- 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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On January 5, 1794, frustrated by the endless conflicts, Jefferson resigned as secretary of state, once again abandoning politics in favor of his family and farm at Monticello.
At home, Jefferson spent his time farming, managing his finances and making improvements to the estate. It was also at this time that Jefferson most likely had an affair with a slave named Sally Hemings. Light-skinned and beautiful, Sally Hemings was in fact Martha Jefferson's half-sister. Sally's mother, Betty Hemings, was a slave owned by Jefferson's father-in-law, John Wayles, who was the father of Betty's daughter Sally. While there is no definitive proof that Thomas Jefferson had children with Sally Hemings, the circumstantial evidence is all but conclusive: Jefferson was with Sally (either in France or at Monticello) nine months before the birth of all six of her children.
Furthermore, historical records corroborate the stories passed down orally through the Hemings family. Most compelling is recently produced DNA evidence showing that some male member of the Jefferson family fathered Hemings's children, and that it was not Samuel or Peter Carr, the only two of Jefferson's male relatives in the vicinity at the relevant times. It is therefore overwhelmingly likely, if not absolutely certain, that Thomas Jefferson fathered Sally Hemings's children.
In 1797, despite Jefferson's public ambivalence and previous claims that he was through with politics, the Republicans selected Jefferson as their candidate to succeed Washington as president. In those days, candidates did not campaign for office openly, so Jefferson did little more than remain at home on the way to finishing a close second to then-Vice President John Adams in the electoral college, which, by the rules of the time, made Jefferson the new vice president. Besides presiding over the Senate, the vice president had essentially no substantive role in government. The long friendship between Adams and Jefferson had cooled due to political differences (Adams was a Federalist), and Adams did not consult his vice president on any important decisions.
To occupy his time during his four years as vice president, Jefferson authored "A Manual of Parliamentary Practice," one of the most useful guides to legislative proceedings ever written, and served as the president of the American Philosophical Society.
John Adams's presidency revealed deep fissures in the Federalist Party between moderates such as Adams and Washington and more extreme Federalists like Hamilton. In the presidential election of 1800, Hamiltonian Federalists refused to back Adams, clearing the way for the Republican candidates Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr to tie for first place with 73 electoral votes each. After a long and contentious debate, the House of Representatives selected Jefferson to serve as the third U.S. president, with Burr as his vice president.
The election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800 was a landmark of world history, the first peacetime transfer of power from one party to another in a modern republic.
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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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