Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
JEFFERSON, Thomas, vice-president of the United States 1797-1801, and president 1801-9, was born at Shadwell, Va., April 2, 1743; and died at Monticello, Va., July 4, 1826. He was graduated at William and Mary college in 1762, was admitted to the bar in 1767, was a member of the house of burgesses 1769-74 (see
—An estimate of Jefferson's character and work involves much the same difficulties as in the case of his great rival, Hamilton. (See
—Jefferson's "infidelity" seems to have early settled down into a mild form of unitarianism, and his letters and those of President John Adams, show that the two were almost entirely at one in all essential points of religious belief. The different treatment of the two men, in this regard, by standard writers, is characteristic. In Adams' case, it is always slurred over as a matter interesting only to himself; in Jefferson's, the language of the orthodox New England clergy of his time is still the canon of criticism. The charge of cowardice rests only on his hurried escape from the British, while governor of Virginia. His responsibility for the doctrine of nullification is elsewhere considered. (See
—Before 1789 Jefferson's political work consisted in his authorship of the act for religious toleration in Virginia, and of the declaration of independence. After 1789 his work consisted in the organization of the democratic-republican party (which see). This last work deserves consideration from several different sides. 1. From the point of view of the individual it was almost wholly beneficent. The individual American citizen is very largely indebted to the spread of Jeffersonian ideas for his unrestricted right of suffrage, his voluntary religious status, and his active individualistic life, free equally from the control of classes and from sympathy with the prejudices of classes, to which Hamilton was strongly addicted. 2. From the point of view of the states its influence was mixed, good and bad. On the one hand, by maintaining between the individual and the national government the shield of a powerful series of state corporations, it protected the individual, simplified the work of the national government, and made its expansion over an enormous territory a possibility and a success. On the other hand, its secondary development was naturally into a state feeling for the sake of the state or of a section, not of the individual. (See
—Jefferson's Works have been twice collected. The best and most comprehensive edition is that of H. A. Washington in nine volumes (1853); the most convenient is that of T. J Randolph, in four volumes (1829). The best Life is that of II. S. Randall (1858); see also Carpenter's Memoirs of Jefferson (1809). Rayner's Life of Jefferson (1834); Tucker's Life of Jefferson (1837); Smuckers' Life and Times of Jefferson (1839); DeWitt's (Church's trans.) Jefferson and the American Democracy (1862); Parton's Life of Jefferson (1874); Abbott's (or Lincoln's) Lives of the Presidents; 1 Statesman's Manual (for his messages): 2 Brougham's Eminent Statesmen (edit 1854), 320, Parker's Historie Americans, 235: Cobb's Miscellanies, 5: Atlantic Monthly. January, 1862; Lippincott's Magazine, September, 1868, National Quarterly Review, March, 1875. The favorable view of Jefferson's work will generally be found in the authorities under DEMOCRATIC REPUBLICAN PARTY; the other side in the authorities cited under FEDERAL PARTY, see also Danvers' Picture of a republican magistrate of the new school (1808); II. Lee's Observations on the Writings of Jefferson (1832); Dwight's Character of Jefferson, as exhibited in his Writings (1839). For his private life see J. E. Cooke's Youth of Jefferson (1854); Pierson Jefferson at Monticello (1862), S. N. Randolph's Domestic Life of Jefferson (1871). and his autobiography in his Works.
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