But while his supporters judged this appropriate—one might even say poetically appropriate—his qualifications for the office were by 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 didn't provide much reassurance. He'd arrived on the national scene as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress in 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 writer with his Summary View of the Rights of British America—a summary of American grievances against current British colonial policies—and this reputation would lead to his being asked to draft the colonies' .


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