What were the main points of significance in Jefferson's Inaugural Address ?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Jefferson wisely used his Inauguration Address to heal some of the division that was caused by his election in 1800.  He understood that the political cause of partisan rancor, as evident in his political campaign, might have place in an election, but could prove to be destructive if carried over into the realm of governance.  Some of the ideas of significance in his address come from this idea of trying to find common ground.  Jefferson used the idea of speaking to both political parties in his address in embracing that "We are both Federalists and Republicans."  Such sentiments did much to bring forth the idea that Jefferson was going to govern with a sensibility that would allow bipartisanship and a sense of cooperation to emerge.  Jefferson sought to bring people together under the hopeful belief that upholding the Constitution and the nation could prove to be unifying forces:

Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things.

To this point, Jefferson continues with the idea that "political intolerance" can be just as destructive as "religious intolerance."  He concludes his address with a call to humility, suggesting that he is merely a portion of a larger configuration and that he understands this in assuming the Presidency:

I ask your indulgence for my own errors, which will never be intentional, and your support against the errors of others, who may condemn what they would not if seen in all its parts. 

Jefferson uses his Inauguration Address to emphasize that modern governance can only be effective when it seeks to include as many voices as possible.