Thomas Jefferson is regarded as one of the most influential people in the formation of the new republic. Meanwhile, his figure is regarded as a controversial one with big achievements and significant shortcomings as shown in Burn’s documentary Thomas Jefferson released in 1997. In this discussion board post, I will cover his three noticeable contributions to the development of the United States of America and point out his two notable mistakes that affected the whole nation.
The first thing to be mentioned regarding Jefferson’s achievements is The United States Declaration of Independence, ratified on the 4th of July in 1776. According to Jenkinson, the historian from Burn’s video “Jefferson wrote some of the most important truths about culture, freedom, and civilization’ and ‘found the language to express the greatest aspirations the humanity has” (Burns, 1997, 00.09.15-00.11.20). The second achievement of Jefferson is that he wrote The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (Matthews, 2021). Third, he established the University of Virginia developing it from its design to the curriculum. Meanwhile, Jefferson nearly doubled the size of the US and abolished the slave trade, and these acts must be also regarded as his main achievements.
Being a controversial figure, Jefferson made several significant mistakes in the building of the new republic. First, he proclaimed himself as a freedom-oriented person, but his attitude to slavery was ambiguous. As Jenkinson claims, «as a young man Jefferson was denounced for his. emancipation views” (Burns, 1997, 00.25.17-00.26.00). According to Burns (1997), Jefferson was the second-largest slaveholder and never tried to make people equal. Second, with The Embargo Act of 1807, he prohibited American ships from trading in all foreign ports with significant economic consequences for the country. As an ambiguous personality, Jefferson made significant contributions to the development of the United States of America, but with his power and responsibility, he made decisions that impacted the whole nation.
Burns, K. (1997). Thomas Jefferson [Film]. Florentine Films.
Matthews, R. (2021). Thomas Jefferson: A modern Prometheus. Journal of American History, 107(1), 996–996.