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The question of who wrote each of the essays has never been definitively answered.On July 4, 1776, in addition to approving the Declaration of Independence, Congress chose Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin to design a great seal for the new country.In 1793 the commission selected an exterior design by another amateur architect William Thornton (1759–1828) and an interior design by Stephen Hallet (1755–1825), the only professional architect to enter the competition.
This manual was written by Thomas Jefferson in 1800 and is based on the Parliamentary Pocket-Book or commonplace book and his experience during his tenure as vice-president and presiding officer of the United States Senate, 1797–1801.
The Charles Willson Peale's vibrant life portrait shows Jefferson as he looked when serving as secretary of state in President Washington's cabinet.
Jefferson's efforts to protect individual rights including freedom of the press were persistent, pivotal, and not always successful.
Jefferson was a staunch advocate of freedom of the press, asserting in a January 28, 1786, letter to James Currie (1745–1807), a Virginia physician and frequent correspondent during Jefferson's residence in France: “our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Thomas Jefferson's December 20, 1787, letter to James Madison contains objections to key parts of the new Federal Constitution.
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.
Franklin proposed the phrase “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God,” a sentiment Jefferson heartily embraced and included in the design for the Virginia seal and sometimes stamped it on the wax seals of his own letters.
Although Congress rejected the elaborate seal, it retained the words “E Pluribus Unum,” which became the country's motto.
Alexander Hamilton, a proponent of the broadest interpretation of the constitution based on the implied powers of the Federal Constitution, was the leading advocate for the national bank.
Jefferson and Hamilton quickly became outspoken leaders of two opposing interpretations of national government.