- 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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A Frenchman, Marquis de Chastellux, remarked, "it may be said that Mr. Jefferson is the first American who has consulted the Fine Arts to know how he should shelter himself from the weather."
Jefferson also dedicated his later years to organizing the University of Virginia, the nation's first secular university. He personally designed the campus, envisioned as an "academical village,
" and hand-selected renowned European scholars to serve as its professors. The University of Virginia opened its doors on March 7, 1825, one of the proudest days of Jefferson's life.
Jefferson also kept up an outpouring of correspondence at the end of his life. In particular, he rekindled a lively correspondence on politics, philosophy and literature with John Adams that stands out among the most extraordinary exchanges of letters in history. Nevertheless, Jefferson's retirement was marred by financial woes. To pay off the substantial debts he incurred over decades of living beyond his means, Jefferson resorted to selling his cherished personal library to the national government to serve as the foundation of the Library of Congress.
Jefferson died on July 4, 1826 -- the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence -- only a few hours before John Adams also passed away in Massachusetts. In the moments before he passed, John Adams spoke his last words, eternally true if not in the literal sense in which he meant them, "Thomas Jefferson survives."
As the author the Declaration of Independence, the foundational text of American democracy and one of the most important documents in world history, Thomas Jefferson will be forever revered as one of the great American Founding Fathers. However, Jefferson was also a man of many contradictions.
Jefferson was the spokesman of liberty and a racist slave owner, the champion of the common people and a man with luxurious and aristocratic tastes, a believer in limited government and a president who expanded governmental authority beyond the wildest visions of his predecessors, a quiet man who abhorred politics and the most dominant political figure of his generation. The tensions between Jefferson's principles and practices make him all the more apt a symbol for the nation he helped create, a nation whose shining ideals have always been complicated by a complex history.
Jefferson is buried in the family cemetery at Monticello, in a grave marked by a plain gray tombstone. The brief inscription it bears, written by Jefferson himself, is as noteworthy for what it excludes as what it includes. The inscription suggests Jefferson's humility as well as his belief that his greatest gifts to posterity came in the realm of ideas rather than the realm of politics: "Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and father of the University Of Virgina."
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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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