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Thomas Jefferson: The art of power (part 2)

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Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power


After Jefferson became the third president of the United States, the nation took on a huge growth spurt. Jefferson had read a book about the west written by a Canadian explorer and was intrigued with the possibilities of manifest destiny. Since Jefferson had been minister to France, he was able to understand the French psyche, and persuaded Napoleon, whose country was in conflict with the British and Spain, to sell the territory of the Louisiana Purchase for $15 million (3 cents an acre).

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Jefferson was also struggling to keep the domestic politics as smooth as possible because he had gone through a decidedly contentious election fiasco. The Federalists were bound and determined to keep him from striving for the independence that was outlined in the Declaration of Independence. His predecessor, John Adams, proposed the Alien and Sedition Act, which essentially restricted people from coming to the New World and from exercising their free speech in any kind of dissent against the leadership of the free world.

In doing so, Adams wanted to keep closer ties with the British and with their form of governance, and Jefferson was completely opposed to having any ties with British because he feared that they would try to win back power, and indeed they tried to do that in the War of 1812. Jefferson wanted the country to be solely independent of Britain, including commercial trade. His idea was to have all products made in United States, so that both agrarian and industrial gains could be gained and grown in the states.

Living in the presidents house in Washington D.C. was something of an isolating time for Jefferson because his family remained in Monticello and would visit for Christmas and other holidays. His main companion in the house was Meriwether Lewis who later went on the exploration with William Clark.

While living in the president's house, his youngest daughter, Polly, died. Both of his daughters were married and lived near Monticello with their husbands at their estates in Virginia. The Jefferson's had a number of estates in Virginia besides Monticello. One of them was Jefferson's retreat from the busy activity at Monticello; Poplar Forest in Bedford County, Virginia.

The partisanship between the Federalists and the Republicans was contentious, and left the friendship between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson strained. They did correspond with each other during their lives, and by coincidence they both died on the same day, July 4, 1826, Adams in Quincy, Massachusetts and Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. They had exchanged over 300 letters between them, and many of them (160) after they reconciled their friendship after 1812.

Thomas Jefferson is described as being the most diplomatic of men because he was unwilling to get into a heated dispute about anything. It was not considered genteel the get angry for Virginian gentry, and Jefferson went to such extremes that Jon Meacham describes the difference between Jackson and Jefferson in terms of how they expressed their anger. When Andrew Jackson got angry, he shot people, but when Thomas Jefferson got angry, he wrote long letters.

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