Paper: A Biography of the Third United States President

In 1789 George Washington appointed Jefferson secretary of state. In that position he became head of the liberal Democratic-Republican faction--as it was then called--and worked against the more conservative Federalist policies of Hamilton, Madison, and Washington. Jefferson resigned as secretary of state at the end of 1793 to devote himself to his estate at Monticello. (There is no denying, either, that he retained about 150 slaves there, selling or "giving" them to others, treating them as property; he could accept this along with his high ideals because he regarded Africans as inferior beings.) In 1796 Jefferson was elected vice-president under Federalist John Adams. After four troubled years in that position (1797--1801), he beat Adams and, barely, Aaron Burr for the presidency, thanks in large part to the fact that his arch rival, Hamilton, supported him when the Electoral College vote was tied. Among the events of his triumphant first term (1801--05) were the successful war against Barbary pirates, the Louisiana Purchase (which more than doubled the size of the U.S.A.), and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. His second term (1805--09), however, was marred by vice-president Burr's trial for treason and Jefferson's highly unpopular embargo on trade with England and France. In 1809 he retired to his estate at Monticello, continuing his scholarly and scientific interests and helping to found the University of Virginia (1825). The campus he designed for the latter, the masterpiece of his periodic architectural endeavors, ushered in the Classical Revival in the United States; he also designed the Virginia state capitol and several fine homes. In 1813 he began what became an extended and remarkable exchange of letters with his old political adversary, John Adams; both died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence....