Although Thomas Jefferson was in France serving as United States minister when the Federal Constitution was written in 1787, he was able to influence the development of the federal government through his correspondence.
Later his actions as the first secretary of state, vice president, leader of the first political opposition party, and third president of the United States were crucial in shaping the look of the nation's capital and defining the powers of the Constitution and the nature of the emerging republic.
Jefferson played a major role in the planning, design, and construction of a national capitol and the federal district.
In the various public offices he held, Jefferson sought to establish a federal government of limited powers.
Jefferson was instrumental in building the national capital district both in his role as secretary of state, and, later, as president.
In his 1791 plan for the Federal District, Jefferson envisioned a compact, simple republican design.During his service as secretary of state, Jefferson was responsible for the early planning and surveying of the nation's capital district.Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson drafted this advertisement for a national competition offering a 0 prize for a capitol building design. An amateur architect, Jefferson prepared his own sketch for a circular Capitol, which was submitted anonymously and rejected by President Washington and the commissioners.Federal Hall in New York was the site of the meeting of the First Federal Congress in 1789.As secretary of state, Jefferson dealt with Congress here for less than one year before the Federal Government relocated to Philadelphia in 1790, as part of the agreement to create a permanent federal capital district.He also paved the way for James Madison and James Monroe, his political protégés, to succeed him in the presidency. the tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants.Writing to William Smith (1755–1816), John Adams' secretary and future son-in-law, Thomas Jefferson seemed to welcome Shays' Rebellion in Massachusetts: “god forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion . it is it's natural manure.” Jefferson was confident that rather than repression, the “remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them.” Eighteenth-century political philosophers concerned themselves with the balance between the restrictions needed to make a government function and the individual liberties guaranteed by that government.Jefferson called his election triumph “the second American Revolution.” While president, Jefferson's principles were tested in many ways.For example, in order to purchase the Louisiana Territory from France he was willing to expand his narrow interpretation of the Constitution.But Jefferson stood firm in ending the importation of slaves and maintaining his view of the separation of church and state.In the end, Jefferson completed two full and eventful terms as president.