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Non-Resistant -- Non-Violence

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Thomas Jefferson

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Introduction

Third president of the United States, principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and influential political philosopher, Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, at Shadwell, in Albemarle County, Virginia, the son of Peter Jefferson, an early settler and leader in the county, and Jane Randolph Jefferson. Peter Jefferson was a surveyor and cartographer and was largely self-educated. Upon his death in 1757 he left his son considerable property, but the inheritance for which Thomas Jefferson expressed particular gratitude was his father's determination that he should have a sound classical education. After several years of study at local grammar and classical schools, Jefferson entered the College of William and Mary in 1760. In spite of his youth, he became a close friend of three leading residents of Williamsburg--William Small of the college faculty, George Wythe of the Virginia bar, and Francis Fauquier, lieutenant governor of the colony. These three older men gave Jefferson a taste for the pleasures of a society more urbane and sophisticated than that of rural Virginia, and Small and Wythe gave direction to his intellectual drive. Small introduced him to the natural sciences and to rational methods of inquiry; Wythe led him 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 a people. After two years at the college, Jefferson studied law for five years under Wythe's direction and was admitted to the bar in 1767. In 1769 he entered the lower house of the colonial legislature, thus beginning a long career in politics that ended 40 years later with his retirement as president of the United States.

 

Author of the Declaration.

When Jefferson entered the House of Burgesses, Virginia and the other colonies were already engaged in the long decade of opposition to British colonial policies that led eventually to revolution and independence. Jefferson joined with Patrick Henry and others who favoured strong resistance to George III and the British Parliament and soon became one of the leaders of this group. His political style was very different from that of Henry. He was assiduous in committee work, a skilled legal craftsman, a scholar who drew on his comprehensive knowledge of law and history to support the colonial case against Great Britain. He rarely made speeches, disliked oral dispute, whether in formal debate or informal conversation, and he recognized the necessity of consensus for effective political action; the pen was his natural means of expression, and he was a virtuoso in its use. His first major essay, "A Summary View of the Rights of British America" (1774), displayed an impressive array of learning and logic, demonstrated his capacity for intense passion and the ability to express it eloquently, and revealed an inclination to intellectual radicalism. The majority of his colleagues were not then prepared for his conclusion that the British Parliament had no authority at all to legislate for the colonies, but, as relations with Great Britain grew steadily worse, his arguments became increasingly acceptable and his language both persuasive and provocative. "The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them."

In the spring of 1775 the Virginia legislature, sitting as a revolutionary convention in defiance of the royal governor, appointed Jefferson as a member of its delegation to the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia. There he joined with the more radical group in the Congress, and again his skills as a committeeman and stylist were recognized and used. In June of 1776, when the decision to break irrevocably with Great Britain seemed near, Jefferson was appointed to the committee assigned to draft a formal statement of the reasons for such a decision. Benjamin Franklin and John Adams were also on the committee, but they recognized the superior talent of the Virginian and gracefully bowed to it. Jefferson thus became the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. It was an official state paper, and in later life he stated that it was intended to be an expression of the American mind. That was no doubt true, but it is also true that his personal commitment to its principles was profound and intense. It was this commitment, not the mere fact of literal authorship, that rendered Jefferson uniquely symbolic of the ideals expressed in the Declaration.

 

Role in Virginia politics.

Jefferson meant his revolutionary manifesto to be more than an eloquent justification of revolt against Great Britain. He intended to translate its principles into practice and to create in America a society in which the gap between aspiration and achievement would be narrowed. He had wanted to begin by taking part in framing the new constitution of Virginia, which was adopted in June of 1776, but his duties in Philadelphia made that impossible, and he did not enter the Virginia legislature until October. He then set in motion a plan for comprehensive reform of the laws and institutions of Virginia. Two parts of the plan show the thoroughness with which he had considered the nature of representative government and the conditions necessary to its successful operation. A third embodied his passionate commitment to intellectual freedom.

Jefferson sought and secured abolition of the laws of primogeniture and entail in Virginia in order to discourage concentration of property in the hands of a few great landowners. He believed that property was among the natural rights to which man was born and that it meant the right to a decent means of subsistence. After observing the economic conditions in France a few years later, he wrote: (see also Index: property law)

Whenever there is in any country, uncultivated lands and unemployed poor, it is clear that the laws of property have been so far extended as to violate natural right. The earth is given as a common stock for man to labour and live on. If for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be provided to those excluded from the appropriation. If we do not the fundamental right to labour the earth returns to the unemployed.

No society that denied this right could be just, nor was it likely to enjoy for long a republican government. Jefferson believed that the virtues required for that form of government could not flourish in conditions of extreme poverty or complete economic dependence.

The educational system proposed for Virginia was also a part of Jefferson's comprehensive plan for republican government. The lower schools would provide literacy for the entire population, which, combined with a free press, was necessary for an informed public opinion. The upper schools would develop a natural aristocracy to supply the leadership so essential to representative government, while scholarships awarded on the basis of merit would prevent identification of educational opportunity with economic privileges. Jefferson did not believe that an ignorant people could make rational and responsible decisions about public affairs, nor did he believe that men were equal in intelligence or that the operation of a government was a simple job easily mastered by the common man. He assumed that men of superior capabilities were those naturally suited for public office, and his scheme of education was intended to insure that such men, regardless of their economic circumstances, be given an opportunity to develop their talents. Jefferson's fellow Virginians were not prepared for so comprehensive a system of free public education, however, and the only part of it that he secured was the University of Virginia.

The third and most famous reform, the statute of Virginia for religious freedom, met with bitter and persistent opposition and was not enacted until 1786, while Jefferson was in France. Although Americans had largely abandoned the gross forms of persecution common a few generations earlier, the toleration they practiced was limited and erratic. In some states, as in Virginia, a single church was established; others restricted public office to Protestants; some required belief in specific doctrines of the Christian religion, such as the divinity of Jesus, the Trinity, and immortality. The Virginia statute constituted a complete break with the traditional relationship between church and state. It prohibited support of any religion by public taxation and forbade all civil disabilities imposed on citizens because of religious belief or the lack of it. Jefferson regarded the statute as partial fulfillment of his celebrated vow: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." (see also Index: religious toleration)

After three years in the legislature, Jefferson was elected governor in 1779 and served for two years in a position characterized by much responsibility and very little power. When Virginia was invaded by British forces in the winter of 1780-81, Jefferson was unable to organize effective opposition and barely escaped capture when a detachment of troops raided Charlottesville and Monticello. His conduct during the emergency was criticized, and, although the legislature gave him a unanimous vote of confidence, he could not forget the slur cast upon his character as a public official. He refused to serve again either as governor or legislator and retired to Monticello determined to live out his life as a private citizen.

There was a reason other than wounded pride for this decision. He was worried about the health of his wife, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson. Since their marriage in 1772, she had borne him five children of whom only two survived, and in the fall of 1781 she was again pregnant. Jefferson's fears were justified, for she did not recover strength after the birth of the sixth child and died September 6, 1782. Jefferson's grief was incalculable.

 

"Notes on Virginia."

After his retirement as governor and before he returned to public service in December of 1782, Jefferson wrote and revised the major portion of Notes on Virginia, his only book. It originated in a comprehensive but routine series of questions put to him by the secretary of the French legation in order to compile information about the new country. Jefferson's response was as revealing of himself as it was informative about the state of Virginia. In later years he learned to guard his pen carefully, especially after letters he considered to be purely private were printed in newspapers or elsewhere without his permission. The language of this book was frequently unrestrained. It was as if the Notes, written for the most part after his abrupt and unhappy withdrawal from Virginia politics and during the months of desperate fear for the life of his wife, provided a means for the release of otherwise restrained emotions.

The Notes include a discussion of slavery, its effects on both whites and blacks, and an attempt to delineate the racial characteristics of the latter. Although he was unalterably opposed to slavery and reiterated his reasons in this essay, he both expressed and reflected one of the principal obstacles to abolition--the belief that, because of inherent racial differences, blacks and whites could not live together in peace and harmony. Jefferson's summary of the supposed differences may now be seen as a classic example of the failure of an individual mind--and in this case one of exceptional independence and critical rigour--to transcend the cultural boundaries of its age. It is a curious blend of attempted objectivity flawed by the intrusion of unconscious prejudices and unexamined assumptions. He argued, among other points, that the blacks were inferior in physical beauty, that they might be lacking in foresight, that they were equal in memory but inferior in reason and imagination to the white race. He was aware of the influence of environment on behaviour and belief, accepted it as a general principle, and even cited it to explain the slave's alleged disposition to theft. Yet, he could not or did not apply it consistently and rigorously throughout his examination of the subject. It would appear that he clearly recognized the difficulties involved in applying the methods of scientific analysis to problems of racial characteristics, but they were difficulties beyond his power to resolve. (see also Index: racism)

The opinion that they are inferior in the faculties of reason and imagination, must be hazarded with great diffidence. To justify a general conclusion, requires many observations, even where the subject may be submitted to the anatomical knife, to optical glasses, to analysis by fire or by solvents. How much more then where it is a faculty, not a substance, we are examining; where it eludes the research of all the senses; where the conditions of its existence are various and variously combined; where the effects of those which are present or absent bid defiance to calculation; let me add too, as a circumstance of great tenderness, where our conclusion would degrade a whole race of men from the rank in the scale of beings which their Creator may perhaps have given them. To our reproach it must be said, that though for a century and half we have had under our eyes the races of black and of red men, they have never yet been viewed by us as subjects of natural history. I advance it, therefore, as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.

The Notes are otherwise interesting because they reveal the mind of a revolutionist in the midst of a revolution he regarded as unfinished. With some equanimity, he attributed the "very capital errors" in the Virginia constitution of 1776 to inexperience; it was with passionate outrage that he criticized proposals made twice in the Virginia legislature to follow Roman precedent and establish a temporary dictator in time of emergency:

The very thought alone was treason against the people; was treason against mankind in general; as riveting forever the chains which bow down their necks, by giving to their oppressors a proof which they would have trumpeted through the universe, of the imbecility of republican government, in times of pressing danger, to shield them from harm.

He urged revision of the constitution and enactment of his plans for universal education and full freedom of religion because he believed that the public virtue then prevalent among both the people and their leaders was impermanent, in part a function of the revolutionary situation, and destined to diminish. Rulers would become corrupt and abuse their power, and the people "will forget themselves, but in the sole faculty of making money, and will never think of uniting to effect a due respect for their rights." Jefferson's belief in republican government did not rest on naïve and unqualified faith in the people. Republican government would operate successfully only under certain conditions: a wide distribution of property or the availability of a substitute that provided men with a decent subsistence honestly earned; an educated and informed population; laws and institutions designed to compensate for the diminution of public virtue that Jefferson thought was sure to come when the crises of the revolutions were over.

 

Return to politics.

In December 1782 he returned to public service and was for several months a member of the Virginia delegation to the Continental Congress. During this time Virginia ceded to the national government the area northwest of the Ohio River, which it claimed under grants made during the colonial period. In an ordinance drafted for the governance of this land, Jefferson set forth the principle that it should not be held by the original 13 states as colonial territory but should be divided into areas that, upon reaching a designated condition of population and organization, should enter the Union as states equal to the original 13. He also included a prohibition that would have forbidden slavery after 1800 in this territory and any others of which the United States might become possessed. The provision was defeated by one vote; a similar one had been incorporated in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, but it applied only to that territory. Had Jefferson's original proposal been adopted, and had it remained in force, then slavery would have been outlawed in the whole area of the Louisiana Purchase. As he himself later commented, (see also Index: Northwest Territory)

Thus we see the fate of millions of unborn hanging on the tongue of one man, and heaven was silent in that awful moment.

In 1784 Jefferson went to France to join Benjamin Franklin and John Adams in negotiating treaties with European powers. After a few months he succeeded Franklin as resident U.S. minister to the French government. His diplomatic duties were not onerous, and Paris offered him the intellectual and artistic society he had first glimpsed as a student at the College of William and Mary. There he could attend the theatre and opera, visit museums, keep up with science and inventions, associate freely with European scientists and intellectuals, share the politesse of French society, and indulge his passion for books. He loved France and the French, but not uncritically. His observations of economic and social conditions strengthened his aversion to absolute monarchy, and the contrast he saw between French and U.S. domestic morality led to a series of letters condemning the former and warning against the dangers of corruption should young men of his own country be sent to France for their education. (He did not want his daughters to marry abroad and so took them back to Virginia when the older was 17.) As author of the Declaration of Independence and of the Statute for Religious Freedom of Virginia, he had considerable influence with such moderate political leaders as the Marquis de Lafayette, and during the early stages of the French Revolution he was optimistic about the future of their efforts to effect gradual changes in the monarchy and its attendant laws and institutions. It was the greatest intellectual error of his life: France had almost none of the ingredients that had contributed to the success of the United States War of Independence, a fact Jefferson would surely have realized had he not allowed himself to indulge in wishful thinking. Jefferson observed only the opening stages of the Revolution, for he returned to the United States at the end of 1789.

 

Controversy with Hamilton.

In the meantime, the Articles of Confederation had been replaced by the Constitution drafted in Philadelphia in 1787 and ratified the following year. Jefferson approved of most of that document but was critical of its lack of a bill of rights and its failure to impose limitations on the length of tenure for the presidency. Upon his return to Virginia in the fall of 1789, he was requested by George Washington to become secretary of state in the new government. With considerable reluctance, he accepted. Soon after he assumed the new office he became involved in controversy with Alexander Hamilton, who was secretary of the treasury. He opposed Hamilton's financial policies on the grounds that they exceeded the powers delegated to the central government by the Constitution, that they were contrary to the interests of the majority of the people, and that they represented a threat to republican institutions. Jefferson and Hamilton also disagreed on questions of foreign policy, with Jefferson at first leaning toward France and Hamilton toward Great Britain.

The issues between the two men were not purely personal; they extended to the country at large and led to the formation of national political parties based on policy and principle as well as personality. Thus was established the precedent and pattern of a national two-party system. Both Jefferson and Hamilton retired from the Cabinet near the end of Washington's first term, but each continued to be the symbol of the new parties, Jefferson of the Democratic-Republican, Hamilton of the Federalist. Both sides developed organizational skills among the electorate, the Congress, and the state legislatures, and both made effective use of the press. James Madison was, as usual, Jefferson's able collaborator and supplied active leadership of the party until the latter returned to the centre of national politics as vice president under John Adams in 1797. In 1798, when the United States was close to war with France, the Federalist-controlled Congress enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts. The latter, particularly as applied by Federalist judges, was used to stifle Democratic-Republican criticism of the government. Jefferson and Madison believed it to be contrary to the first amendment and therefore unconstitutional, a position they argued in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions of 1798-99. (see also Index: Republican Party, Federalist Party)

The decade ended with the defeat of the Federalists in the election of 1800. It was a critical period in the development of the new nation; politics were sharply divisive, conducted with extreme animosity, and permeated with fundamental cleavages over political principles. Jefferson regarded Hamilton as an enemy of republican government; Hamilton regarded Jefferson as a demagogic radical. Hamilton had a dream of national grandeur to which he was prepared to subordinate the immediate interests of the individual. Jefferson saw the purpose of government as the protection of the individual's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Jefferson's attitudes and behaviour during this period were revealing. He did not exercise an Olympian calm; his letters sometimes displayed anger and passion toward the policies of his opponents and toward some of them personally. At the same time, he sensed and feared the divisive and destructive effects of unrestrained ideological conflict. Not only could the latter disrupt the social harmony that Jefferson valued so highly, but it could also conceivably rip the fabric of republican government altogether. A desire to forestall in America what had so frequently been the fate of such governments in the past seemed to influence Jefferson's conduct of the presidency during his first term.

Copyright 1994-1999 Encyclopædia Britannica

 

Presidency.

The Federalist candidates clearly lost the presidential election of 1800, but under the electoral system then prevailing neither of the Republican candidates, Jefferson and Aaron Burr, could claim victory. The Constitution had provided no means for electors to distinguish between their choices for president and vice president, and both candidates had received the same number of votes. The choice between them was therefore made in the House of Representatives. Partly because of the influence of Hamilton, who distrusted Burr even more than he disliked Jefferson, the latter was chosen president and inaugurated March 4, 1801.

The spirit and content of Jefferson's inaugural address were conciliatory, and so, to a considerable extent, were the policies of his first administration. There was no attempt at wholesale reversal of Federalist policies of the preceding 12 years, and in at least two instances--the Louisiana Purchase and the Embargo Act--he was said to be even more Federalist than the Federalists themselves. There was, however, an effort to nullify the Federalist attempt to fill the federal judiciary with partisan appointees holding office for life, and there was sufficient turnover in other federal offices to give some substance to the accusation that Jefferson introduced the spoils system. But, in spite of the very bitter controversy of the preceding years, Jefferson's inauguration ushered in no drastic or radical changes. Had Jefferson been more doctrinaire or less aware of the danger of unrestrained political passion and of the delicate situation created by the first party change of administration in the new government's history, the future of U.S. politics might have been characterized by less stability than has been the case. The precedent he deliberately set must rank with the Louisiana Purchase as one of the major achievements of his presidency.

The acquisition of the Louisiana Territory in 1803 was of incalculable importance, nearly doubling the size of the United States. Jefferson's original plan was to purchase merely a small area at the mouth of the Mississippi River. When Napoleon offered to sell the entire territory, Jefferson saw his chance and took it, even though, as he frankly admitted, he had no constitutional authority to do so. He believed that the purchase would contribute to the security of the United States by removing from the continent a major foreign power and that it would ensure the stability of republican government for generations to come by providing a vast reservoir of land for settlers. (see also Index: Louisiana Purchase)

Jefferson was re-elected in 1804; George Clinton replaced Burr as vice president. Jefferson's second administration was notable for his unsuccessful efforts to convict his former vice president, Burr, of treasonable acts in the southwestern territories, and for his efforts to pursue a policy of neutrality during the Napoleonic Wars and maintain the rights of neutrals on the high seas. His overwhelming desire to avoid war with either side led to charges of timidity and vacillation, and his Embargo Act (1807) was criticized as inconsistent with the principles of individual freedom and his former opposition to a strong national government. The act was securely based on the power given to the Congress to regulate commerce with foreign nations--a power of which Jefferson approved long before he became president--but the enforcement provisions of the act and its amendments can rightly be questioned as contravening the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable search and seizure.

During Jefferson's presidency the power and prestige of the Supreme Court grew under the leadership of Chief Justice John Marshall. In the case Marbury V. Madison (1803), the court explicitly asserted the right and power of judicial review. Jefferson opposed the power of the court as the ultimate and exclusive interpreter of the Constitution and argued that such a power lodged in one department of the government whose members held office for life was irresponsible and therefore contrary to the principles of republican government. (see also Supreme Court of the United States)

Jefferson might have been elected president for a third term but chose to follow Washington's example of withdrawing after two terms. On March 4, 1809, he turned the office over to his successor, James Madison, and went home to Monticello. There was one more official act he sought to accomplish, the establishment of the University of Virginia, to which he referred as "the last of my mortal cares, and the last service I can render my country." He designed the buildings and supervised their construction to the most minute detail; he gathered the faculty, planned the curriculum, and even selected the reading for some of the courses. He had never been able to persuade his fellow Virginians to support public education for elementary and secondary pupils, but the university was an appropriate conclusion to a political career remarkable for its creativity as well as for its duration and success.

Jefferson's political career was undoubtedly impressive, but it was far from absorbing all of the energy, time, and talent of the man himself. He probably enjoyed politics more than he was willing to admit; it is also true that his often-expressed longing to retire to private life and pursue his other interests was very real. These interests were numerous and varied.

 

Personal and intellectual interests.

He was an extraordinarily learned man, and the range of his knowledge and inquiry is scarcely credible in the modern age of specialization. He knew Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, Italian, and Anglo-Saxon and concerned himself with such questions as the difference between the ancient and modern pronunciation of Greek. At the age of 71 he tackled Plato's Republic in the original and found its author greatly overrated. He attempted an analysis of the New Testament in order to discover what Jesus really said as distinguished from what he was reported to have said. He enjoyed the study of mathematics and found its precision and certitude a welcome relief from the untidiness of politics and government. He was an ardent student of the natural sciences, carried on an extensive correspondence with such men as Joseph Priestley, and sometimes contributed time and money to progress in these fields. The discovery of fossil remains in various parts of the country fascinated him, and he tried to collect and classify as many as he could. He was much interested in the experiments with balloons and submarines then being made, and, while he was abroad, he sent back to his friends at home various mechanical and scientific gadgets produced in Europe, including a polygraph and phosphorus matches. His travel notes record impressions ranging from nearly ecstatic admiration of architectural monuments to sober economic analysis of the reasons for the differences in prosperity between regions producing white and red wine.


The rotunda, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va., designed by Thomas Jefferson, 1817-26
Arthur Griffin

He was an enthusiastic practitioner of scientific farming, conducted numerous experiments at Monticello, was always on the lookout for some new plant or seed that might contribute to the prosperity of the United States (once going so far as to smuggle a particular variety of rice across the Italian border); kept meticulous meteorological records; and, as a keen linguist, instigated the first systematic collection of American Indian dialect. His interest in architecture was intense and enduring, and his influence on the Neoclassical style in the United States was great (see photograph).

The pursuit of these various interests concurrently with his political activities and the management of his estates (which included several thousand acres and at one time about 150 slaves) is remarkable. To this record of industry must be added the voluminous correspondence Jefferson maintained with extraordinary conscientiousness until very near his death. He could have accomplished so much only through rigorous self-discipline and an efficient organization of his time and activities. Yet, he was one of the most generous and approachable of men. Friends and strangers alike wrote to him for advice or came to Monticello when he was in residence. Relatives and guests filled Monticello to capacity--sometimes beds were made for as many as 50 people--and devoured his food as well as his time. For privacy he retreated several times a year to Poplar Forest, a second home built as a refuge in Bedford County.

Jefferson was 6 feet 2 inches in height, large boned, slim, erect, and sinewy. He had angular features, a ruddy complexion, sandy hair, and hazel-flecked gray eyes. His carriage was relaxed and somewhat awkward, and by 18th-century standards he seems to have been regarded as pleasant rather than handsome in appearance. He was sensitive and perceptive in personal relations, gracious and charming in manner (though sometimes cold upon first meeting strangers), and almost invariably even tempered. As a matter of both principle and inclination, he attempted to prevent political differences from creating personal ill will, and though he was subjected to malicious abuse during the political controversies in which he was involved, he endured it with relative equanimity and felt genuine animosity toward only a very few of his opponents and critics.

Because he was so central a figure, so widely known, so articulate, and so meticulous in preserving his letters and papers, it is possible to reconstruct a remarkably complete account of his career and his work. Yet, the man himself--the private man--remains elusive. There was a reserve of privacy that he kept inviolate. For example, no letters exchanged between him and his wife exist. Their marriage was, by contemporary accounts, an extraordinarily happy one, and it would therefore appear that Jefferson destroyed whatever letters once existed in order to keep their relationship forever private. Jefferson was, as his modern editor has suggested, ultimately a lonely man.

Ten days before his death, Jefferson replied to an invitation to join the residents of Washington, D.C., in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the Declaration of Independence. He could not attend because of illness, but he sent his best wishes, and, of the Declaration that was to be celebrated, he wrote:

May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self government.

While Jefferson grew steadily weaker at Monticello, his old friend John Adams was nearing death in Massachusetts. It seems certain from the accounts of friends and relatives of both that each man wanted badly to live until the 50th anniversary of the day that symbolized the central endeavour and achievement of their lives. They succeeded. Jefferson died shortly before one o'clock on the afternoon of July 4, 1826; Adams died a few hours later, his last words said to have been, "Jefferson still survives." Jefferson was buried at Monticello. The epitaph that he had chosen was inscribed on his tombstone: "Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the statute of Virginia for religious freedom, and father of the University of Virginia." (C.M.K.)

제퍼슨

Thomas Jefferson

1743. 4. 13 미국 버지니아 앨버마를 샤드웰~1826. 7. 4 몬티첼로.

미국의 정치가.

 

제퍼슨

미국 독립선언문을 기초했으며, 미국의 제3대 대통령을 지냈다.

어린시절

제퍼슨은 부유한 농장주이자 토목기사인 피터 제퍼슨과 제인 랜돌프의 아들로 태어나 민주적인 분위기 속에서 자라났다. 아버지는 지방유지로서 치안판사를 역임했고, 나중에는 버지니아 의회 하원의원이 되었다. 1757년 아버지가 세상을 떠난 뒤 1760년 윌리엄앤드메리대학에 입학했다. 그는 수학과 자연과학에 흥미를 갖고 평생 동안 그 연구를 계속했으며, 외국어로 라틴어 및 그리스어도 열심히 공부했다.

 

 

독립선언문 기초

제퍼슨은 1767년 변호사가 되었지만, 법률보다는 정치에 관심이 많아 1769년 식민지 의회의 하원의원이 되었다. 그당시 버지니아를 비롯한 식민지들은 영국의 식민정책에 반대하여 끈질긴 투쟁을 벌이고 있었다. 그는 강력한 저항을 주장하는 패트릭 헨리 등과 손을 잡았고 곧이어 그 집단의 지도자가 되었다. 1775년 봄 버지니아 의회는 필라델피아에서 열리는 제2차 대륙회의에 참석할 대표단의 한 사람으로 토머스 제퍼슨을 임명했다. 1776년 6월 제퍼슨은 대륙회의의 독립선언문 기초위원으로 선발되었다. 벤저민 프랭클린과 존 애덤스도 기초위원이었지만, 그들은 제퍼슨의 뛰어난 재능을 인정하고 그에게 거의 모든 작업을 맡겼다. 나중에 제퍼슨은 이 공식문서에서 미국의 정신을 표현하고자 애썼다. 제퍼슨이 독립선언문에 표현된 이상(理想)을 상징하는 유일한 인물이 된 것은 단지 독립선언문을 썼다는 사실 때문이 아니라 바로 이같은 헌신적인 조국애 때문이었다.

버지니아 헌법

버지니아 헌법은 제퍼슨이 대륙회의에 참석하고 있던 1776년 6월에 채택되었다. 헌법기초작업에 참여하지 못한 제퍼슨은 1776년 10월 대륙회의에서 버지니아 의회로 돌아오자마자 버지니아의 법률과 제도를 대대적으로 개혁하는 작업에 착수했다. 이 개혁의 주요목적은 '낡은 귀족정치를 없애고 앞으로도 귀족정치가 발붙이지 못하도록 하며, 참된 대의정치의 토대를 쌓는 것'이었다. 그는 특히 다음 4개 항목의 개혁을 강조했는데 ① 한정상속제도의 폐지, ② 장자상속제도의 폐지, ③ 신앙의 자유, 교회의 특권 철폐, ④ 교육제도의 확립이었다.

1779년 독립전쟁 당시 제퍼슨은 버지니아 주지사가 되었지만, 주지사는 책임만 많고 권력은 거의 없는 자리였다. 1780~81년 겨울에 버지니아군이 영국군과 싸워 아무런 전과도 올리지 못하자, 제퍼슨은 주지사로서 비상시에 적절히 대처하지 못했다는 이유로 비난을 받았다. 의회는 만장일치로 그에 대한 신임을 확인했지만, 제퍼슨은 주지사나 하원의원으로 일하기를 거부하고 평범한 시민으로 살기 위해 몬티첼로로 은퇴했다. 그가 공직에서 은퇴한 것은 자존심이 상했기 때문이기도 하지만, 아내인 마사 웨일스 스켈턴 제퍼슨의 건강이 좋지 못했기 때문이었다. 마사는 1772년에 제퍼슨과 결혼한 뒤 5명의 아이를 낳았지만 그중 2명만 살아남았고, 1781년 가을에 다시 임신했다. 그녀는 6번째 아이를 낳은 뒤 끝내 건강을 회복하지 못하고 1782년 9월 6일에 세상을 떠났다.

정계복귀

제퍼슨은 1782년 12월에 공직으로 돌아와서, 버지니아 대표로 몇 개월 동안 대륙회의에 참석했다. 그리고 1783년에는 연합헌장(Articles of Confederation)에 따라 창설된 연방의회 의원이 되었다. 이것은 1781년에 각 주의 비준을 얻어 성립된 미국 최초의 헌법이다. 그는 연방의회에서 영국과 강화조약을 체결하기 위한 준비위원회 위원장을 맡았고, 미국 화폐단위에 십진법을 채택하는 법안을 성립시키는 등 많은 활약을 했다. 그러나 가장 큰 업적은 1784년에 버지니아가 정부에 양도한 오하이오 강 북서부 지역에 관한 정부안을 입안한 것이다. 이 정부안에서 가장 중요한 항목은 1800년 이후에는 이 땅에서 노예제도를 인정하지 않는다는 것이었는데, 이 조항은 그후 1787년에 제정된 노스웨스트 법령에도 포함되었다. 1784년 제퍼슨은 벤저민 프랭클린의 후임으로 프랑스 주재 미국공사가 되어 프랑스의 경제상황과 사회현실을 직접 관찰하고 절대왕정을 더욱 혐오하게 되었다. 프랑스에 머무는 동안 그는 유럽의 과학자나 지식인들과 자유롭게 사귀었고, 특히 독립선언문과 버지니아 주의 종교자유법을 기초한 사람으로서 라파예트 후작 같은 온건한 정치지도자들에게 상당한 영향을 미쳤다. 그러나 그는 1789년말에 귀국했기 때문에 프랑스 혁명의 초기 단계밖에는 목격하지 못했다.

해밀턴과의 논쟁

1787년에는 필라델피아 헌법제정회의에서 헌법이 기초되어 그동안 국가의 기본법 역할을 맡았던 연합헌장을 대신하게 되었고, 이 헌법은 이듬해 정식으로 비준을 받았다. 제퍼슨은 그 헌법에 대체로 찬성했지만, 권리장전이 빠져 있고 대통령의 연임을 제한하지 않은 것을 비판했다. 그가 1789년 가을 프랑스에서 돌아오자마자, 조지 워싱턴은 그에게 새 정부의 국무장관 자리를 맡아달라고 요청했다. 워싱턴 행정부의 재무장관은 알렉산더 해밀턴이었는데, 제퍼슨은 해밀턴의 정책이 중앙정부의 헌법상 권한을 넘어섰고 국민 대다수의 이익에 위배되며 공화제도를 위협한다는 이유로 맹렬히 반대했다. 외교정책에서는 제퍼슨이 프랑스 쪽으로 기운 반면, 해밀턴은 영국에 친밀감을 보였다. 제퍼슨과 해밀턴은 인물뿐만 아니라 정책과 원칙에 바탕을 둔 국가적 정당을 결성하는 문제에서도 의견대립을 보였고, 이 논쟁을 계기로 하여 양당체제의 선례와 유형이 확립되었다. 두 사람은 워싱턴의 1차 임기가 끝나갈 무렵 내각에서 물러났지만, 제퍼슨은 여전히 민주공화파의 지도자였고 해밀턴은 연방파의 상징이었다.

연방파의 존 애덤스가 대통령에 당선된 1796년 선거에서 제퍼슨은 부통령으로 선출되었다. 1798년 연방파가 주도하는 하원이 언론 및 출판의 자유를 규제하는 외국인 규제법과 보안법을 제정하자 제퍼슨은 유능한 협력자인 제임스 매디슨과 함께 맹렬한 반대운동을 벌였다. 그들은 이 법률이 위헌이라고 주장하면서, 연방법이 헌법을 위반할 경우에는 지방정부가 법률을 무효로 간주할 권한을 갖는다는 버지니아 및 켄터키 결의안을 작성하여 통과시켰다. 제퍼슨은 해밀턴을 '공화정부의 적'으로 간주했고, 해밀턴은 제퍼슨을 '선동적인 급진주의자'라고 비난했다. 해밀턴은 개인의 이익보다 국가의 권위가 더 중요하다고 생각했으며, 제퍼슨은 개인의 생명·자유·행복추구권을 보호하는 것이 국가의 목적이라고 생각했다. 그는 이따금 반대자들에 대한 분노를 노골적으로 드러냈지만, 끝없는 이념 논쟁이 분열과 갈등을 초래한다는 것을 느끼고 두려워했다. 미국 사회를 화합으로 이끌고자 하는 제퍼슨의 소망은 그후 대통령직 수행에 큰 영향을 미쳤다.

대통령직 취임

1800년의 대통령선거에서 연방파는 패배를 맛보았지만, 민주공화파가 대통령후보로 내세운 제퍼슨과 애런 버의 득표수가 공교롭게도 똑같았기 때문에, 결국 하원이 결선투표를 하여 제퍼슨을 대통령으로 선출했다. 이듬해 3월 대통령에 취임한 뒤에도 제퍼슨은 지난 12년 동안 연방파가 시행하던 정책을 전면개편하려고 하지 않았다. 제퍼슨이 명분에만 구애되었거나 무절제한 정치적 열정의 위험을 제대로 인식하지 못했다면, 그리고 미국 역사상 최초의 정권교체가 가져온 미묘한 상황을 무시했다면, 미국 사회는 안정을 잃고 끊임없는 정치적 혼란 속으로 빠져들어갔을지도 모른다. 1803년 제퍼슨은 나폴레옹 1세로부터 프랑스령 루이지애나를 사들였다. 그결과 미국 영토는 거의 2배로 늘어났고 루이지애나에서 강대국 프랑스의 권력이 물러났기 때문에 국가는 더욱 안정되었다. 제퍼슨은 1804년 대통령으로 재선되어 나폴레옹 전쟁에서는 중립정책을 유지했지만 결단력이 부족하다는 비난을 받았고, 그가 추진한 출항금지법은 지나치게 강경하다는 비판을 받았다. 제퍼슨은 원하기만 했다면 대통령을 3번 연임할 수도 있었지만, 조지 워싱턴을 본받아 2차례의 임기만 마치고 물러났다. 1809년 3월 4일 그는 후임자인 제임스 매디슨에게 대통령직을 물려주고, 버지니아 주 몬티첼로에 있는 집으로 돌아가 버지니아대학교를 설립하기 위해 애썼다. 그는 대학교 설립이 "나의 마지막 관심사이며, 내가 조국에 바칠 수 있는 마지막 봉사"라고 말했다. 그는 건물을 설계하고, 건축공사를 감독했으며 교수들을 모으고, 교과과정을 짜고 교과서까지도 선정했다.

사생활과 인간성

제퍼슨은 보기 드물게 박식한 인물이어서, 모든 학문이 전문화된 오늘날에는 거의 상상할 수도 없을 만큼 광범위한 지식을 갖고 있었다. 그는 라틴어와 그리스어, 스페인어, 이탈리아어, 고대 영어를 배웠다. 71세 때는 플라톤의 〈국가론 Republic〉을 원문으로 읽었고, 〈신약성서〉를 철저히 분석하여 '제퍼슨의 성서'라는 제목으로 출판했다. 복잡한 수학계산을 취미로 즐기고, 자연과학도 열심히 연구했다. 또한 그는 흑인과 아메리카 인디언에 관한 민족학적 연구에도 흥미를 보였다. 그는 유럽에 있을 때 보았던 기구실험에도 깊은 관심을 가졌고, 유럽에서 이루어진 각종 발명을 미국에 소개했다. 그는 몬티첼로에서 12㎢의 면적에 노예가 150명이나 되는 큰 농장을 경영하면서 과학적 영농법을 시험했다.

제퍼슨은 185㎝의 키에 뼈대가 굵고 호리호리한 체격이었지만, 자세가 꼿꼿해서 강인한 느낌을 주었다. 모난 얼굴은 불그스름하고 머리카락은 금발이었으며, 눈동자는 진지하고 솔직했으며, 말투가 활달할 뿐 아니라 내용도 다채롭고 유익하여 청중을 매혹시켰다. 제퍼슨은 독립선언 50주년 기념일인 1826년 7월 4일에 세상을 떠났다. 오랫동안 정치적 경쟁자이며 친구였던 존 애덤스는 그보다 몇 시간 뒤에 죽었다. 제퍼슨의 묘비에는 그가 미리 써두었던 묘비명이 새겨져 있다. "미국 독립선언문과 종교의 자유를 확립한 버지니아 헌법의 기초자이며 버지니아대학교의 아버지인 토머스 제퍼슨, 이곳에 잠들다."

평가

제퍼슨의 위대함은 화려한 경력만이 아니라 그의 정치사상에서도 엿볼 수 있다. 그는 온갖 인종이 모여 사는 광대한 지역에서 대의정치를 실현하고자 치밀한 계획을 세웠다. 그는 직접 기초한 독립선언문의 정신을 상징하는 존재였다. 자치에 성공하기 위해서는 도덕성과 선악을 분별하는 능력, 그리고 정의를 존중하는 것이 필수조건이라고 제퍼슨은 생각했다. 또한 경제안정과 어느 정도의 번영도 필요하다고 확신하고, 농업경제의 우선과 자작농제도를 지지했다. 그는 대의정치가 성공하리라고 믿었지만, 그것은 탁상공론식 낙관주의가 아니라 특정한 사회적·정치적 조건을 바탕으로 한 신념이었다. 그는 권력남용을 막기 위해서는 삼권분립이 필요하다고 믿었다. 그러나 정치지도자로서 미국이 강력한 국가로 발전하고 연방정부도 강력해지기를 바랐다. 그러면서도 국가주의로 기울지 않고, 모든 분야에서 시민의 이익을 가장 효율적으로 증진할 수 있는 것은 연방정부가 아니라 각급 지방자치단체라는 신념을 굽히지 않았다. 그는 관용정신과 인내를 강조했는데, 그 바탕에는 진보에 대한 기대가 깔려 있었다. 그는 한 편지에서 다음과 같이 말하고 있다. "인간의 두뇌가 좀더 발전하고 계발되어 새로운 발견이 이루어지고 새로운 진실이 밝혀짐에 따라, 그리고 상황변화와 더불어 풍속습관이나 사고방식이 변화함에 따라, 모든 제도도 함께 진보하여 시대와 보조를 맞추지 않으면 안 된다."

C. M. Kenyon 글

Bibliography

BIBLIOGRAPHY. JULIAN P. BOYD et al. (ed.), Papers (1950- ), is the definitive edition of Jefferson's papers; it includes extensive notes on the background, context, and significance of the documents printed, among which are papers written to Jefferson as well as those written by him. Two other collections of Jefferson's writings can be used for the period not yet reached by the Boyd edition: ANDREW A. LIPSCOMB and ALBERT ELLERY BERGH (eds.), The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, 20 vol. (1903-04); and PAUL LEICESTER FORD (ed.), The Works of Thomas Jefferson, 12 vol. (1893-99). Selections are presented in MERRILL D. PETERSON (ed.), The Portable Thomas Jefferson (1975), and Writings (1984), which also includes "Notes on the State of Virginia," a classic of national history. The correspondence between Jefferson and John and Abigail Adams is reproduced in LESTER J. CAPPON (ed.), The Adams-Jefferson Letters, 2 vol. (1949, reprinted in 1 vol., 1988); the letters are notable for their warmth and, especially those between the two men after 1812, for their discussions of the intellectual and political developments of the times. Examinations of their friendship are offered in JOHN MURRAY ALLISON, Adams and Jefferson: The Story of a Friendship (1966); and MERRILL D. PETERSON, Adams and Jefferson: A Revolutionary Dialogue (1976). Correspondence between Jefferson and James Madison is compiled in JAMES MORTON SMITH (ed.), The Republic of Letters, 3 vol. (1995), covering the period 1776-1826. Information about Jefferson's intellectual life may be found in E. MILLICENT SOWERBY (compiler), Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 5 vol. (1952-59, reprinted 1983), which contains a list of the books sold by Jefferson to the Congress in 1815, replacing the library burned by the British and forming the nucleus of the present Library of Congress. A convenient single-volume anthology of Jefferson's letters and papers is ADRIENNE KOCH and WILLIAM PEDEN (eds.), The Life and Selected Writings of Jefferson (1944, reissued 1993). EDWIN MORRIS BETTS and JAMES ADAM BEAR, JR. (eds.), The Family Letters of Thomas Jefferson (1966, reprinted 1986), includes some 570 letters to and from his children and grandchildren. The variety of Jefferson's interests is revealed in UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA LIBRARY, The Jefferson Papers of the University of Virginia (1973), comprising more than 3,000 items. Annotated bibliographies include EUGENE L. HUDDLESTON, Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Guide (1982); and FRANK SHUFFELTON, Thomas Jefferson: A Comprehensive, Annotated Bibliography of Writings About Him (1826-1980) (1983), and Thomas Jefferson, 1981-1990: An Annotated Bibliography (1992), which updates the previous volume.

The definitive biography is DUMAS MALONE, Jefferson and His Time, 6 vol. (1948-81). NATHAN SCHACHNER, Thomas Jefferson: A Biography, 2 vol. (1951, reissued in 1 vol., 1960), is a good popular biography. A comprehensive single-volume biography, unfortunately published without footnotes, is MERRILL D. PETERSON, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation (1970, reprinted 1987). MERRILL D. PETERSON (ed.), Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography (1986), offers scholarly essays covering different aspects of Jefferson's life. The 19th-century biography by HENRY STEPHENS RANDALL, The Life of Thomas Jefferson, 3 vol. (1858, reprinted 1972), is valuable because of Randall's extensive consultation with people then living who had known Jefferson personally. SARAH N. RANDOLPH, The Domestic Life of Thomas Jefferson (1871, reprinted 1978), by Jefferson's great-granddaughter, provides an affectionate portrait; it may be supplemented by ELIZABETH LANGHORNE, Monticello: A Family Story (1987). Other biographical works include THOMAS FLEMING, The Man from Monticello: An Intimate Life of Thomas Jefferson (1969); FAWN M. BRODIE, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History (1974), developing the thesis that Jefferson's slave Sally Hemings was his mistress; VIRGINIUS DABNEY, The Jefferson Scandals: A Rebuttal (1981, reissued 1991), which argues against Brodie; NOBLE E. CUNNINGHAM, JR., In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson (1987); WILLARD STERNE RANDALL, Thomas Jefferson: A Life (1993), paying particular attention to his life and career prior to 1790; ANDREW BURSTEIN, The Inner Jefferson: Portrait of a Grieving Optimist (1995), with emphasis on his correspondence; and EDWIN S. GAUSTAD, Sworn on the Altar of God: A Religious Biography of Thomas Jefferson (1996). JACK McLAUGHLIN, Jefferson and Monticello: The Biography of a Builder (1988), offers an account not only of the construction of Monticello but also of the daily life of those who lived and visited there.

Monographs that examine Jefferson's administration are FORREST McDONALD, The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson (1976); ROBERT M. JOHNSTONE, JR., Jefferson and the Presidency: Leadership in the Young Republic (1978); and NOBLE E. CUNNINGHAM, JR., The Process of Government Under Jefferson (1978). Foreign policy and American expansion are discussed in BURTON SPIVAK, Jefferson's English Crisis: Commerce, Embargo, and the Republican Revolution (1979); LAWRENCE S. KAPLAN, Jefferson and France: An Essay on Politics and Political Ideas (1967, reprinted 1980), and Entangling Alliances with None: American Foreign Policy in the Age of Jefferson (1987), a collection of essays written over a 25-year period; GEORGE DARGO, Jefferson's Louisiana: Politics and the Clash of Legal Traditions (1975); DONALD JACKSON, Thomas Jefferson & the Stony Mountains: Exploring the West from Monticello (1981, reissued 1993); and ROBERT W. TUCKER and DAVID C. HENDRICKSON, Empire of Liberty: The Statecraft of Thomas Jefferson (1990). GEORGE GREEN SHACKELFORD, Thomas Jefferson's Travels in Europe, 1784-1789 (1995), deals with the period prior to his presidency when he was minister to the French government.

Jefferson as an artist emerges in HELEN CRIPE, Thomas Jefferson and Music (1974); and WILLIAM HOWARD ADAMS (ed.), Jefferson and the Arts: An Extended View (1976). SILVIO A. BEDINI, Thomas Jefferson: Statesman of Science (1990); and I. BERNARD COHEN, Science and the Founding Fathers (1995), explore Jefferson's interest in science. Jefferson's philosophy and its relation to intellectual life in his era are examined in DANIEL J. BOORSTIN, The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson (1948, reissued with a new preface, 1993). LALLY WEYMOUTH (ed.), Thomas Jefferson: The Man, His World, His Influence (1973), presents a collection of essays dealing with his many varied interests.

Jefferson's attitudes toward race and slavery are analyzed in ERIK H. ERIKSON, Dimensions of a New Identity (1974), an exploration of Jefferson's opposition to slavery as a characteristic of American identity; DAVID BRION DAVIS, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823 (1975); and JOHN CHESTER MILLER, The Wolf by the Ears: Thomas Jefferson and Slavery (1977, reissued 1991), an examination of contradictions in Jefferson's approach to slavery that also disputes Brodie's biography. Jefferson's views on American Indians are covered in FREDERICK M. BINDER, The Color Problem in Early National America as Viewed by John Adams, Jefferson, and Jackson (1969).

Interpretive studies include RICHARD E. ELLIS, The Jeffersonian Crisis: Courts and Politics in the Young Republic (1971); GARRY WILLS, Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence (1978); JONATHAN DANIELS, Ordeal of Ambition: Jefferson, Hamilton, Burr (1970); and EDMUND S. MORGAN, The Meaning of Independence: John Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson (1976). The influence of Jefferson in America is treated in MERRILL D. PETERSON, The Jefferson Image in the American Mind (1960, reissued 1985). Jefferson's political views are interpreted in RICHARD K. MATTHEWS, The Radical Politics of Thomas Jefferson: A Revisionist View (1984); GARRETT WARD SHELDON, The Political Philosophy of Thomas Jefferson (1991); PETER S. ONUF (ed.), Jeffersonian Legacies (1993), a collection of essays dealing with many aspects of Jefferson's life and career; and DAVID N. MAYER, The Constitutional Thought of Thomas Jefferson (1994).

Jefferson's wife, Mary Wayles Skelton Jefferson, and their daughters are the focus of GORDON LANGLEY HALL, Mr. Jefferson's Ladies (1966). (C.M.K. /Ed.)

토마스 제퍼슨과 연방헌법 〈서강대논문집〉 : 서강대학교, 1986

토마스 제퍼슨의 헌법이론과 헌법운용 〈전북사학〉 10 : 송삼섭, 전북대학교, 1986

제퍼슨과 계몽사상 〈이대사원〉 21 : 이춘란, 이화여자대학교 사학회, 1985

토머스 제퍼슨과 노예제 〈서양사연구〉 5 : 정경희, 서양사연구회 , 1983

토머스 제퍼슨의 Notes on the State of Virginia에 관한 고찰 〈역사학보〉 79 : 이춘란, 역사학회, 1978

토마스 제퍼슨의 민주사상 〈연세대논문집〉 : 이은영, 연세대학교, 1975

제퍼슨의 제1차 대통령취임연설에 나타난 정치관 〈숙대사론〉 7 : 이정자, 숙명여자대학교, 1972

   

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