Thomas Jefferson was the third President of the United States. He was also the second Vice President. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, founded what came to be the Democratic Party, and established the University of Virginia. He played a major part in shaping the theory and practice of government of the new nation. As President, Jefferson was a strong and generally effective leader. During his two terms, he more than doubled the size of the country, through the Louisiana Purchase, and kept the nation from involvement in the Napoleonic Wars despite both British and French violations of America’s neutrality (Cunningham, 2001).
Thesis Statement: The purpose of this study is to deeply compare and contrast Thomas Jefferson’s political achievements and political skill of the greatest presidents of the USA and identify what characteristics he possessed that allowed him to achieve greatness. Thus, this also compares great presidents with failed ones and knows about the characteristics contributed to the greatness or failure of a president. II. Discussion A. Thomas Jefferson and other US great presidents a. Political achievements and political skills
Jefferson had varied interests; he came close to the Renaissance ideal of the universal man. Although his most important achievements were in government and politics, he was also successful as a lawyer, farmer, writer, architect, scientist, musician, and inventor. He was internationally known as a patron of the arts and learning. His extensive private library was sold to the federal government after the British burned Washington, D. C, in 1814, and was the nucleus for the Library of Congress. He not only founded the University of Virginia, but also designed its buildings and shaped its educational program.
He also was the architect of the Virginia state capitol, Ash Lawn (James Monroe’s home), and Monticello (his own home). While president of the American Philosophical Society (1979-1815), Jefferson presented several papers that revealed his knowledge of various branches of science. His inventiveness was demonstrated at Monticello, where there were a variety of mechanical contrivances unusual or unique at the time. In addition, Jefferson was a justice of the peace and a church vestryman before he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1769.
In 1770, he was given command of the Albemarle County militia. He continued to be elected to the House of Burgesses until it ceased to function in 1775, though he did not attend its sessions in 1772 (Dabney, 2001). In 1773, he was appointed surveyor of Albemarle County. While in the House of Burgesses he allied himself with Patrick Henry, who was spokesman for a progressive group opposed to the aristocracy. As one of the militant anti-British group, Jefferson helped to organize the Virginia Committee of Correspondence and was one of its 11 members.
Illness prevented his attending the Virginia Convention in 1774, but he contributed a paper called “A Summary View of the Rights of British America. ” This ranks next to the Declaration of Independence as a literary document of the American Revolution. It established Jefferson as an intellectual leader of the revolutionary forces. In 1775, the Virginia Convention named Jefferson as an alternate for Peyton Randolph in the Continental Congress. While in attendance, he was made one of the committee charged with drafting a declaration of independence. He was chosen to write it.
In 1776, Jefferson gave up his seat in Congress to serve in the Virginia legislature. While there, 1776-79, he introduced 126 bills, at least 100 of which were enacted. One abolished primogeniture (the exclusive right of inheritance belonging to the eldest son) and led to the break-up of the large estates of the aristocracy. Also passed were laws to make it easier for immigrants to become citizens and to guarantee religious toleration. Jefferson considered the Statute for Religious Freedom, written before 1779 but not enacted until 1786, one of his most important separation of church and state (Johnstone, 2000).
Jefferson was elected governor of Virginia in 1779 and reelected in 1780. He was not equal to the task of governing during wartime, partly because he refused to take emergency action of doubtful legality. In his second term, the British overran most of the state and, Jefferson himself barely escaped capture. He refused to serve a third term—even though elected by the legislature—and when his second term expired, Jefferson simply left office (“resigned,” he later said) rather than continue until a new governor could be chosen.
Jefferson served in the national Congress for five months during 1783, and was active in almost every important committee there. Among the 31 state papers he drafted was one advocating the decimal system for money. Another was a land ordinance that dealt with western expansion. Many of its features were incorporated in the Northwest Ordinance in 1787. Furthermore, Jefferson was the first President to be inaugurated in Washington, D. C. Although the federalists believed he would take reprisals for their heated campaigns, Jefferson used great restraint in removing officeholders for purely political considerations.
His policies of moderation and tolerance and his pragmatism in office allowed a smooth transition from Federalist to republican administration (Peterson, 2000). The most important event of Jefferson’s generally tranquil first administration was the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, which doubled the area of the United States. To authorize this acquisition, Jefferson had to go against his own principles by giving a broad interpretation of the Constitution, but he felt the purchase was necessary to control the vital Mississippi River.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore the West had already been authorized by Congress, but did not actually get under way until 1804, after the purchase had been effected. Continued trouble with Barbary pirates who preyed upon United States shipping caused Jefferson to blockade the port of Tripoli in 1801. For a similar reason, he later threatened the sultan of Morocco with naval action. Moreover, there are other great presidents who served in the United States. These are: Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was a complex man, with a unique combination of contrasting qualities.
He was humble, yet confident in his own superior abilities. He was compassionate, yet firm. He was wryly humorous, but also often broodingly melancholy. Above all Lincoln possessed intelligence, infinite patience, and resolute determination—qualities that enabled him to prevail in the struggle for the survival of the American nation (Brandt, 2002). Since his death, Lincoln has become a folk her, the “Honest Abe,” “Father Abraham,” “Great Emancipator,” and “Martyr President” of legend. Succeeding generations throughout the world have come to revere him as a symbol of national unity, democracy, and emancipation.
In 1846, Lincoln was the Whig candidate for the U. S. House of Representatives. He opposed Democrat Peter Cartwright, a circuit-riding Methodist preacher. Lincoln’s victor by more than 1,500 votes over his better-known opponent was a significant personal triumph. He had the further distinction of being the only Whig congressman from Illinois. Lincoln took his seat in the House on December 6, 1847. His term in Congress was, for the most part, unspectacular. He did, however, take a stand in opposition to the generally popular Mexican War, incurring the disfavor of his constituents.
On the slavery question, he voted several times for the Wilmot Proviso, which would have prohibited slavery in territory purchased from Mexico. In January, 1849, Lincoln placed before the House of resolution proposing gradual abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. He did not introduce a bill to this effect, however, foreseeing no chance of its passage (Oates, 2004). John F. Kennedy. Kennedy brought vigor, intelligence, and wit to the Presidency—a combination later referred to as the “Kennedy style.
” During the New Frontier, as his administration was called, the first American was sent into space, the nation began a period of unprecedented economic prosperity, the government committed itself to the cause of civil rights, and efforts were made to improve Soviet-American relations. Under the guidance of Jacqueline Kennedy, the youngest and most elegant First lady of modern times (Martin, 83-87) special attention was given to the arts, and an extensive redecoration of the White House was undertaken (Hurt, 2004).
President Kennedy had begun to make progress in gaining adoption of his domestic and foreign policies, although much of his program remained unfinished when he was killed by an assassin after serving 2 years and 10 months. On the other hand, if there are great leaders; there are also leaders who failed to lead the country effectively. These are: Ronald Wilson Reagan. During his two terms, Reagan reduced the growth of state aid to education. He also revamped the state’s finances (Schoenwald, 2006), eliminating the deficit that existed when he was elected.
However, he was unable to keep his pledge to cut state spending, and he increased taxes. In January, 1982, in his first State of the Union message, Reagan proposed a sweeping transfer of social programs from the federal government to the states, a plan he called the “New Federalism. ” Before such proposals could be implemented, however, his administration was force to turn its attention to a worsening economic situation (Pemberton, 1998). Although inflation had begun to be reduced, interest rates remained high and the nation plunged into a recession.
In 1982 the unemployment rate reached 10 percent, and it was anticipated that federal budget deficits in the immediate future would be in the $100- to $200-billion-a-year range. Jimmy Carter. During his first two years in office, Carter was able tog gain Congressional enactment of some of his proposals, including creation of the Department of Energy (1977), and to win Senate approval of a new Panama Canal treaty (1978). However, by mid-term he found himself in political difficulty, partly as a result of his inexperience with the federal government.
Much of his legislative program has stalled in Congress, the inflation rate had continued to increase, and there were gasoline shortages and spiraling prices (Abernathy ET. Al 1998). Three initiatives in foreign policy—negotiation of a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt in 1978, normalization of relations with the People’s republic of China in 1979, and signing of a strategic-arms limitation treaty (SALT II) with the Soviet Union, also in 1979—failed to improve Carter’s standing in public opinion polls, which had dropped sharply.
He had a temporary surge of approval late in 1979 when the nation rallied around the President following the seizure of American embassy personnel in Tehran. While most people admired Carter’s personal integrity and his conscientiousness, many found his policies inconsistent and his leadership indecisive (Bloodworth, 2006). III. Conclusion As a conclusion, President Thomas Jefferson has exuded different and impressive leadership style. Though there many obstacles and testing during his administration yet he was able to manage it and be successful.
Not for Jefferson alone but as well as with the other great leaders. In spite of what they have been through, those presidents (great and “awful”) have each own way and strategies on how to make them on the top but some of them tend not to handle the call effectively. All of them have strong personalities that can outwit odds which make them better and admirable leaders. Although they have flaws and lapses as leaders but they are able to manage it for the benefit of the country and its people.
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Kennedy, pp. 13-14 (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 2004). Johnstone, R. M. Jefferson and the Presidency: Leadership on the Young Republic (Cornell University, 2000). Oates, S. B. (2004). Abraham Lincoln: the Man behind the Myths (Harper & Row). Pemberton, William E. (1998). Exit with Honor: The Life and Presidency of Ronald Reagan. M. E. Sharpe. Armonk, NY. Peterson, M. D. Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation: a Biography (Oxford University, 2000). Schoenwald, Jonathan M. (2006). Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s. The Historian, Vol. 68.Sample Essay of BuyEssay.org