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Important Figures In American History

By Edited Nov 17, 2016 1 1

A Couple Good Men

Throughout the history of the United States, many important, historical figures have helped shape the world that we live in today.  Among these fascinating contributors are Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson.  These two individuals have greatly influenced the United States by establishing constructive values and principles for all Americans to abide.  From the writing of the Declaration of Independence, to the abolishment of slavery, both figures have played pivotal roles in building the foundation of our nation.  The influence, leadership and resilience showcased by these two individuals was absolutely outstanding and vital to the growth of America.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was elected the third President of the United States in 1801.  His major contributions to American society include, his promotion of republicanism, being a primary author of the Declaration of Independence and the Louisiana Purchase, all of which greatly impact our nation to this day.  Jefferson was very interested in republican principles when it came to politics and government.  He stressed the importance of protecting the rights of the people, thus giving them a voice and allowing them to correct the government should it move in the wrong direction.  Therefore, this idea of a republic, which is controlled by the people, is what we have here today in America.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness (The Declaration of Independence).”  In 1776, much of these ideas and statements of human rights were then drafted by Jefferson into the Declaration of Independence, thus, declaring the United States independent from Great Britain.

Another influential event during Jefferson’s administration was the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the United States.  In 1803, Jefferson sent Robert Livingston to negotiate the purchase of the land, in an attempt to prevent the re-establishment of French colonies in America.  Livingston was quoted as saying, “…From this day the United States take their place among the powers of the first rank (Louisiana Purchase).”  This was certainly true, since the purchase created one nation, thus, denying the establishment of foreign colonies, such as Spanish or English.  Therefore, the Louisiana Purchase was one of Jefferson’s greatest contributions to America, since it eventually led to the expansion westward to the Pacific Ocean. 

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was elected as the 16th President of the United States March of 1861.  During his administration, Lincoln’s greatest contributions included the following: successfully leading the United States through the American Civil War, preserving the Union and abolishing slavery.  When Lincoln got elected, many of the southern, pro-slavery states had had enough and chose to secede from the rest of the United States.  The United States was then divided between the northern and southern states, or the Union (antislavery) and the Confederate (pro-slavery).  Although this division led to the American Civil War, Lincoln’s leadership led to a Union victory, reuniting the nation and forbidding the southern states from seceding.  Lincoln’s success with the American Civil War was huge because had the South won the war, it would be possible that the U.S. be split in two, The United States of America, and The Confederate States of America. 

During the American Civil War, Lincoln also contributed to what I believe is one of the most important events in U.S. history, the abolishment of slavery.  With the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, all slaves within the Confederate states were to be free.  As the Union armies advanced south, over three million slaves were freed, but Lincoln’s passion for equality and the ending of slavery did not stop there.  He began to invest much time into the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which states in Section 1, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction”.  Because of the many casualties of the American Civil War, many began to turn against Lincoln’s War efforts, however, he righteously reestablished to our nation that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”.

The Importance Of The Individual

The growth of America has been the product of historic events that took place because of important political leaders.  I believe that a growing, prosperous country must have a solid foundation, consisting of just principles and values.  In order to have a solid, governmental foundation, there must be an elite group of men/women who are unwilling to compromise the cost of success; Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson were no exception.  It is possible that without the contributions from these two individuals, America would be subdivided into two America’s and possibly consist of French, English, and Spanish states.  To think that America could be a nation, in which the people have no voice in government and where the value of equality is minimal, is astonishing.  Thankfully, a select few individuals have elected to devote their lives to the well being of our nation, The United States of America.

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Comments

Aug 11, 2011 11:23pm
JudyE
I enjoyed this article. It helped advance my knowledge of these two great men. We didn't learn much about the USA in school in Australia so this has been interesting.
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Bibliography

  1. Leidner, Gordon "The Thirteenth Amendment." Great American History. 15/06/2010 <Web >
  2. "The Gettysburg Address." Showcase.netins. 15/06/2010 <Web >
  3. "Thomas Jefferson." Monticello. 15/06/2010 <Web >

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