Thomas Jefferson’s Contradictions

Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the USA, the main author of the Declaration of Independence and a prominent political philosopher, was known as an exceptionally contradictory person. His views changed according to the situation and at the same time he could act contrary to his words and expressed opinions. His life seems to be a bright example of hypocrisy. However, it is impossible to have a unique opinion about the life of this person.

His contribution into the development of the USA was immense; he really loved America and tried to do everything for the public good. He created a political party that united all branches of government, he improved American legislation and tried to set an example for the whole country by his governing at Virginia State, he inspired two political revolutions that changed the life of Americans gently and peacefully and during his retirement he established the University of Virginia. These are only some examples from his remarkable activity. Nevertheless, meanwhile he said that he hated political parties: “If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all” (Jefferson, 1996) Supporting the strictness of the Constitution, he appropriated Louisiana territory and dominated over it as a monarch. He kept slaves and meanwhile claimed that “all men are created equal”. (Jefferson, 1996)

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Such contradictions caused many disputes among historians who tried to find different explanations. It is really very difficult to find the explanation for Jefferson’s discrepant nature as every time he expressed his points of view he seemed to be frank. However, comparing his words with his acts it was impossible to realize what was done sincerely. Still, till now there is no the only right answer to this enigmatic question. Some historians consider such controversial character to be typical for all Americans and state it as a characteristic feature of the nation. Personally, I believe it is impossible to judge the whole nation only by some individuals, even if they are prominent personalities.

Though such dual behavior was peculiar to Thomas Jefferson and I am inclined to believe it, as there are actual proofs of it, I do not agree that all Americans are like this. It always depends on the particular personality. On the one hand, Jefferson’s contradictory behavior might have been conditioned by his attempts to adapt to the current situation to the best advantage. In general all people try to benefit from one or another situation, nevertheless, it is always important to keep to your principles. When you couple your words with your acts, you are respected as a responsible and noble person. On the other hand, Jefferson might have been one of those people who could not understand his own beliefs himself and orient in his aspirations. Every time he changed his opinion, he believed it.

To make up a conclusion, I suppose that Thomas Jefferson was a remarkable personality and an influential politician who played a significant role in the development of America. Still, this extraordinary person cannot be considered a typical representative of the entire American nation, as among people such divergence is regarded as a drawback.


1. Jefferson: Political Writings. (1996)(Ed.) Cambridge University Press.
2. Yarbrough Jean M., (1992) American Virtues: Thomas Jefferson on the Character of a Free People. University Press of Kansas.