Thomas Jefferson and His Views on Government

Thomas Jefferson was born in what is now Albermarle County, Virginia on April 13, 1743. Jefferson was educated at the College of William and Mary and then went on to study law with George Wythe. Thomas Jefferson is most well known for his part in writing the Declaration of Independence and for being our third president. Thomas Jefferson has contributed greatly to the building of our government. He was a truly remarkable man who set forth the basic ideals and beliefs in government that have stayed the same for over two hundred years. In researching Thomas Jefferson I see a man who poetically expressed the fundamental purpose behind government that is, I feel, sometimes overlooked in today's political government and by the media. Thomas Jefferson believed that states could best govern the domestic matters within its state, but a strong Central Government is needed as well to deal with foreign affairs and to keep the country strong as a unified nation. "While smaller governments [states] are better adapted to the ordinary objects of society, larger confederations more effectively secure independence and the preservation of republican government."-Thomas Jefferson to the Rhode Island Assembly, 1801. What Thomas Jefferson was saying in this quote is that small governments like our state and our towns are the ones best fit to deal with the concerns of the people. In turn helping the people live the best and happiest lives possible. Which is the reason we have government. "The first object of human association is the improvement of their condition."-Thomas Jefferson:

Declaration and Protest of Virginia, 1825. To keep people safe and things in order so people can live safe, happy, and fruitful lives. While supporting the idea that small government is best suited to deal with domestic concerns he points out the fact that a large "confederation" is the best way to handle foreign concerns that effect all the smaller governments under the "confederation. Along with foreign affairs is of course national defense that is best controlled by a large central government. Certainly standing together unified a group is stronger than each individual standing alone. Thomas Jefferson believed that as much power as possible should be left to the states but the "confederation" should have power to address foreign matters for the well being of the country.

As well as being a believer in states rights Thomas Jefferson believed that the constitution should be strictly obeyed. "The preservation of the general government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home and safety abroad I deem the essential principles of our government, and consequently those which ought to shape its administration." -Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural Address, 1801. He felt that the government as a whole could not do anything that wasn't put under their responsibilities in the Constitution. In other words Jefferson believed in strict interpretation of the Constitution. This was his belief, but he was forced to go against this belief when it came to the Louisiana Purchase. The right to purchase lands was not given to the president in the Constitution, but Jefferson saw a great opportunity to expand this great nation. He went beyond the Constitution because it was for the benefit of the country and the people.

Thomas Jefferson was one of the founding fathers of this nation. Jefferson strongly believed in a democratic form of government. Where the people could participate and be governed as they see fit. The easiest way to make your point heard is to be governed by a smaller government like our states and towns. The individual has an easier avenue to change their government if it is smaller. This is why Jefferson believed that as many issues as possible should be left up to the states. Jefferson being the great man he was could also see that uniting all the states in one "confederation" would benefit all the states and the people. Through his belief that the government is in place to better the lives of the people over which it rules came his belief that government should not do more than is outlined in the Constitution, in order to keep it in check. The government should know its limits and not intrude on the rights of the people by reaching beyond its limits. Jefferson was! an eloquent advocator of the rights of people and their role in government as well as the government's role in society.