Thomas Jefferson (April 13 [O.S. April 2] 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the third President of the United States (1801–1809). He was a spokesman for democracy and the rights of man with worldwide influence. At the beginning of the American Revolution, he served in the Continental Congress, representing Virginia and then served as a wartime Governor of Virginia (1779–1781). Just after the war ended, from mid-1784 Jefferson served as a diplomat, stationed in Paris. In May 1785, he became the United States Minister to France.
Jefferson was the first United States Secretary of State (1790–1793) serving under President George Washington. In opposition to Alexander Hamilton's Federalism, Jefferson and his close friend, James Madison, organized the Democratic-Republican Party, and subsequently resigned from Washington's cabinet. Elected Vice President in 1796, when he came in second to President John Adams of the Federalists, Jefferson opposed Adams and with Madison secretly wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which attempted to nullify the Alien and Sedition Acts.
The following list of national founding fathers is a record, by country, of men who were credited with establishing their nation. National founders are typically those who played an influential role in setting up the systems of governance, (i.e., political system form of government, and constitution), of the country. They can also be military leaders of a war of independence that led to the existence of the country.
The United States of America (USA), commonly referred to as the United States (US), America, or simply the States, is a federal republic consisting of 50 states, 16 territories, and a federal district. The 48 contiguous states and the federal district of Washington, D.C., are in central North America between Canada and Mexico. The state of Alaska is the northwestern part of North America and the state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific. The country also has five populated and nine unpopulated territories in the Pacific and the Caribbean. The largest of these territories are Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands which are an official part of the United States. At 3.79 million square miles (9.83 million km2) in total and with around 316 million people, the United States is the fourth-largest country by total area and third largest by population. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many countries. The geography and climate of the United States is also extremely diverse, and it is home to a wide variety of wildlife.
Paleo-indians migrated from Asia to what is now the U.S. mainland around 15,000 years ago, with European colonization beginning in the 16th century. The United States emerged from 13 British colonies located along the Atlantic seaboard. Disputes between Great Britain and these colonies led to the American Revolution. On July 4, 1776, delegates from the 13 colonies unanimously issued the Declaration of Independence. The ensuing war ended in 1783 with the recognition of independence of the United States from the Kingdom of Great Britain, and was the first successful war of independence against a European colonial empire. The current Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787. The first 10 amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, were ratified in 1791 and guarantee many fundamental civil rights and freedoms.
The United States is a federal constitutional republic, in which the President of the United States (the head of state and head of government), Congress, and judiciary share powers reserved to the national government, and the federal government shares sovereignty with the state governments.
Republicanism is a political values system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and "unalienable" rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, rejects aristocracy and inherited political power, expects citizens to be independent in their performance of civic duties, and vilifies corruption. American republicanism was founded and first practiced by the Founding Fathers in the 18th century. This system was based on Ancient Greco-Roman, Renaissance, and English models and ideas. It formed the basis for the American Revolution and the consequential Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Constitution (1787), as well as the Gettysburg Address (1863).
Political philosophy is the study of topics such as politics, liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why (or even if) they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it should take and why, what the law is, and what duties citizens owe to a legitimate government, if any, and when it may be legitimately overthrown, if ever. In a vernacular sense, the term "political philosophy" often refers to a general view, or specific ethic, political belief or attitude, about politics that does not necessarily belong to the technical discipline of philosophy. In short, political philosophy is the activity, as with all philosophy, whereby the conceptual apparatus behind such concepts as aforementioned are analyzed, in their history, intent, evolution and the like.
Classical liberalism is a political philosophy and ideology belonging to liberalism in which primary emphasis is placed on securing the freedom of the individual by limiting the power of the government. The philosophy emerged as a response to the Industrial Revolution and urbanization in the 19th century in Europe and the United States. It advocates civil liberties with a limited government under the rule of law, private property, and belief in laissez-faire economic policy. Classical liberalism is built on ideas that had already arisen by the end of the 18th century, such as selected ideas of Adam Smith, John Locke, Jean-Baptiste Say, Thomas Malthus, and David Ricardo. It drew on a psychological understanding of individual liberty, the contradictory theories of natural law and utilitarianism, and a belief in progress. Almost all of the American Founding Fathers were classic liberals including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine and others. Classical liberals and conservatives share an ideological agreement on limited government in the area of preventing government restriction against economic civil liberties as embodied in the ability of people to sell their goods, services or labor to anyone they choose free from restriction except in rare cases where society's general welfare is at stake. One example of classic liberalism's beliefs regarding the role of government is found in Thomas Hobbes's theory that government was created by individuals to protect themselves from one another.
The Vice President of the United States is the second highest public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people through the Electoral College to a four-year term of office. The Vice President is the first person in the presidential line of succession, and would ascend to the Presidency upon the death, resignation, or removal of the President.
The Democratic-Republican Party or Republican Party or Jeffersonian Republicans was the political party organized by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in 1791-93. It stood in opposition to the Federalist Party and controlled the Presidency and Congress, and most states, from 1801 to 1824, during the First Party System. It split after the 1824 presidential election into two parties: the Democratic Party and the short-lived National Republican Party (later succeeded by the Whig Party, some of whose adherents eventually helped to found the modern Republican Party).
Most contemporaries called it the Republican Party. Today, political scientists typically use the hyphenated version while historians usually call it the Jeffersonian Republicans, to distinguish it from the modern Republican Party, which was founded in 1854 and named after Jefferson's party.
The American Enlightenment is a period of intellectual ferment in the thirteen American colonies in the period 1714–1818, which led to the American Revolution, American Independence, the creation of the American Republic under the United States Constitution of 1787, the Bill of Rights in 1790, the development of Federal and State laws and institutions protecting the liberties defined in the constitution over the next three decades, and the War of 1812 or "Second War of Independence". Influenced by the 18th-century European Enlightenment, and its own native American Philosophy, the American Enlightenment applied scientific reasoning to politics, science, and religion, promoted religious tolerance, and restored literature, the arts, and music as important disciplines and professions worthy of study in colleges. The "new-model" American style colleges of King's College New York (now Columbia University), and the College of Philadelphia (now Penn) were founded, Yale College and the College of William & Mary were reformed, and a non-denominational moral philosophy replaced theology in many college curricula; even Puritan colleges such as the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) and Harvard reformed their curricula to include natural philosophy (science), modern astronomy, and math. The foremost representatives of the American Enlightenment included men who were Presidents of Colonial Colleges: Puritan religious leaders President Jonathan Edwards, President Thomas Clap, and President Ezra Stiles, and Anglican moral philosophers American President Samuel Johnson and Provost William Smith. It also included political thinkers John Adams, James Madison, James Wilson, and Alexander Hamilton, and polymaths Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.
Jeffersonian democracy, named after its advocate Thomas Jefferson, was one of two dominant political outlooks and movements in the United States from the 1790s to the 1820s. The term was commonly used to refer to the Democratic-Republican Party which Jefferson founded in opposition to the Federalist Party of Alexander Hamilton. The Jeffersonians believed in a republic, as form of government, and equality of political opportunity, with a priority for the "yeoman farmer", "planters" and the "plain folk". They were antagonistic to the aristocratic elitism of merchants and manufacturers, distrusted factory workers, and were on the watch for supporters of the dreaded British system of government. Above all, the Jeffersonians were devoted to the principles of Republicanism, especially civic duty and opposition to privilege, aristocracy and corruption.