History is the greatest teacher and source of inspiration. Our country, the United States of America, is home to the greatest legendary heroes and scholars who have forged the shape of the today’s world. Former President, J. F. Kennedy, when he “welcomed Nobel Prize winners into the White House in 1962, he out rightly admitted that he was obliged to share the room with the world’s greatest sources of knowledge with the exception of one, Thomas Jefferson”.
Thomas Jefferson was a former President, Politician, Architect, archeologist, paleontologist, musician, inventor, revolutionist and scholar. If I were given the humble chance to travel back in time and get a chance to interview Thomas Jefferson I would ask him the following questions:
What is your own opinion what do you have to say about banking establishments and the role they play in their environment?
As a politician and the president of United States of America, which has just gained independence which elements do you intend to enshrine in the domestic policy?
Following the hot debate and conflicts involving the thorny issue of slave trade, do you consider yourself as a crusader for or against slave trade?
As The United States of America tries to establish itself as a giant nation in the world what are the various foreign policies you are putting in place to govern the relationship between The United States of America and other countries?
What is your take on the majority rule and what way should the minorities take to redress any wrongs done on them?
What are your take on education and its importance on the advancement of United States into one of the strongest countries in the world?
In 1816, Jefferson noted “banking establishments were more dangerous than standing armies and therefore if necessary that such institutions be properly controlled.” Thomas Jefferson was against most banking institutions and their famous discounting techniques which allowed people to spend money which they have not earned at the price of jargons called interest rates.
He thought that banks and their aggressive search for money would swindle the children of America who would wake up homeless one day in the land that belonged to their fore fathers. For instance, from his personal experience, he got into a lot of debt and hard to mortgage his property and slaves.
He believed that such institutions would be used by hereditary aristocrats to further their ambitions at the expense of the citizens. Although Thomas Jefferson tried to lobby policy makers to accept his line of reasoning but they refused only to regret later in 1812 when a financial chaos was formed as a result of war.
He would in turn be very categorical and blame the current financial institutions such as the Wall Street and credit card institutions which have handed massive debt to the citizens of America. It is this debt and their discounting techniques which have ended up leaving Americans with no cash money in their pockets leading to shortage of funds and unemployment.
This is because he thought that banks snatched wealth/power from the people and concentrated the wealth/power between a few people. Therefore he would consequently blame the current financial downfall on the banking and financial system.
Jefferson’s domestic policy was aimed at liberty and freedom. He believed that America should not enter into any association with any country that hindered the rights and liberty of the American people. He believed in republicanism and American exceptionalism. The term republicanism argued that the country and nation belonged to its citizens.
No man and woman should therefore have his/her rights violated since they are enshrined in the declaration of independence. Having championed for the release of slaves with no success, and was the first president who came up with a formal Indian removal plan that was considered humane.
In a letter to one of his friends Samuel Ker cheval, Thomas Jefferson insisted that the foundation of the republican governance was to secure equal rights for all American citizens are it in person or property. Arguably, Thomas Jefferson was a defender of civil liberties.
He further went a step to oppose the principles of hereditary aristocracy that would go ahead to form a big gap between the rich and poor. IT is these same hereditary arrangements that would aggrandize opportunities for a given sect of people and kill the spirit upon which the country was founded on.
As far as the issue of human rights and slavery is concerned, Thomas Jefferson would advocate for human right s and ensure that all human beings should enjoy the liberty and freedom of the land. Thomas Jefferson did not advocate for slave trade he in fact educated and trained all his slaves with exemplary educational and literary skills.
Although Thomas Jefferson had many plantations of slaves he often admitted that slavery was a shame and many a times tried do fight the institution of slave trade. In fact in 1907 he went ahead to sign a bill banning importation of slaves into the United States of America. In his notes on the state of Virginia he attacked slavery and thought that it was duty of the state and society to release slaves.
In fact in the first draft of the declaration of independence he condemned British slave trade and violation of distant people human rights who did not offend her.
Unfortunately this was dropped from the final draft of the declaration of independence. It is therefore clear that Thomas Jefferson was opposed to slavery and slave trade. Therefore it is right to say Jefferson found slavery not to be right and this is why he treated them with dignity and even went ahead to right and publish books on slavery, acting as a voice for the rights of this people who were slaves.
As far as foreign policy was concerned Thomas Jefferson was a famous fan of international trade but was strongly opposed to country alliances he was once quoted in 1779 saying “Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto.”
This is why he was considered to be a strong republican and therefore a champion for republicanism calling for Americans to love their country and that the citizens be the people who decide who should govern them. It will be true to derive that this was America’s foreign policy. Thomas Jefferson wanted to maintain America’s freedom and liberty and not involve himself with European wars and disputes.
His overall foreign policy was friendship peace and prosperity for all nations of the world. He thought that America’s national security would be compromised by meddling in other peoples affairs. Which is consequently true to date many Americans are being kidnapped and the American government is often asked to release foreign political prisoners or even withdraw troops from certain areas.
Thomas Jefferson believed that it was better to make no treaty than make a bad one; he was opposed to treaties that called for power sharing and preferred peacemaking treaties that lead to stability and peace of nations and regions. Therefore America struggled to separate its systems from European systems.
Thomas Jefferson said to Benjamin Waring (in 1801) “The will of the people… is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.”. Thomas Jefferson believed that for decisions to be made and a country to be ran smoothly than the will of the majority must prevail, therefore incase a minority decision that was to be imposed on the majority would be considered an evil.
In this case Thomas Jefferson knew the dangers that could arise out of entrenchment by malicious individuals who would want to impose their opinions on other citizens of the republic. This goes ahead to support that Jefferson was among the first supporters of democracy. He also went ahead to advice those who were minorities and felt deprived of certain rights by the majority should search for good avenues to redress their plight.
As far as education was concerned Thomas Jefferson led from the front. He was a polymath who had ability to tackle many disciplines ranging from mathematics to arts. He even made sure that he educated his slaves in reading and writing and also other technical skills.
He is considered the father of the University of Virginia where he made an elaborate plan of seeing able students through university. He tabled a bill in 1817 that intended to unearth talent that was buried in poverty; he believed that by doing this the number of educated brains would triple output in the United States of Americas compared to other countries.
The bill further supposed that there be a school within every county and district collages near every locality plus a good university system. Being amongst the greatest scholars who have ever lived in this planet it is clear that Thomas Jefferson took education seriously and understood its importance in developing the nation and spreading his spirit of republicanism which aimed at improving the lives of every citizen.
Bernstein, Richard. Thomas Jefferson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Holmes, Jerry. Thomas Jefferson: a chronology of his thoughts. Boston: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.
Jefferson, Thomas. Thomas Jefferson: His Words and Vision. New York, Peter Pauper Press, 1998.
Reynolds, David. Empire of Liberty: A New History. London: Penguin America, 2010.
Schama, Simon. The American Future: A History from The Founding Fathers To Barack Obama. New York, NY: Vintage, 2009.
Richard Bernstein, Thomas Jefferson (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 6.
Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson: His Words and Vision (New York, Peter Pauper Press, 1998), 78.
Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson: His Words and Vision (New York, Peter Pauper Press, 1998), 46.
Jerry Holmes, Thomas Jefferson: a chronology of his thoughts (Boston: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), 58.
David Reynolds, Empire of Liberty: A New History (London: Penguin America, 2010), 104.
Simon Schama, The American Future: A History from The Founding Fathers To Barack Obama (New York, NY: Vintage, 2009), 141.