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Myth and Thomas Jefferson Essay


Topic: Compare and Contrast “Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address” (Chapter 15 in Readings in United States History) and “Hope and Heritage: Myth and Thomas Jefferson”, (Chapter 14 in Readings in United States History) “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.” (By Thomas Jefferson). Thomas Jefferson, who was born on April 13 1743 and died on July 4 1826, was the son of a wealthy uneducated planter from Western Virginia. He was the first to go to College in his family and he attended the College of William and Mary. He was dreaming about a society where men would be judged by what they have accomplished and by their taste .He was the third president of the United States of America (From 1801 to 1809) and also the first United States Secretary of State (From 1790 to 1793 ).He was much more: founder of the University of Virginia. Philosopher, cofounder of the oldest political party in the nation, coauthor of the Declaration of Independence. In this essay, we are going to compare and contrast “Thomas Jefferson’s first inaugural address” (Chapter 15 in Readings in United States History) and “Hope and Heritage: Myth and Thomas Jefferson”, (Chapter 14 in Readings in United States History).

In his book “The Jefferson image in the American Mind (1960), the writer Merrill Peterson is basically showing how American’s people see Thomas Jefferson. They have always seen him as a particular man, a symbol for the United States of America .Therefore, many people took their time to find out something wrong about that man. The man who started criticizing him as probably the writer Leonard Levy’s in his Book “Jefferson and Civil Liberties: The Darker Side”. In Chapter 14 “Hope and Heritage: Myth and Thomas Jefferson”, Gordon Wood really talks about Jefferson’s personal life. Thomas Jefferson is described as someone who had passion for partisan persecution, someone who didn’t care about the civil liberties, someone who thought he was morally perfect and used to judge people around him. In the chapter, they are comparing him to his friend James Madison. Thomas Jefferson wasn’t thinking about the country like Madison when he was taking decisions. While taking his decisions, he was mostly concerned about what his French friends would think of it than the needs of the American population.

The main portion of Jefferson’s life, was his fight to abolish slavery. As it is written in this chapter, Thomas Jefferson hated slavery. He worked really hard to eradicate it in New Western territories. But apparently, he was never able to set all his slaves free. Many recent historians claimed that Jefferson’s acting toward Black people was very disgusting, revolting. Especially for someone who claimed that he wanted to eradicate slavery. During his life, he wanted to make sure that the eradication of slavery will be accompanied by the deportation of Back people of the country. For him, Black people living in a white’s man America was totally unbearable. He was “Racist”. In his mind, Black men were extremely inferior to White Not only in Body but also in mind. People were surprised to see hear him talk about freedom and control Black slaves at the same time. Most people started to think that he was a hypocrite. In 1802, James Callender, a political pamphleteer and journalist pointed the fat that Tomas Jefferson maintained Sally Hemings a Black Slave as a mistress and fathered her with various children.

This was barely believable because everybody knew him as a man who always suppressed his passions. In addition to that, Thomas Jefferson was a man of the eighteenth century, an intelligent man, conventional, and enlightened. But he also had his own weaknesses. Jefferson was fully part of the Enlightenment in the United States of America. His desire to know everything and his open-minded character put him on the top of the American Enlightenment. Unlike in Chapter 14 (Hope and Heritage: Myth and Thomas Jefferson), Chapter 15 (First Inaugural Address, 1801) is basically Thomas Jefferson’s speech which marks the abolition of one of the worst period in the United States of America. The First Inaugural Address of Thomas Jefferson is lionizing the most important election in the history as Thomas Jefferson was succeeding to John Adams as president. During 1790s, some divisions were created between the Federalists (Hamilton and Adams) and the Republicans (Jefferson and Madison) due to the opposition to Hamilton’s financial policies and polemics over foreign policy.

Thomas Jefferson was the first President to take office in the new capital city of Washington. In his speech, Thomas Jefferson says “Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.” He is basically telling his Fellow-Citizens that even though there are some differences, both Federalists and Republicans are serving the same constitution and following the same principles. What is different is the way each of them interprets and apply it. He is calling for Union. Jefferson wants a government when no one will injure another; where each citizen will work. In his partisanship, the First Inaugural of Jefferson mingles the American past of Washington and some heroes into his different principles .By making his party’s victory a victory for all the country, the speech sets the standard for inaugural addresses.

In Conclusion, we were ask to compare and contrast “Thomas Jefferson’s Inaugural Address” (Chapter 15 in Readings of the United States History) and “Hope and Heritage: Myth and Thomas Jefferson” (Chapter 14 in Readings of the United States History).We can undoubtedly say that Thomas Jefferson was a great Leader. It is therefore all the more important to see and distinguish where he had success and also where he failed. Whenever something is great, people will always try to find out the Bad in it and that’s what happened to Thomas Jefferson. But it doesn’t change anything to what he has accomplished for the United States of America. Till today, no other figure in the American history as reached that standard.

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