Essay, Research Paper
Similarities and Differences of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington In this essay I will compare and contrast two Americans from the history era of 1607 1876. The two that I have chosen are Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. First, I will be going over a brief overview of each person so that you can get a feel on who they are. Second, I will be discussing the similarities and differences of their early life, revolution era, their presidency. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), was the 3rd president of the United States. As the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, he is probably the most conspicuous champion of political and spiritual freedom in his country’s history. He voiced the aspirations of the new nation in matchless phrase, and one may doubt if any other American has been so often quoted. As a public official–legislator, diplomat, and executive–he served the province and commonwealth of Virginia and the young American republic almost 40 years.(Peterson, Merrill D 1970) George Washington (1732-1799), 1st president of the United States. When Washington retired from public life in 1797, his homeland was vastly different from what it had been when he entered public service in 1749. To each of the principal changes he had made an outstanding contribution. Largely because of his leadership the Thirteen Colonies had become the United States, a sovereign, independent nation. (Allden, John R. 1984) Their early life was somewhat close but different in specific ways. Jefferson was well educated. In small private schools, notably that of James Maury, he was thoroughly grounded in the classics. He attended the College of William and Mary–completing the course in 1762–where Dr. William Small taught him mathematics and introduced him to science. He associated intimately with the liberal-minded Lt. Gov. Francis Fauquier, and read law (1762-1767) with George Wythe, the greatest law teacher of his generation in Virginia. Jefferson became unusually Learned in the law. He was admitted to the bar in 1767 and practiced until 1774, when the American Revolution closed the courts. He was a successful lawyer, though his professional income was only a supplement. (Randall, Henry S. 1972) On the other hand George’s early life little is known. His formal education was slight. He soon revealed a skill in mathematics and surveying so marked as to suggest a gift for practical affairs akin to youthful genius in the arts. Men, plantation life, and the haunts of river, field, and forest were his principal teachers. From 1735 to 1738, Augustine lived at “Little Hunting Creek” (later Mount Vernon). In 1738 he moved to Ferry Farm opposite Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock River. Augustine died when George was 11, leaving several farms. Lawrence, George’s half brother, inherited Mount Vernon, where he built the central part of the now famous mansion. Another half brother, Augustine, received Wakefield. Ferry Farm went to George’s mother, and it would pass to George after her death. Both men were very bright and talented in the aspect of how quick they could learn. Though Jefferson had much more schooling and Washington had to struggle a bit, both came out on top. Washington had to more work for his wealth, where Jefferson mostly inherited land and popularity making it easier for him to succeed in life. In the revolutionary era, both men were looked upon as leaders and had highly notable contributions to this era. Jefferson as being noted for his political actions and Washington noted from his leadership in war. Jefferson’s most notable services were connected with the adoption of the decimal system of coinage, which later as secretary of state he tried vainly to extend to weights and measures, and with the Ordinance of 1784. Though not adopted, the latter foreshadowed many features of the famous Ordinance of 1787, which established the Northwest Territory. Jefferson went so far as to advocate the prohibition of slavery in all the territories. On the other hand, Washington’s military record during the revolution is highly creditable. His first success came on March 17, 1776, when the British evacuated Boston. He had kept them surrounded and immobilized during a siege of more than eight months. He had organized a first American army and had recruited and trained a second. His little fleet had distressed the British
by intercepting their supplies. Lack of powder and cannon long kept him from attacking. Once they had been procured, he occupied, on March 4-5, 1776, a strong position on Dorchester Heights, Mass., where he could threaten to bombard the British camp. The evacuation made him a hero by proving that the Americans could overcome the British in a major contest. For five months thereafter the American cause was brightened by the glow of this outstanding victory–a perilous time when confidence was needed to sustain morale. (Higginbotham, Don 1985) There presidency is a very big similarity, as both been served as Presidents for the United States of America. Washington was elected the first as the first president. His qualifications for his task could hardly have been better. For 15 years he had contended with most of the problems that faced the infant government. By direct contact he had come to know the leaders who were to play important parts during his presidency. Having traveled widely over the country, he had become well acquainted with its economic conditions and practices. Experience had schooled him in the arts of diplomacy. He had listened closely to the debates on the Constitution and had gained a full knowledge both of its provisions and of the ideas and interests of representative leaders. He had worked out a successful method for dealing with other men and with Congress and the states. Thanks to his innumerable contacts with the soldiers of the Revolutionary army, he understood the character of the American people and knew their ways. For eight years after 1775 he had been a de facto president. The success of his work in founding a new government was a by-product of the qualifications he had acquired in the hard school of public service. Jefferson was elected the 3rd president of the United States. Jefferson’s victory over John Adams in the presidential election of 1800 can be partially explained by the dissension among the Federalists, but the policies of the government were unpopular, and as a party the Federalists were now much less representative of the country than were the Republicans. Jefferson’s own title to the presidency was not established for some weeks, because he was accidentally tied with his running mate, Aaron BURR, under the workings of the original electoral system. The election was thrown into the House of Representatives, where the Federalists voted for Burr through many indecisive ballots. Finally, enough of them abstained to permit the obvious will of the majority to be carried out. (Honeywell, Roy J. 1931) Both men served 2 terms in office as President. Though Washington was reelected unanimously in 1792. His decision not to seek a third term established a tradition that has been broken only once and is now embedded in the 22d Amendment of the Constitution. In his Farewell Address of Sept. 17, 1796, he summarized the results of his varied experience, offering a guide both for that time and for the future. He urged his countrymen to cherish the Union, to support the public credit, to be alert to “the insidious wiles of foreign influence,” to respect the Constitution and the nation’s laws, to abide by the results of elections, and to eschew political parties of a sectional cast. In conclusion, we have gone over a brief description of Jefferson and Washington. We talked about their early life, their part in the revolutionary era and their stance in presidency. Both men had many more contributions to United States and are similar and different in many other aspects. Though we could only look at a few sections in their life. Bibliography Boorstin, Daniel J., The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson (1948; reprint, Univ. of Chicago Press 1981). Commager, Henry Steele, Jefferson, Nationalism, and the Enlightenment (Braziller 1975). Honeywell, Roy J. The Educational Work of Thomas Jefferson (Harvard Univ. Press 1931). Lehmann, Karl, Thomas Jefferson: American Humanist (1947; reprint, Univ. Press of Va. 1985). Peterson, Merrill D., Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation: A Biography (Oxford 1970). Randall, Henry S., Life of Thomas Jefferson, 3 vols. (1858; reprint, Da Capo 1972). Allden, John R., George Washington: A Biography (La. State Univ. Press 1984). Fitzgerald, John C., George Washington Himself (1933; reprint, Greenwood Press 1975). Ford, Paul L., The True George Washington (1896; reprint, Arden Library 1981). Higginbotham, Don, George Washington and the American Military Tradition (Univ. of Ga. Press 1985). Irving, Washington, Life of George Washington, 5 vols. (1883; reprint, Darby Bks. 1983). How sources contributed to my essay I found many books on both Jefferson and Washington. These books gave me more information then I ever needed. I looked for main parts in the books that showed similar values and sections in the their life that seemed more important, but mostly easier to describe and talk about.