What are some challenges Thomas Jefferson faced?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) faced many challenges of a political and personal nature during his lifetime. He beloved wife Martha died in 1782, and it is believed by many historians that Jefferson had a long relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings, and may have had children with her. He wrestled with the issue of slavery and thought the institution of slavery was damaging to master and slave. However, he did not act to abolish or limit slavery when he was President (though he had earlier proposals that limited slavery).

After he won the presidential election of 1800 in a contested election with Aaron Burr (that was in itself a struggle), he also wrestled with the size and mission of the federal government. While his idea as a Democratic-Republican (or Republican, as his party was then called) President was to limit the size of the federal government, he actually expanded the size and power of the government in some ways when he made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. He also struggled with British impressment of American sailors, meaning that Britain tried to force Americans into their navy. As a result, Jefferson imposed an embargo on British goods. This also was a show of the power of the federal government--a principle that he was opposed to--and it was largely ineffective, only hurting the United States. He was unable in the end to stop British impressment. 

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