Thomas Jefferson

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Explain Dominant Color Explain Auxiliary Color

The Green in this spiritual portrait represents Jefferson's tendency to be logical. In Introverts, the dominant function is directed inwardly, and spiritual portraits use a long horizontal line to represent this. This preference is evident in his interests in topics such as philosophy, science, and technology.

The Blue in this spiritual portrait represents Jefferson's idealism. In Introverts, the auxiliary function is directed outwardly and is more evident than the dominant function. This tendency is evident in his authoring of the Declaration of Independence and his support of religious freedom and being able to see the possibility that people with different religious beliefs could overcome their differences and learn to live together.

3rd President of the USA — Mar. 4, 1801 to Mar. 4, 1809

As the third president of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson was the first president to be ....

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Thomas Jefferson:
The Story

As the third president of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson was the first president to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C.

And as the first president from the Democratic-Republican Party, Jefferson paved the way for the next three presidents. At the time they were known as just Republicans — but should not to be confused with the GOP. The Republicans of the early 1800s, led by Jefferson, James Madison (4th), James Monroe (5th), and John Quincy Adams (6th), occupied the Presidency continuously from March 4, 1801 until March 4, 1829.

Ideally: Liberty Without Anarchy

The vast amount of Blue in Jefferson's profile represents his strong preference for idealism. This idealism is quite obvious in his authoring the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1777, an important precursor to the First Amendment to the Constitution in 1791.

As the following quote shows, Jefferson's idealism also enabled him to delineate the fine yet crucial distinction between too much liberty — total anarchy — and just enough:

Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. [Emphasis added.]
 — Thomas Jefferson, in a Letter to Isaac H. Tiffany, April 4, 1819.

Jefferson's idealism certainly helped make the transition to the United States' new and unique system of government — once independence from Britain was attained — relatively peaceful. In contrast, the transitions of some other countries since then have been quite the opposite.

From France's Reign of Terror in the late 1790s to more recent conflicts such as the Arab Spring of the early 2010s, Americans were and continue to be fortunate to have individuals such as Jefferson — and the countless others he inspired — step up and make their ideals well known.

Surely everyone would agree that any sort of violence is the ultimate act of disrespect for the equal rights of others.

He Just Feels Like it Sometimes

Thomas Jefferson is famous for authoring the Declaration of Independence, but a letter he wrote to Maria Cosway in the spring of 1786 shows a strong awareness and appreciation of the psychological opposites that fans of the MBTI® call Thinking and Feeling.

Jefferson wrote this letter over 135 years before Carl Jung would articulate his observances in his General Description of the Types in 1923. The letter articulates — in an extremely personal and revealing manner — the distinction between the Thinking (Green) and Feeling (Red) functions playing a part in the four-letter-types created and popularized by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers around that same time.

Following are some excerpts from My Head and My Heart:

Seated by my fireside, solitary & sad, the following dialogue took place between my Head & my Heart:
Head: Well, friend, you seem to be in a pretty trim.
Heart: I am indeed the most wretched of all earthly beings. Overwhelmed with grief, every fibre of my frame distended beyond its natural powers to bear, I would willingly meet whatever catastrophe should leave me no more to feel or to fear.
Head: These are the eternal consequences of your warmth & precipitation. This is one of the scrapes into which you are ever leading us....
Heart: Oh, my friend! This is no moment to upbraid my foibles. I am rent into fragments by the force of my grief! ....
Head: On the contrary I never found that the moment of triumph with you was the moment of attention to my admonitions.... Harsh therefore as the medicine may be, it is my office to administer it....
Heart: Accordingly, Sir, this acquaintance was not the consequence of my doings. It was one of your projects which threw us in the way of it....
 — Excerpts from My Head and My Heart, a letter from Thomas Jefferson to Maria Cosway, October 12, 1786.

Thomas Jefferson's profile shows only a very slight preference for Thinking over Feeling, and this short passage shows he took advantage of both decision-making techniques. This explains why some consider him an enigma, in that he could declare all men are created equal while tacitly condoning slavery, and even own slaves while loving at least one of them.

Ugly Rumors

Some people claim that Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton actually hated each other. Although this is ultimately a matter of semantics, one might reasonably like to think the Founding Fathers were better than that.

The following quote, from Jefferson's Anas, shows he actually had genuine — albeit qualified — respect for Hamilton:

Hamilton was, indeed, a singular character. Of acute understanding, disinterested, honest, and honorable in all private transactions, amiable in society, and duly valuing virtue in private life, yet so bewitched and perverted by the British example as to be under thorough conviction that corruption was essential to the government of a nation.
 — From The Anas by Thomas Jefferson, 1791-1806.

No Time for Hate

Thomas Jefferson's Anas are scraps of paper containing notes he left that, taken together, form a well-kept diary. Jefferson's candid opinion of Hamilton, as expressed above, makes it sound like allegations of hatred might be a bit exaggerated.

Hate is an emotion, but Jefferson, Hamilton, and Adams were predominantly logical people. Emotions — such as those that dominated the French Revolution around this time — are the driving force behind mobs.

Although Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Alexander Hamilton became political rivals, these three were nonetheless strongly united in their contempt for mob violence. It is actually the lack of hatred and predominance of reason that made the American Revolution much less bloody than the one in France.

Saying the Founding Fathers hated each other sounds shocking because it's hyperbole — essentially fake news — at best, a poor choice of words. If Thomas Jefferson was a more emotional person, and more likely to be a hater, the tendency to be emotional would show up as more Red in his spiritual portrait.

Preserving Liberty

Like his fellow Founding Fathers George Washington and John Adams, Jefferson realized that ignorance would mean the end of the republic:

Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education & free discussion are the antidotes of both.
 — Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Adams, August 1, 1816.

Americans are fortunate to have a system of government created by a group of well-educated, reasonable, and sincere Founding Fathers such as Thomas Jefferson. As the third president of the United States and author of the Declaration of Independence, his contributions to the subsequent success of the nation are undeniable.

More About Jefferson and Hamilton

There is a condensed version of this story about Jefferson and a corresponding story about Alexander Hamilton on

There is also a fairly personal review of the books and videos used to create this and the other spiritual portraits of America's Founding Fathers on this site in Hamilton and Jefferson Were Both Awesome on

Hamilton and Jefferson were different in many ways — and these articles put their differences in a new perspective — so check them out today!

About This Portrait

This portrait is based on the TV Mini-Series documentary Thomas Jefferson by Ken Burns, the book Jefferson Himself: The Personal Narrative of a Many-Sided American by Bernard Mayo, and the biography of Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow — which actually discusses Jefferson quite a bit.

Like the rest of Ken Burns' films, all viewers can enjoy the TV Mini-Series documentary. Mayo's book, on the other hand, is best for readers interested in taking a deep dive into Jefferson's correspondence. For more information about Chernow's book, see the page with Alexander Hamilton's image on this site.

Released in 1997, the video by Ken Burns is informative and a real pleasure to watch. I highly recommend it for everyone!