Major Achievements of Thomas Jefferson


Thomas Jefferson requested that on his tombstone he should be remembered for 3 things

1. Author of the Declaration of Independence.

2. Passing the statute of Religious Freedom in Virginia.

3. Founding of the University of Virginia.

These were perhaps his most significant achievements but there were several other achievements as well.
Firstly the declaration of Independence was a major achievement because it expressed the highest ideals of the American Revolution. Jefferson didn’t make any claim of originality. Many of the ideas he wrote about were derived from the works of others, in particular Locke’s; The Rights of Man. He also received suggestions from Benjamin Franklin and John Adams. However Jefferson’s achievement was to bring together the best ideas and express them in a memorable, almost mantric style.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. “

The Declaration of Independence has epitomized the American ideals of freedom and democracy more than any other document. In his Gettysburg address of 1863 Abraham Lincoln appealed to the ideals expressed in this document as he urged the nation to fight for the end of slavery.

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

However Jefferson did not have it all his way. He wished to insert a clause that criticised the monarch for the introduction of slavery. But this was taken out at the wish of the slave owning class.

The second major achievement of Jefferson was “The Statute of Religious Freedom” This was a landmark piece of legislation. It is worth remembering that, at the time the idea of religious freedom, was quite revolutionary. Religious minorities frequently experienced suppression and persecution. The bill only passed with great opposition, many saw the bill as an attack on Christianity. This bill cemented the idea of religious freedom in America; giving individuals the right to purse their own spiritual and religious paths. Jefferson was instrumental in creating a separation between State and Religion.

In the last 17 years of Jefferson’s life he designed and was the inspiration behind the University of Virginia. It was his belief that education was linked with personal freedom and a vibrant nation. Only through making education available and accessible to all could individual freedom be made meaningful

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