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  1. Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 [a] – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809.

    • Quotes
    • Early years
    • Assessment
    • Causes
    • Elections
    • Aftermath
    • Retirement
    • Sources

    In the thick of party conflict in 1800, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a private letter, I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.

    This powerful advocate of liberty was born in 1743 in Albemarle County, Virginia, inheriting from his father, a planter and surveyor, some 5,000 acres of land, and from his mother, a Randolph, high social standing. He studied at the College of William and Mary, then read law. In 1772 he married Martha Wayles Skelton, a widow, and took her to live i...

    Freckled and sandy-haired, rather tall and awkward, Jefferson was eloquent as a correspondent, but he was no public speaker. In the Virginia House of Burgesses and the Continental Congress, he contributed his pen rather than his voice to the patriot cause. As the silent member of the Congress, Jefferson, at 33, drafted the Declaration of Independen...

    Sharp political conflict developed, and two separate parties, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans, began to form. Jefferson gradually assumed leadership of the Republicans, who sympathized with the revolutionary cause in France. Attacking Federalist policies, he opposed a strong centralized Government and championed the rights of states.

    As a reluctant candidate for President in 1796, Jefferson came within three votes of election. Through a flaw in the Constitution, he became Vice President, although an opponent of President Adams. In 1800 the defect caused a more serious problem. Republican electors, attempting to name both a President and a Vice President from their own party, ca...

    When Jefferson assumed the Presidency, the crisis in France had passed. He slashed Army and Navy expenditures, cut the budget, eliminated the tax on whiskey so unpopular in the West, yet reduced the national debt by a third. He also sent a naval squadron to fight the Barbary pirates, who were harassing American commerce in the Mediterranean. Furthe...

    Jefferson retired to Monticello to ponder such projects as his grand designs for the University of Virginia. A French nobleman observed that he had placed his house and his mind on an elevated situation, from which he might contemplate the universe.

    The Presidential biographies on WhiteHouse.gov are from The Presidents of the United States of America, by Frank Freidel and Hugh Sidey. Copyright 2006 by the White House Historical Association.

    • Thomas Jefferson’s Early Years
    • Marriage and Monticello
    • Thomas Jefferson and The American Revolution
    • Jefferson's Path to The Presidency
    • Jefferson Becomes Third U.S. President
    • Thomas Jefferson’s Later Years and Death

    Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, at Shadwell, a plantation on a large tract of land near present-day Charlottesville, Virginia. His father, Peter Jefferson (1707/08-57), was a successful planter and surveyor and his mother, Jane Randolph Jefferson (1720-76), came from a prominent Virginia family. Thomas was their third child and eldest ...

    After his father died when Jefferson was a teen, the future president inherited the Shadwell property. In 1768, Jefferson began clearing a mountaintop on the land in preparation for the elegant brick mansion he would construct there called Monticello(“little mountain” in Italian). Jefferson, who had a keen interest in architecture and gardening, de...

    In 1775, with the American Revolutionary War recently underway, Jefferson was selected as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress. Although not known as a great public speaker, he was a gifted writer and at age 33, was asked to draft the Declaration of Independence (before he began writing, Jefferson discussed the document’s contents with a f...

    After returning to America in the fall of 1789, Jefferson accepted an appointment from President George Washington (1732-99) to become the new nation’s first secretary of state. In this post, Jefferson clashed with U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton (1755/57-1804) over foreign policy and their differing interpretations of the U.S. Co...

    Jefferson was sworn into office on March 4, 1801; he was the first presidential inauguration held in Washington, D.C. (George Washington was inaugurated in New Yorkin 1789; in 1793, he was sworn into office in Philadelphia, as was his successor, John Adams, in 1797.) Instead of riding in a horse-drawn carriage, Jefferson broke with tradition and wa...

    Jefferson spent his post-presidential years at Monticello, where he continued to pursue his many interests, including architecture, music, reading and gardening. He also helped found the University of Virginia, which held its first classes in 1825. Jefferson was involved with designing the school’s buildings and curriculum and ensured that unlike o...

    • 4 min
  2. Thomas Jefferson was born April 13, 1743, the third child of ten and the first son of Peter and Jane Randolph Jefferson. His father was a classic Virginia frontiersman, a self-made man and judge, a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses.

  3. Jan 25, 2021 · Who Was Thomas Jefferson? Thomas Jefferson was the primary draftsman of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the nation's first secretary of state and the second vice president (under John...

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