THOMAS JEFFERSON AS A PHILOSOPHER
>I am 15 and researching Thomas Jefferson for a term paper in my world >history class regarding him as philosopher. >I have found several web-sites on the Internet in relation to Thomas >Jefferson. >If you could provide me with some more sites on him or you have some >information I may find useful I ask that you E-mail me. As a political philosopher, Thomas Jefferson was the greatest, in my opinion. Much greater than Locke or Aristotle, or anyone since, because he formulated a philosophy of government which became the chief intellectual foundation of the American republic, and it was practical, not theoretical like Locke and Aristotle. I would recommend that you look at the following websites: Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government http://etext.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/ The summaries at the head of each chapter gives an outline of Jefferson's philosophy. The Jeffersonian Perspective http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/7970/index.htm Look especially at the essay on "Individual Rights and Popular Sovereignty." That examines Jefferson's philosophy in relation to Locke's, showing how Jefferson took Locke's basic views, but went much further with them, formulating the principles of SELF- GOVERNMENT, which other philosophers never achieved.
> I am putting together a >political viewpoint of the formation of American presidents prior to taking >a course on National Government sometime in the future. Not sure when I >will have the time to take the course though, but I am interested in >learning what shaped our political policies so I can at least argue >constructively with my intelligent husband! With respect to your study of the political viewpoints of American presidents: It is my belief that the political philosophy that is the foundation of the American republic is derived from Jefferson to an extent that is much greater than what is usually attributed to him. As befits a person of Jefferson's modesty, he himself never claimed such a role, and it has been easy for historians to overlook the way his political philosophy influenced other actors, such as Madison, and played a formative role in American government. In fact, I suspect it would make an interesting focus for the study of the various political viewpoints of American presidents to begin with that assumption of Jefferson's primary influence, and then chart how that influence was altered, violated, perverted, or whatever. This deviation was especially noticeable in the 20th century when T. Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson cast aside the non-involvement in European wars that was a fundamental tenet of Jefferson, and when F.D.Roosevelt violated the precedent established by Jefferson when the former became, in effect, president for life. If you will review my website, Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government, you will find a complete political philosophy that can serve as the ground-work for assessing the whole course of American government, both what it is and what it should be, were it to be consistent with fundamental principle. It was Abraham Lincoln who said, "The principles of Jefferson are the axioms of a free society." Those principles serve as a valuable measuring-stick for assessing any society that purports to be free.
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