the basic beliefs and ideas in the U.S government, a trait that has stayed on for over 200 years. Note that before becoming president, Jefferson served as a delegate at the Virginia House of Delegates, where he sketched a legislation that led to the abolition of primogeniture, a law that made elder sons sole inheritors of their father's property.
One of the most significant accomplishments of Jefferson as a president was the authoring of the Declaration of Independent, a document that not only justified America's colonial separation from Britain, but also acted as a philosophical tract on government's role in the society, human nature, and the true meaning of individual liberty. He believed that states could manage their own domestic matters, but a strong central government was necessary to keep the whole nation strong and united (Kelly 1). Through the declaration of Independence, Jefferson poetically expressed the basic purpose behind the government and the state. Through this document, this president was able to correct most of the authoritarian excesses of the administrations before his; thus ending the celebrated reign of terror by returning to the Americans their right of free press and speech.
Jefferson's take on the constitution was that of a strict constructionist. Considering that the constitution did not authorize the federal Government to purchase land, his wisdom led him into believing that the purchase of Louisiana territory from France would contribute immensely to America's security since it would lead to the removal of foreign power from America as well as provide a huge reservoir of land for the future generation (Jacobus 77). Although he admitted that purchasing this land was unconstitutional, he did it for the stability of America. Apart from authoring the Declaration of Independence and purchasing the Louisiana territory, Jefferson also promoted religious freedom by ensuring that the church was separated from the state. He also advocated for free public education and all this ideas were considered radical by his contemporaries.
Despite the fact that Jefferson was undoubtedly a great mind, he had his shortcomings as a president. For example, Jefferson was viewed by many as a as a hypocrite president because he took civil libertarian position only when it was convenient with him. He was determined to see his bitter rival hanged as a traitor, even if it meant that he had to abandon all constitutional restrains (Kelly par.5). Not only did he try to bribe witnesses with the promise of presidential pardons, but also claimed that Burr was guilty of numerous crimes before the jury considered the case. Apart from this, Jefferson was a renowned slave-owner, who argued that blacks were inferior to whites. Paradoxically, Jefferson was outspoken in his conviction that slavery was not right and should be abolished. He was of the opinion that slavery was dangerous and destructive to the manners and morals of Americans, particularly small children. It was very ironical that Jefferson was against slavery, yet he was a known slave-owner. In fact, he claimed that the negroes whether originally a distinct populace or made distinct by circumstances and time were mentally and physically inferior to whites.
Thomas Jefferson proffered to live a simple life while in the White House, occasionally greeting his guests in old home-made cloths and a pair of bedroom slippers. He lost his beloved wife in 1782 before retiring to his Virginia plantation home in 1809. On the fiftieth anniversary of America's independence on July 4, 1826, Jefferson died aged 83 years.