The Instigator
ABNYU
Pro (for)
Losing
10 Points
The Contender
yarnedia
Con (against)
Winning
19 Points

Challenge me.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/7/2008 Category: Education
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,071 times Debate No: 4946
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (6)
Votes (7)

 

ABNYU

Pro

The Con can choose the topic of debate and which side they wish to be on.

I really don't mind what it's about...just make a clear topic.

Have at it!
yarnedia

Con

Thomas Jefferson is the most significant of the founding fathers. You are Pro. I hope you find this topic enjoyable...
Debate Round No. 1
ABNYU

Pro

Hey yarnedia,
Thanks for the topic. This should be very interesting.

I will begin by outlining the Framework for this debate as I see it.
-"Thomas Jefferson is the most significant of the founding fathers."
1. It will be my duty as Pro in this debate to prove that Thomas Jefferson is the most significant of the founding fathers. First, let's define founding fathers:

"Founding Fathers are persons instrumental in the establishment of an institution, usually a political institution, especially those connected to the origination of its ideals. In a national context, it is the establishment of a state."

(http://en.wikipedia.org...)Yes, I am aware this is Wikipedia. If my opponent has any discrepancies with the definition, it is up for a counter-interpretation.

I also think that it was my opponent's intention to make this debate open to only the founding fathers of the United States. If not, I would appreciate the opponent's cooperation in describing his intentions.

For the United States, "The signatories of the Declaration of Independence are often called 'Founders'..."

(http://en.wikipedia.org...) Therefore, the Con's ground is limited to arguments for only signatories of the Declaration of Independence.

Next, let's define "significant":

"having or likely to have influence or effect"
(http://www.merriam-webster.com...)

2. It will be the Con's duty to prove that Thomas Jefferson is NOT the most significant of the founding fathers. He may do this in any way he pleases without hurting the education or merit of the debate.

3. May the best debater win.

Now to begin my case.

A. This debate is limited to the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson WROTE the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson was appointed by the Continental Congress to a five-man committee to draft the Declaration where he served as the Chairman. His influence on the Declaration was unlike any of other founding fathers. In fact, Jefferson's leadership had already been proven with his help given to Virginia's delegates for the Continental Congress. (INSTRUCTIONS FROM JEFFERSON: http://www.loc.gov...)
The Declaration of Independence was the birth of the United States of America. The significance of this document is incredible. The words used by Jefferson still live today.

B. However, these were not just words. Jefferson put his words into action shortly after the submission of the Declaration by taking part in the formation of the Constitution of Virginia where he established RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. A case can be made for many of the Founding Fathers that they all believed in religious freedom. However, Jefferson put his ideals into law. This is what makes him significant. Thomas Jefferson was all about putting his philosophy into action.

"Throughout his life, Jefferson's abiding philosophy was that religious and civic duties should be separated - for the good of both.

In fact, the letter to the Danbury Baptists was an answer to why he refused to follow the lead of the first two presidents, George Washington and John Adams, and call for national days of "fasts and thanksgivings." According to Issac Kramnick, professor of government at Cornell University and an expert on the founding fathers, Jefferson declined to do so because that would mean a civic officer was deciding matters of religious faith. "He saw it as blurring the line between church and state. Fast days were too clearly religious in overtone," said Kramnick."

(St. Petersburg Times (Florida), September 20, 1998, Sunday, PERSPECTIVE; Pg. 6D, 902 words, ROBYN BLUMNER)

C. My third and final point for now is that Thomas Jefferson's ideals are still significant today. It is obvious that many of his ideals have found their way into U.S. law. However, Thomas Jefferson's ideals are still the basis for the same thing they were used for 200 years ago.
Take the fight for Scottish independence.

"Alex Salmond yesterday invoked the words of Thomas Jefferson when he told a US audience that Scotland had the right to self-governance.

In a Scotland Week speech at the University of Virginia, the First Minister used the founding father's work to promote a referendum on independence for Scotland.

In his second keynote speech of the week he said: 'Scotland, sooner rather than later, is entitled to have the right to choose our constitutional future.'"

"He added: "When the people of Scotland consider their place in the world and debate our constitutional future, the proper means to exercise this sovereignty is through a referendum.

"Thomas Jefferson wrote that 'every nation has a right to govern itself internally under what forms it pleases, and to change these forms at its own will'."

A delegation of Scottish ministers are in the US to mark Tartan Day and Scotland Week, which was known as Tartan Week prior to a rebranding exercise aimed at making the event more meaningful to Americans."

(The Scotsman, April 2, 2008, Wednesday, Pg. 16, 504 words, Lindsay McIntosh)

"'And it is the words of Thomas Jefferson that will inspire us - "We are a people capable of self-government and worthy of it" - not just clarion calls for liberty and independence but the recognition of the sovereignty of the people first suggested in European history in the Arbroath Declaration and taken to its logical conclusion by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.' "

"Washington had established the United States as a political entity but it is because of Thomas Jefferson that they have survived, not just as a republic but as an ideal."

(Daily Mail (London), April 3, 2008 Thursday, SC1; Pg. 17, 1142 words, John MacLeod)

-The excerpts from the articles the I have just provided are proof that Thomas Jefferson is the most significant founding father. They show how his words live today as a means of inspiration for those who find themselves in the same position as America did over 200 years ago. The evidence also makes the argument that unlike other founding fathers, "it is because of Thomas Jefferson that they have survived, not just as a republic but as an ideal."

These arguments are the basis of my case for Thomas Jefferson as the most significant Founding Father. Now, I will yield to the CON.
yarnedia

Con

Thanks ABNYU, you've accurately framed the debate as I intended so I will jump right in…

You are correct that the founders are the signers of the Declaration of Independence; however the Declaration is not the lone founding achievement and does not in itself define the founding of the United States. That said I will approach this debate by introducing all of the major founding achievements and will assess the relative significance of each.

In addition to arguing the significance of the major founding achievements, I will also argue the significance of Jefferson's contribution to each. With that, it should be clear as to whether or not Thomas Jefferson is the most significant founder of the United States of America.

Declaration of Independence:

Because the Declaration of Independence is the defining founding accomplishment of Thomas Jefferson and the basis of your argument, I will start there. Taking nothing away from the historical significance and inspirational qualities of the Declaration, the significance of this document to the actual founding of our country does not hold up comparatively speaking. If you were to ask the founders at the time, including Jefferson himself, they would have told you that the most important order of business at that moment was not the Declaration but the drafting of the state constitutions. Consequently, Jefferson spent his hours on the eve of drafting the Declaration, not thinking about that document at all, but rather Virginia's new constitution.

The fact that Jefferson was chosen to draft the Declaration speaks to its lack of priority. To give him due credit, the decision was based in part because of his demonstrated talents for writing and Jefferson had established his Revolutionary credentials to be sure. However, he was junior to his Virginian colleagues: Pendleton, Lee, and Henry. Jefferson was selected in part because of his junior status as there were higher priorities at the time, priorities such as leading the debate for independence on the floor, state constitutions, and developing alliances with France and Spain.

The last point I will make as to the relative significance of the Declaration of Independence is timing. By the time it was decided to daft the Declaration, independence was a foregone conclusion. It was no longer a matter of if we would declare, but when. We were already at war with the British, alliances were being formed, state constitutions were being drafted, and the King had rejected all attempts at reconciliation.

Now, in evaluation as to the relative significance of Jefferson's contribution to the Declaration of Independence, there is no question; he is most responsible for this founding achievement. It is important to note however that John Adams also played a significant role in its success. Adams led the way in congress in the debate on its adoption. Jefferson did not participate in a single debate on the matter. Many years later, Jefferson himself hailed Adams as "The Colossus of that Congress—the great pillar of support to the Declaration of Independence, and its ablest advocate and champion on the floor of the House."

(American Sphinx, 1997, Pg. 24-63, Joseph J. Ellis)

(http://en.wikipedia.org...)

--------------------------------------------

Drafting of individual state constitutions:

The vote in congress to draft new state constitutions was in effect a vote for independence. John Adams often argued that this vote on May 15, 1776 should have been celebrated as Independence Day not July 4th when the Declaration of Independence was adopted. Today, the Declaration of Independence is remembered as the great revolutionary act, but Adams and most of his contemporaries saw the Declaration as a mere formality. The resolution to draft independent constitutions was, as Adams put it, "independence itself." This also marked the first time in the world's history that a large group of communities, now thirteen independent and sovereign States, had begun the formation of their own governments under written constitutions.

Thomas Jefferson played very little role in this effort. Again, he did not participate in the debates leading to the vote. John Adams described Jefferson as "a silent member of Congress". While Jefferson did draft Virginia's constitution, it was John Adams who both led these debates and drafted the pamphlet: "Thoughts on Government" which was influential in writing many of the state constitutions. Adams' framework ultimately became the basis of the United States Constitution as well. For Adams' contributions here, he is known as the "Father of Constitutionalism"

(American Sphinx, 1997, Pg. 24-63, Joseph J. Ellis)

(http://oll.libertyfund.org...)

(http://en.wikipedia.org...)

--------------------------------------------

The Revolutionary War:

The significance of the Revolutionary War goes without saying. If necessary, I will be happy to argue its significance in later rounds. Here again, Jefferson played very little role in the War, aside from drafting inaccurate budgets.

George Washington is the obvious significant figure here. Important to note however, is that Washington's significance is not limited to his leadership in winning the war. In doing so his status as an American revolutionary figure was unmatched. His status with both congress and the American people allowed the Founders to navigate many difficult political waters unchallenged by the public or members of congress. Washington's clout was such that there was never any question as to whom our first president would be.

(Founding Brothers, 2000, Joseph J. Ellis)

Drafting/Ratification of the United States Constitution:

As with the Revolutionary War, the significance of the United States Constitution is obvious. Again, I can argue as much if necessary in future rounds. For this, Jefferson was in Paris and thus his participation was limited to his correspondence with James Madison. Jefferson concerned himself very little with constitutional matters - matters to which he always deferred to Madison's expertise. Rightfully so, it is James Madison who is considered the father of the United States Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights. He authored both.

(American Sphinx, 1997, Pg. 24-63, Joseph J. Ellis)

(http://en.wikipedia.org...)

--------------------------------------------

I've limited my argument to founding achievements as it is these achievements that define the significance of our Founding Fathers. I think I've made a strong case that the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson's defining and only significant founding contribution pales in significance to the vote for and drafting of state constitutions, the Revolutionary War, and the drafting and ratification of the United States Constitution. The Declaration of Independence is the only achievement discussed that the founding of the United States would have survived without. By extension, Thomas Jefferson cannot be considered the most significant Founding Father.

At this point I consider it your burden to persuade that either Jefferson played a more significant role in these other achievements than I've portrayed, or that I am wrong and the significance of the Declaration of Independence so far exceeds that of the other major founding accomplishments that we must consider Jefferson's overall significance to be substantial.

Your ball…
Debate Round No. 2
ABNYU

Pro

ABNYU forfeited this round.
yarnedia

Con

No response ABNYU? Then I will extend my prior argument for now. I have more in my back pocket for this one, I hope you bring more to this debate.
Debate Round No. 3
ABNYU

Pro

ABNYU forfeited this round.
yarnedia

Con

I guess ABNYU threw in the towel. I will again extend my round 2 argument and hope for a challenge in round 5.
Debate Round No. 4
ABNYU

Pro

ABNYU forfeited this round.
yarnedia

Con

Well unfortunately this was not much of a debate. I will summarize my argument by saying that Jefferson's only significant contribution to the founding of the country was the Declaration of Independence. I think I've successfully argued that there were a number of far more significant founding achievements that Jefferson played little or no role in. The fact is, the founding of our country would have occurred sans the Declaration.

Based on my argument you can at a minimum conclude that no one founder was most significant. If no founder is most significant CON is the proper vote. I would have liked to have made a case for Washington, Adams, or Franklin as most significant (I think a strong argument can be made for each) but unfortunately did not need to.

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 5
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Danielle 8 years ago
Danielle
Damn. I was looking forward to whatever else yarnedia was going to bring to the debate!
Posted by Im_always_right 8 years ago
Im_always_right
This looks interesting....
Posted by yarnedia 8 years ago
yarnedia
Sure thing, and thank you for indulging.
Posted by ABNYU 8 years ago
ABNYU
This will be fun. Thanks yarnedia.
Posted by Who 8 years ago
Who
Someone could always do something retarded, like take PRO on "Milk is a dairy product."
Posted by Im_always_right 8 years ago
Im_always_right
lol, I have no clue what side you are on on anything...
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by Teucer32 7 years ago
Teucer32
ABNYUyarnediaTied
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Vote Placed by yarnedia 8 years ago
yarnedia
ABNYUyarnediaTied
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Vote Placed by Josh 8 years ago
Josh
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Vote Placed by DarkBitch 8 years ago
DarkBitch
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Vote Placed by PoeJoe 8 years ago
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Vote Placed by gahbage 8 years ago
gahbage
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Vote Placed by Who 8 years ago
Who
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