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Jefferson’s Ideology Conflicted with That of Alexander Hamilton

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In the book American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, Ellis describes Jefferson using achievements that symbolize the visions and intellectual spark that led to the founding of the greatest nation in the world. The book highlights the critical points in Jefferson’s career which include the penning down of the Declaration of Independence, the first-term presidency and his sojourn in Paris. The author chooses to dwell on the achievements of the character while overshadowing the dark side of his private life to create a selective and cinematic Jefferson through different periods of his life. Jefferson, an awkwardly tall and sandy-haired man from Virginia, grew up surrounded by excellent speakers like Ben Franklin and John Adams. He, on the other hand, thrived on writing down his ideas to fellow legislators for consideration during the drafting of the state constitution. The list he drafted marked his entry into service and earned him fame as it became ‘A Summary View of the Rights of British America.’ As a result, he was chosen to serve alongside Adams and Franklin.

Adams believed Jefferson would only take a day or two to draft the Declaration. Jefferson’s political agility would later manifest in Paris where he served as an ambassador alongside John Adams and Ben Franklin. He began a relationship with James Madison and James Monroe through letters (Ellis, 1998). However, the author shifts to his life in Monticello just after a frustrating life as a Secretary of the State in the administration of President George Washington. Jefferson’s ideologies conflicted with Alexander Hamilton’s because their perceptions of the government seemed to flourish on different issues.

For instance, Jefferson’s submissions favored the development of the United States as a republic with autonomy through loose trade alliance while Hamilton opted for the formation of a centralized government. Jefferson ran for the presidency for the first time against John Adams and failed. However, after nursing his wounds and vying for the second time, he became victorious and led the United States through a prosperous term noticeable by stability in the economy, international harmony, and doubling of the size of the country by purchasing Louisiana territory from Napoleon.

The author utilizes his astute historical knowledge to unearth the positive side of Jefferson in a way that most authors and readers would find quite cumbersome. He also fails to confine himself to the chronological bounds of the events in the life of Jefferson to help the reader understand the book better. The author also decides to give the character a heroic ending by highlighting his correspondence with John Adams and their death on the day the country signed the Declaration of Independence. Moreover, his organization of the book spreads out the dark side of the character to make him look normal like everyone else.

For instance, the author spreads out Jefferson’s views on slavery and his tolerance of inconsistency in a way that makes the audience stay focused on the character’s pivotal character traits that he deems fit for the audience. As it is the case with most individuals who publish biographies, Ellis portrays to the readers that his best analogy of Jefferson describes him as an individual who lived propitious moments of his life developing a personality of an intelligent man who thrived through relative morality, self-deceit, and rationalism to develop the perfect character described in the book.

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