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Major Events Of Thomas Jefferson

US History

The election of 1800 was very close between Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson. Both got equal electoral votes i.e. 73 and tied for presidency.


The election of 1800 was very close between Aaron Burr and Thomas Jefferson. Both got equal electoral votes i.e. 73 and tied for presidency. The sitting House of Representatives was asked to break the deadlock. Finally, on February 17, on the thirty-sixth ballot, the opposition cracked and Jefferson was elected. Jefferson’s election was one of his greatest political victories, asserting his belief that “the sovereign people” would repel attacks on their liberties and the enduring republican principles of 1776.

Thomas Jefferson remained president for two terms. During his presidency, the major events that took place were; Tripolitan war (1801-1805), establishment of US Military Academy (1802), Purchase of Louisiana (1803), admission of Ohio to the Union (1803), Lewis Clarke expedition (1804-1806), abolition of slave trade (1807), Chesapake affair and Embargo Act (1807-1809).

Tripoli War (1801-1805):

Americans, during the presidency of Jefferson, engaged in war with Barbary state. The government used to pay tribute to the pirates of this area in order to save American ships from their attacks. After sometime, the pirates asked for increase in tribute which Jefferson refused. As a result a war started in area of Tripoli. This war continued for approximately five years. US won the war and were freed from paying tribute. However, it continued to pay tribute to the rest of the Barbary States.

Financial Program:

Jefferson wanted reduction of national debts, repeal of internal taxes, reduction in military expenses and and a congressional system of appropriations for some specific purposes. Gellatin, his secretary of Treasury, proposed a financial program that was in complete contrast with Hamilton’s program i.e. a weak central government. His program was completely endorsed by Congress.

To implement it practically, most of the internal excise imposed during Hamilton’s time was repealed. To reduce the National debt, income from custom was increased and military expenditure was lowered. As a result, the government national debt decreased from 83 million dollars to 53 million dollars in eight years. However, the decrease in budget of military proved to be an unwise decision in Tripolitin war and war of 1812 with Britain.

Purchase of Louisiana:

Louisiana Purchase is considered as the biggest achievement of Thomas Jefferson during his presidency as with this land, the area of United States almost doubled. Jefferson was eager to buy this province from France as with this, there would be no chance of war with France. With this in mind, he sent Robert R. Lavingstone to France and on 30th April, 1803 France sold 828,000 sq-miles of land for 15 million dollars (about 283 million dollars in todays time) i.e. five cents per acre.

With acquisition of Louisiana, entire Mississippi valley along with waterways came under US control. It opened up a vast region which includes the current 15 states. Some of them are Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, North & South Dakota, New Mexico etc. it paved the way for westward expansion and opened up a vast area of natural resources as well. Prof. Elson describes the purchase of Louisiana as “the greatest diplomatic achievement in the annals of United States.”

Lewis Clarke Expedition:

To explore the territory of Louisiana, Jefferson decided to send an expedition under Lewis and Clarke. The expedition started in 1803 and ended in 1806. Jefferson obtained $ 25,000/- from Congress to meet the expenses of the expedition which had 40 persons in total. The expedition travelled around 8,000 miles and gathered information about the landscape, plants, animals, resources, minerals and the nature of people of that area (mostly native Americans). The journals of Lewis and Clarke expedition described 180 plants and 125 animals of which scientists were unaware at that time. The biggest benefit of this expedition was that the US Government came to know what exactly it had purchased.

New National Capital | Washington D.C:

The first capital of the United States was the New York City. However, when Washington was reelected in 1792, the capital moved to Philadelphia. It remained capital for almost a decade. It was Thomas Jefferson, the first American President, to be inaugurated in the new and lasting capital of America i.e. Washington D.C. in March 1801.

Abolition of Slave Trade:

In 1807, Jefferson ended the foreign slave trade beginning January 01, 1808. He also established the precedent of Executive privilege.

Chesapeake Affair and Embargo Act (1807-1809):

When the second term of Jefferson was about to end, France and Britain were at war, due to which most of the times, American ships became prey of attacks from both sides. The notable among these attacks was when the British boarded an American frigate “Chesapeake” and forced (impressed) three soldiers to work on their vessel and killed one for treason. In response to this, Jefferson signed an Embargo Act in 1807, stopping American from foreign trade with them. Main objective was to hurt the trade of France and Britain but it turned out to be a blunder as it caused damage to American trade.


Jefferson presidency is considered to be one of the most important times in American History as it was during his tenure that Federalist aristocracy came to an end, American land size almost doubled (includes 15 current US states) due to purchase of Louisiana, Lewis & Clarke expedition and inaugural of the lasting capital of America i.e. Washington D.C.

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