Thomas Jefferson was one of the most prolific thinkers of his time, spanning with a much wider scope than helping to construct the United States, and establish the nation in the international community. Though elected to the highest office in the United States twice, his first inaugural address was very reflective of social changes taking place at the time, as well as new and more liberal thoughts associated with the Enlightenment, Romanticism, as well as transcendentalism.
Thomas Jefferson, during his address, spoke openly about the equality of ideas, as well as the ushering in of new ideals. This period in history, known as the Enlightenment (primarily due to how heavily it weighed both reason and rationality), saw drastic social changes throughout the United States and Europe. Jefferson calls every American equal, regardless of political affiliation, and called for the overall molding of ideas. These appeals to the citizens of the United States directly reflected the Enlightenment ideals of reason and rationality. Looking at the overall train of thought during this period, and specifically the acceptance and transfer of information between political parties, Jefferson embodied the ideas of the Enlightenment.
Thomas Jefferson was very well known for having one of the most extensive libraries that has ever existed. Extremely self-educated in virtually every subject of the day, his worldly intelligence allowed him to draw from a great many influences, domestic and abroad. The two political parties of the day, Jefferson’s Democratic Republicans and Hamilton’s Federalists, had engaged in a very nasty campaign against each other for the Presidency. Before Jefferson, Federalist thought prevailed–so, in many ways his address itself was reflective of the Enlightenment. It reflected the transfer of power from a strong centralized government to a more traditionally democratic, and free, Union.
The ideals of the Enlightenment were embodied around abolishing serfdom, centralizing the government, and giving people more freedom, including religious freedom. Although the United States may claim to embody the ideals of Enlightenment, the hatred towards specific races, sexualities and religions begs to differ.