- 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.
Thomas Jefferson was was a draftsman of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the nation's first secretary of state, second vice president and third president. As President, he was 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.
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He saw the eventual solution of America's race problem as the abolition of slavery followed by the exile of former slaves to either Africa or Haiti, because, he believed, former slaves could not live peacefully alongside their former masters. As Jefferson wrote, "We have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other."
Thomas Jefferson was spurred back into public life by private tragedy: the death of his beloved wife, Martha Jefferson, on September 6, 1782, at the age of 34. After months of mourning, in June 1783, Jefferson returned to Philadelphia to lead the Virginia delegation to the Confederation Congress. In 1785, that body appointed Jefferson to replace Benjamin Franklin as U.S. minister to France. Although Jefferson appreciated much about European culture -- its arts, architecture, literature, food and wines -- he found the juxtaposition of the aristocracy's grandeur and the masses' poverty repellant. "I find the general fate of humanity here, most deplorable," he wrote in one letter.
In Europe, Jefferson rekindled his friendship with John Adams, who served as minister to Great Britain, and Adams's wife, Abigail. The brilliant Abigail Adams, with whom Jefferson maintained a lengthy correspondence on a wide variety of subjects, was perhaps the only woman he ever treated as an intellectual equal. Jefferson's official duties as minister consisted primarily of negotiating loans and trade agreements with private citizens and government officials in Paris and Amsterdam.
After nearly five years in Paris, Jefferson returned to America at the end of 1789 with a much greater appreciation for his home country. As he wrote to his good friend, James Monroe, "My God! how little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy."
Jefferson arrived in Virginia in November 1789 to find George Washington waiting for him with news that Washington had been elected the first president of the United States of America, and that he was appointing Jefferson as his secretary of state. Besides Jefferson, Washington's most trusted advisor was Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. A dozen years younger than Jefferson, Hamilton was a New Yorker and war hero who, unlike Jefferson and Washington, had risen from humble beginnings.
Incredibly rancorous partisan battles emerged to divide the new American government during Washington's presidency. On one side, the Federalists, led by Hamilton, advocated for a strong national government, broad interpretation of the constitution and neutrality in European affairs. On the other side, the Republicans, led by Jefferson, promoted the supremacy of state governments, a strict constructionist interpretation of the constitution and support for the French revolution.
Washington's two most trusted advisors thus provided nearly opposite advice on the most pressing issues of the day: the creation of a national bank, the appointment of federal judges and the official posture toward France.
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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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