- 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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Delivering his inaugural address on March 4, 1801, Jefferson spoke to the fundamental commonalities uniting all Americans despite their partisan differences. "Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle," he stated. "We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists."
President Jefferson's first term in office was remarkably successful and productive. In keeping with his Republican values,
Jefferson stripped the presidency of all the trappings of European royalty, reduced the size of the armed forces and government bureaucracy and lowered the national debt from $80 million to $57 million in his first two years in office.
Nevertheless, Jefferson's most important achievements as president all involved bold assertions of national government power and surprisingly liberal readings of the constitution. Jefferson's most significant accomplishment as president was the Louisiana Purchase. In 1803, he acquired land stretching from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains from cash-strapped Napoleonic France for the bargain price of $15 million, thereby doubling the size of the nation in a single stroke. He then devised the wonderfully informative Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore, map out and report back on the new American territories.
Jefferson also put an end to the centuries-old problem of Barbary pirates disrupting American shipping in the Mediterranean by forcing the pirates to capitulate by deploying new American warships. Notably, both the Louisiana Purchase and the undeclared war against the Barbary pirates conflicted with Jefferson's much-avowed Republican values. Both actions represented unprecedented expansions of national government power, and neither was explicitly sanctioned by the Constitution.
Although Jefferson easily won re-election in 1804, his second term in office proved much more difficult and less productive than his first. He largely failed in his efforts to impeach the many Federalist judges swept into government by the Judiciary Act of 1801. However, the greatest challenges of Jefferson's second term were posed by the war between Napoleonic France and Great Britain. Both Britain and France attempted to prevent American commerce with the other power by harassing American shipping, and Britain in particular sought to impress American sailors into the British Navy.
In response, Jefferson passed the Embargo Act of 1807, suspending all trade with Europe. The moved wrecked the American economy as exports crashed from $108 million to $22 million by the time he left office in 1809. The embargo also led to the War of 1812 with Great Britain after Jefferson left office.
On March 4, 1809, after watching the inauguration of his close friend and successor James Madison, Jefferson returned to Virginia to live out the rest of his days as "The Sage of Monticello." Jefferson's primary pastime was endlessly rebuilding, remodeling and improving his beloved home and estate.
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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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