Thomas Jefferson is one of the most, if not the most influential man in regards to the American revolution. He is most known for writing the Declaration of Independence, thus starting the US’s secession from Great Britain. However, before this, Jefferson wrote a pamphlet titled “A Summary View of the Rights of British America”.
It was this pamphlet that gave Jefferson the reputation for being a skilled political mind with excellent writing skills. “A Summary View of the Rights of British America” was printed and circulated in both the colonies and in London. In this pamphlet, Jefferson critiques everyone from the Monarch, King George III, to the British Parliament. He slams the British government for being too powerful and authoritative. Specifically, Jefferson thanked Britain for some of the aid that came into America, however, he hits back at the strings attached to the assistance. He claims that “had such terms been proposed, they would have rejected them with disdain, and trusted for better to the moderation of their enemies” (Jefferson 7). Jefferson posits that colonists would have likely turned to others like French Canada or perhaps Spain for assistance because they would be more receptive to the colonists. Jefferson goes on to say that each day brought more and more aggrandizement of power against the colonist, to the point that it brought the British regime to despotism (Jefferson7-8).
Jefferson being a white, land-owning male, was subject to the taxes that many colonists felt were, unnecessary, encroaching, and overall unfair. From the inception of taxes like the Stamp Act and Sugar Act, Britain would only look like leeches sucking at the pockets of Americans who bleed for the Crown. Jefferson would have unequivocally felt that a break from Great Britain was not only desired but necessary for the prosperity to hard-working Americans like himself.
Jefferson’s home state of Virginia was just as daring as Jefferson was when it came to hitting back at Great Britain. Indeed, it housed two monumental
men in Jefferson and Patrick Henry. A lot of the anger in Virginia stemmed from the closing of the Boston Harbor. The Royal Governor of Virginia felt that he would lose control of the state dismantled the House of Burgesses. He then fled to a ship anchored in the Atlantic and planned an invasion to take back control of the colony (Society of the Cincinnati 5). Even though it had been dissolved, Virginia’s legislature continued to work illegally. This congregation of assemblymen went on to elect the members to the First Continental Congress (Virginia and The American Revolution). The final ties were severed in 1775. Virginians and Britons under the command of Governor Dunmore. They fought at the Battle of Great Bridge near Norfolk, Virginia. The aftermath of this battle led many to believe that any hope of rapprochement with Great Britain had vanished.
All of this culminated into the moments that make Jefferson a man never to be forgotten by Americans. On June 7th, 1776, Richard Henry Lee called for a complete political separation from the British Empire. While some delegates at the Congress preferred to dismiss this idea, a committee was still set up to draft an independence declaration. Remembered for his writing of “A Summary View of the Rights of British America,” Jefferson was chosen as the main author. In his own words, Jefferson sought out to create an “expression of the American mind” in unity against British aggression (Jefferson and the Declaration). He submitted a draft, but to his dismay, it was severely edited. After pressure from an impending British fleet off the coast of New York, the Congress decided to sign the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, and it was ratified on August 2nd (Jefferson and the Declaration).
Jefferson’s work leading up to the Revolution was quintessential to drumming up support for the American cause. Though he was personally affected by actions from Britain, Jefferson saw things through a wider lens. He knew that he had a role to play in the impending war, and sought to use his talents for the good of the American public.
“Jefferson and the Declaration.” Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2017.
Jefferson, Thomas. “A Summary View of the Rights of British America: Set Forth in Some Resolutions Intended for the Inspection of the Present Delegates of the People of Virginia, Now in Convention / by a Native, and Member of the House of Burgesses.” WDL RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2017.
Society of the Cincinnati. “Virginia in the American Revolution.” (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 7 Feb. 2017.
“Virginia and the American Revolution.” United States History. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2017.