Thomas Jefferson's Presidency

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What obstacles did Thomas Jefferson overcome?

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Thomas Jefferson certainly faced many obstacles, which should not be surprising for a leader of a revolution and founder of a nation. The other educator mentions some great examples. I will mention a couple more you might consider that occurred during his presidency.

When he was president, Jefferson really wanted to expand the country's role in international commerce. Unfortunately, the Barbary pirates of North Africa were seizing American ships and demanding huge tributes. In fact, in 1800, twenty percent of the federal budget went to paying pirates. The next year the United States fought its first foreign war against the Barbary pirates in order to end this tribute system. This meant building and outfitting a sufficient navy for the young country.

Back at home, Jefferson faced the embarrassing trial of Aaron Burr, his former vice president. It had come to light that Burr was conspiring to seize land in the southwest of the country and part of Mexico and might be establishing an independent nation. Jefferson was compelled to issue a warrant for Burr's arrest and charge him with treason. Ultimately, Burr was left uncharged, as there was not enough evidence to convict him. This was a political embarrassment for the Jefferson administration but it did negate any future political aspirations of Burr.

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One of the first major obstacles Jefferson faced was the responsibility to draft an acceptable first version of the Declaration of Independence. There were a variety of competing interests involved in the approval of the document and Jefferson had to overlook some of his own interests in order to win approval of the Continental Congress. For example, he had to remove a part of the draft that attacked King George III and the slave trade in order to appease some representatives who felt he was going too far. But he understood that he would have to make personal compromises in order to accomplish a larger goal.

He had to deal with the national debt and the question of where to put the capitol of the United States while he was serving as Secretary of State. He faced similar obstacles while pursuing major political goals like the Louisiana Purchase and funding and sending expeditions into the western portion of the continent when others felt that the money could be better spent.

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