(1.) THOMAS JEFFERSON (1743-1826)
“The Sage of Monticello”
Defeated by John Adams, 1796
Although we are concerning ourselves here with the losers, there is a paradox in their close association throughout the American struggle for freedom and building an effective government for our infant republic, in that Jefferson’s and Adams’ lives can hardly be viewed separately. Jefferson later attained the presidency by narrowly defeating Adams and Aaron Burr, and he served two terms.
Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Adams eloquently presented it to the world. Jefferson in the meantime filled a diplomatic post in Europe.
Jefferson was a staunch states rights man. Adams was second only to Alexander Hamilton as a Federalist leader; in fact, friction between Jefferson and Hamilton in Washington’s cabinet had previously caused Jefferson’s resignation.
Jefferson’s highly principled administrative actions were not always successful, but his foresight and daring in purchasing the great Louisiana Territory from France gave America her timely opportunity to develop into a great nation.
Much of Jefferson’s time was devoted to schools, and his architectural talent and inventive genius are evidenced in the buildings he designed for the University of Virginia and at Monticello, the estate to which he retired on leaving office.