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The portrait of Jefferson at aged forty-eight hung in Peale's famous museum of science, art, and curiosities in Philadelphia until the collection was dispersed in 1854.
President George Washington was near the end of his second presidential term in 1796 when he sat for this portrait by Gilbert Stuart (1755–1828).
Washington's portrait by Stuart became the favorite of nineteenth-century lithographers, who made and sold thousands of copies.
Although Thomas Jefferson was in France serving as United States minister when the Federal Constitution was written in 1787, he was able to influence the development of the federal government through his correspondence.
Later his actions as the first secretary of state, vice president, leader of the first political opposition party, and third president of the United States were crucial in shaping the look of the nation's capital and defining the powers of the Constitution and the nature of the emerging republic.
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.
In the 1800 presidential election, Jefferson and Aaron Burr deadlocked, creating a constitutional crisis.
However, once Jefferson received sufficient votes in the electoral college, he and the defeated incumbent, John Adams, established the principle that power would be passed peacefully from losers to victors in presidential elections.
Primarily, Jefferson noted the absence of a bill of rights and the failure to provide for rotation in office or term limits, particularly for the chief executive.
During the writing and ratification of the constitution, in an effort to influence the formation of the new governmental structure, Jefferson wrote many similar letters to friends and political acquaintances in America.