For immigrants that seek to become naturalized American citizens, the journey requires patience and hard work. It gets complicated: forms, documents, paperwork, interviews, and a little bit of civics knowledge. Citizenship is more than a piece of paper, it’s an admission to one of the biggest, most innovative, and most freedom-loving nations on the planet. For many, it means access to opportunities, quality of life, an existence free of persecution from violence, and a brighter future for their families.
In our last post, we discussed a little background on the citizenship test and talked about the Father of our Nation, George Washington. He’s not the only notable figure discussed in the test, however, and here we delve into another beloved figure in American history.
Who Was the Great Thomas Jefferson?
Fighting the ideas of the age and establishing a new order is no small undertaking. Human beings are flawed and multi-dimensional. Like all other historical figures, Thomas Jefferson was a complex individual: well-studied, articulate, proficient, and immersed in the philosophical underpinnings of the American government. Jefferson has recently been highlighted as one historical figure that possessed contradictions. Historical figures are complicated human beings and should not be thought of as one-dimensional. Jefferson is a seminal figure in American history because of the ideas he put forward.
The citizenship test expects prospective citizens to know that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and that he was the third president of the United States.
So if you’re studying for the test, it’s a good tactic to know these names and know a little about their stories. This makes it easier to remember.
Let’s start there.
Jefferson’s Background and Upbringing
Thomas Jefferson was a highly educated man for his time. His father was prosperous and this allowed Jefferson to receive an outstanding education. In his early life, he was educated in boarding school, studied classical languages, and eventually enrolled in Mary College and studied philosophy, rhetoric, mathematics, and literature.
His early writing showed a fierce intellect that was deeply in tune with the philosophical ideas that sparked the independence movement in the colonies. He was appointed to the Second Continental Congress and was actively involved in stewing notions of independence among the colonists. Although shy in person, it was his engaging prose style that led him to be chosen to write the Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration of Independence
The citizenship test also references the Declaration of Independence, and the context surrounding this document is important to America’s founding. This document was the culmination of the independence movement and eloquently stated the argument for independence against the British Crown.
So while Jefferson penned the document in 1776, it was the result of the five-man committee that was tasked to declare the intentions of the colonies.
This document spells out the colonists’ position and the case for breaking with King George. This was a Declaration that the writers knew would bring war against the most powerful military in the world at that time. The colonists had already seen the power of the Crown, as King George III had unleashed in the year prior trying to quell the revolutionary movement that was already stirring.
So What does the Declaration of Independence Declare?
The document states the famous phrase “all men are created equal.” This is only a part of the larger idea expressed in the document. The Declaration states that:
“All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Most people are familiar with this creed, as it is central to American philosophy and law. What made it so noteworthy was that this is the first time in the course of human history that people declared they were not subject to a human ruler. In Britain, the King was considered the ruler of the country, and his will dictated the course of the nation, but the colonists were thinking up a form of government that drew inspiration from the Greeks and other philosophers and established that the people were rules of themselves. The underlying philosophy is that rights are not provided by the government, but rather given at birth by natural law or “the Creator.”
Join the Nation of Immigrants Through the Immigration and Naturalization Process
Here at Anable & Rivera, we specialize in immigration issues. Whether it’s people applying for green cards, visas, or getting ready for their citizenship test. The immigration process is complicated and can overwhelm anybody.
Want some help with your immigration question? Call Anable & Rivera today.