The Jefferson Presidency Summary & AnalysisThe Big Picture: Who, What, When, Where & (Especially) WhyJefferson's CredentialsIn 1801, Thomas Jefferson won election as the third president of the United States. The man who had written that "all men are created equal," the philosopher who had provided the emerging nation with its founding statement of human and national rights, was now rewarded with the presidential office. But while his supporters judged this appropriate—one might even say poetically appropriate—his qualifications for the office were questionedby many. How suited was a philosopher for the presidency? Was a person of such a speculative temperament really qualified for the nation's highest political office? To his critics, Jefferson's political resume did not provide much reassurance. He had arrived on the national scene as a delegate to the Second Continental Congressin 1775. But his place on the Virginia delegation was more the work of his political mentor, Peyton Randolph, than the result of any great achievements back home. In 1774, Jefferson had earned a reputation as a skilled
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