One of the founders of the United States and the third president of this country, Thomas Jefferson appears liberal activist being concerned about the human existence during all his life. Thomas Jefferson was an outstanding representative of the radical wing of the Enlightenment of the 18th century. Expressing the interests of farmers and petty bourgeoisie, he pointed to the needs for the democratic solution to the agrarian question, the abolition of slavery, providing political rights for all people. Considering Grant’s definition of a hero as a man, Jefferson can be viewed as a hero due to his life transformations, successes, and contributions to the American people and society.
Grant defines a hero as “someone who does something for other people” (Gaines). Jefferson is a great example of such a man. Gaines shows that individual changes and decisions may contribute to the modifications of the society. In Gaines’s book, the individual survivals of Jefferson and Grant Wiggins depend on mutual support. Grant narrates Jefferson’s story. The latter tells only its 29th chapter finally becoming able to report the story in his own manner. The fate of Grant is strongly bound to the life of Jefferson (Gaines). Unlike traditional hero who used to thrive on the total independence, Grant could be a hero just through the interaction with Jefferson. This emphasizes the perspective, in which individuals’ needs vary in the accordance to community’s needs. Grant’s hate to the whites, arrogance, and separation from the black community limit his heroism. Being an educated man, this individual considers himself superior to Jefferson.
Instead of contributing to the community, Grant’s education taught him to contemn people. As a result, he does not inspire but humiliates his students. Therefore, instead of applying talent and skills to breaking the cycle of violence and poverty, Grant immortalizes it being unable to bid defiance to the system (Gaines). Unlike Jefferson, he had a number of opportunities to change the life and become a real hero but failed to do this. He does not control his own life and is not able to challenge the system, which made him a mental slave. Grants’ desires are limited to reaching freedom without taking responsibility. Despite he decides to teach Jefferson how to become a man, Grant puts himself in a superior social class (Gaines). It is worthy to note that unlike Grant, Jefferson was uneducated. He worked hard during all his life.
Since youth, Jefferson started to shape his character using diligence and studiousness, which made him a true hero in the future. Being a student, Jefferson studied with enthusiasm. Even in the days free of lectures, he strictly observed his own schedule. Books, which have formed the humanistic outlook of Thomas Jefferson, did not distract him from reality. On the contrary, a young landowner, a future lawyer, and a real hero of American history sought practical values in those books. Studying the laws of nature, he found their analogues in social development as well as managed to observe their complexity and inconsistency that led to his deep thought. Under the influence of natural rights’ ideas, the doubts about the true value of the official legitimacy and morality of the social system were growing. In Jefferson’s minds, the protest against grotty phenomena that were observed in the life around him appeared. This process has intensified to the extent that Jefferson ever more clearly felt deep dissatisfaction with the colonial order. His college years’ period coincided with ominous times in American history. At that time, the revolutionary ideology was forming. All this made a great influence on the development of Jefferson’s character, which inevitably resulted in the future of his country.
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Along with sedulity, Jefferson possessed the feature of softness of communication that allowed him to converge with people and win their favor quickly. This trait was combined with the ability to control his feelings. In his speeches, as a lawyer, Thomas preferred thorough argumentation. This became his special feature. He did not overestimate his not brilliant orator skills and knew that one would not be able to hold an audience with his eloquence. However, he found the ability to delve deeply into the matter and separate truth from fiction. These features can be considered as true characteristics of a hero who reaches success in the life and changes lives of the others. Thus, using carefully prepared speeches in court, he gradually got the recognition. The initial period of advocacy included his first performance in court, which contained the idea of the equality of human rights. In his defense speech, Thomas Jefferson exactly said that according to the laws of nature, people were all born free. It is obvious that this idea owned Jefferson’s mind and later became one of the fundamental principles of his political and social activities: “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” (“Declaration of Independence”). This shows the heroism of Jefferson since he wanted to care about other people and contribute to the improvement of their well-being.
Jefferson met the beginning of the revolutionary storms as a large planter, successful lawyer, happy husband and father. However, this was not enough since Thomas worried about the fate of his native land. A new stage of his biography, namely political activity started from taking the place in the Legislative Chamber of the colony as a deputy from Albermal County. He has already developed a number of persuasions to involve in the struggle against the absolute power of England over the colonies immediately. Thomas Jefferson has played a huge role in the American Revolution and the War of Independence. Being a hero of his country, Jefferson aimed his activities specifically at the fight for independence and the formation of the American republic. After the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, in which development Jefferson actively participated, as well as in the first presidential elections where George Washington became a complete winner, a new stage in the biography and political career of Jefferson began. Thomas Jefferson made his decision and expressed an agreement to become the U.S. Secretary of the United States. The participation of Jefferson in the government strengthened the central power that needed political support. Jefferson received an opportunity to affect the nature of power in the direction of creating a stable bourgeois-democratic form of government. He decided to use this opportunity. However, the times of celebration of the revolutionary victories already passed, and the period of registration of the state, the creation of domestic and foreign policy mechanism, and the solution of difficult problems of government was coming. The questions of foreign policy and particularly the American republic relations with European countries occupied the main attention of Jefferson at that time. Unprotected borders demanded skillful maneuvering between the major world powers. The aim of Thomas Jefferson was neutrality. He preferred the trade and non-interference policy in the sphere of European states activities.
Moreover, Jefferson defended the rights of the colonies to self-determination. Thus, he supported the just cause of the struggle against tyranny metropolis restraining the development of the American nation. Year after year, one could observe the evolution of the ideologist of the revolution in more moderate bourgeois-existent politic. Jefferson’s merit consists in the fact that he went on the path of policy of pragmatism less than the other leaders of the American Revolution. He sought to defend the ideas of the Enlightenment, played for more sophisticated state system, and, in this respect, remained faithful to his principles.
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As the president, Jefferson ignored strict ceremonial and formalities, which surrounded his life and work. He was loyal to other ideas and values and recognized them: “Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists” (“Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address”). The ideal government for Jefferson was the one that could keep order and law but “otherwise did not interfere with the rights of the individual” (Balleck 682). He recognized the need for the development of American industry, argued for strict balance between agriculture, industry, commerce, and banks as well as understood the importance of the execution of the balanced budget. Moreover, he “sought to reduce the size of bureaucracy and the military and lower taxes” (Yoo 422). Moving away from the state non-interference in the economy, the president adhered to protectionism instead of the embodiment of the ideas of free trade.
The name of Thomas Jefferson is in the list of the respected and heroic ones for the American people. It stands among the prominent figures of history. His life and work left a deep imprint in the memory of mankind. He came into history as a great statesman and a politician as well as philosopher and humanist, educator, linguist, botanist, geographer, architect, anthropologist, and a paleontologist. Thomas Jefferson was a man whose loyalty to the truth was over false prestige. His contribution to almost all spheres of life and activities of the society as well as the role in the American Revolution and the further U.S. statehood formation process are huge. The life of this outstanding figure can be divided into several stages, each of which has independent significance for his evolution and American history. Thomas Jefferson appears not only a politician, public figure, and statesman but also a strong personality, which qualities deserve universal respect. First of all, dedication and perseverance, the pursuit of achieving started activities and expansion of horizons have allowed Jefferson to reach astonishing results in many fields. Therefore, this man became a true hero having contributed to the development of his country and participating in fate decisions. His life’s aim was to help other people, which is a true example of heroism.