- NAME: Thomas Jefferson
- OCCUPATION: Diplomat, U.S. President, U.S. Vice President, U.S. Governor, Government Official
- BIRTH DATE: April 13, 1743
- DEATH DATE: July 04, 1826
- EDUCATION: College of William and Mary
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Shadwell, Virginia
- PLACE OF DEATH: Monticello (near Charlottesville), Virginia
- Nickname: "Sage of Monticello"
- Nickname: "Apostle of the Constitution"
- Nickname: "Long Tom"
- Full Name: Thomas Jefferson
Best Known For
Thomas Jefferson was a draftsman of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president (1801-09). He was also responsible for the Louisiana Purchase.
In 1784 Thomas Jefferson arrived in Paris as a trade representative appointed by the Continental Congress. In Paris, Jefferson would be exposed to an entirely new culture and way of life.
Thomas Jefferson wrote the "Head and Heart" letter to Mariah Causeway.
At the Second Continental Congress in June of 1775, Thomas Jefferson flaunted his writing abilities.
33-year-old Thomas Jefferson was assigned the task of writing the Declaration of Independence.
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There he sought to revise Virginia's laws to fit the American ideals he had outlined in the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson successfully abolished the doctrine of entail, which dictated that only a property owner's heirs could inherit his land, and the doctrine of primogeniture, which required that in the absence of a will a property owner's oldest son inherited his entire estate.
In 1777, Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom,
which established freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. Although the document was not adopted as Virginia state law for another nine years, it was one of Jefferson's proudest life accomplishments.
On June 1, 1779, the Virginia legislature elected Jefferson as the state's second governor. His two years as governor proved the low point of Jefferson's political career. Torn between the Continental Army's desperate pleas for more men and supplies and Virginians' strong desire to keep such resources for their own defense, Jefferson waffled and pleased no one. As the Revolutionary War progressed into the South, Jefferson moved the capital from Williamsburg to Richmond, only to be forced to evacuate that city when it, rather than Williamsburg, turned out to be the target of British attack.
On June 1, 1781, the day before the end of his second term as governor, Jefferson was forced to flee his home at Monticello (located near Charlottesville, Virginia), only narrowly escaping capture by the British cavalry. Although he had no choice but to flee, his political enemies later pointed to this inglorious incident as evidence of cowardice. Jefferson declined to seek a third term as governor and stepped down on June 4, 1781. Claiming that he was giving up public life for good, he returned to Monticello, where he intended to live out the rest of his days as a gentleman farmer surrounded by the domestic pleasures of his family, his farm and his books.
To fill his time at home, in late 1781, Jefferson began working on his only full-length book, the modestly titled Notes on the State of Virginia. While the book's ostensible purpose was to outline the history, culture and geography of Virginia, it also provides a window into Jefferson's political philosophy and worldview. Contained in Notes on the State of Virginia is Jefferson's vision of the good society he hoped America would become: a virtuous agricultural republic, based on the values of liberty, honesty and simplicity and centered on the self-sufficient yeoman farmer. The book also sheds light on Jefferson's contradictory, controversial and much-debated views on race and slavery. Jefferson owned slaves through his entire life, and his very existence as a gentleman farmer depended on the institution of slavery.
Like most white Americans of that time, Jefferson held views we would now describe as nakedly racist: He believed that blacks were innately inferior to whites in terms of both mental and physical capacity. Nevertheless, he claimed to abhor slavery as a violation of the natural rights of man.
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They are American icons—they're on our dollars and coins, they are the subject of our monuments, and we live our daily lives in the world their ideas helped create. America's "Founding Fathers" include George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and of course, Benjamin Franklin. These men, together with several other key players of their time, structured the American democracy and left a legacy that has shaped the world. But beyond their legends, these men were human beings who led complex and fascinating lives. Learning their stories helps us better understand what made them tick, as well as their influence on our world today.
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