Thomas Jefferson: Great American President


November 2, 2003


A.P. U.S. History


5th Hour





Thomas Jefferson’s presidential election in 1800 in know today as the revolution of 1800; for it marked the first peaceful change of political ideals in a democratic nation. To day a change between political ideals is very common, but it took a lot to lead a young nation through a change such as this without blood shed. As the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson\'s accomplishments and leadership ability virtually changed the course of history. His foreign affairs changed United States relations with other countries, his domestic affairs changed the focus of American ideals, and his decisions changed the presidential office. Jefferson changed the entire face of a nation during his presidency.


In December 1807 an Embargo Act, which forbade American Ships to sail to any European port, was put into effect. However, Jefferson greatly underestimated the negative effect the embargo would have on the United States’ economy. In fact the reaction to the act was so negative that in March 1809 Jefferson had the Embargo Act repealed. Despite the deleterious effect of the Embargo Jefferson managed to balance it out with the Louisiana Purchase and a victorious war in Africa.. The huge territory of Louisiana, stretching from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, was claimed as a possession by France in 1682. Jefferson sent James Monroe to help Robert R. Livingston negotiate the purchase of New Orleans. Congress appropriated $2 million for the purchase. In April 1803, however, Napoleon I stated that he was willing to sell not only New Orleans, but the whole of Louisiana as well. The entire state of Louisiana was sold to the United States for 15 million dollars. In 1801 the ruler of Tripoli demanded tribute money beyond the amount fixed by treaty. When Jefferson refused the demand, war ensued. The war ended in 1805, and the payment of tribute to Tripoli came to an end. The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States, but it and the war in North Africa, also greatly increased the country’ s national debt.


In order to get control of the newly consumed debt President Jefferson reversed some Federalist programs. Both he and his secretary of the treasury, Albert Gallatin, felt that a national debt was undesirable. By cutting certain appropriations, especially for the army and navy, they balanced the budget and reduced the debt. Jefferson also made a Republican campaign promise to repeal internal duties. This was greeted with approval in the West, where in 1794, Washington had to use force to collect a hated excise tax on whiskey. However, Jefferson\'s policy toward Native Americans reflected less his humanitarian instincts than it did his understanding of the needs of the settlers on the expanding western frontier. Through Jefferson\'s efforts, 50 million acres of land were bought from the Native Americans for $142,000. In January 1803, half a year before the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson proposed his idea of a western expedition to Congress. In 1806 Lewis and Clark returned with their valuable journals. They had successfully breached the mountain barrier of the West, built a fort on the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia River, and mapped and explored much of the American Northwest. Thomas Jefferson gave birth to Western Expansion.


Jefferson was the first president to abide by Washington’s two‑term limit, and was really the individual who put it into effect. Unwilling to see the presidency become "an inheritance," he declined his presidential nomination in 1808. He wanted, he said, to follow "the sound precedent set by an illustrious predecessor," George Washington. Jefferson also established some other traditions during his presidency. One of the most influential was the his refusal to address congress, this tradition was carried on through every presidency until 1917. However, the most significant part of Thomas Jefferson’s presidency was the way he democratized the presidency. Thomas Jefferson was determined to keep the office as anti‑monarchy as possible. He didn’t arrive at his inaugural ceremony in a elegant carriage, was most people would have expected, he walked to it instead. Jefferson also insisted on pell‑mell seating instead of assigned seating at state dinners, because he didn’t want to rank