Thomas Jefferson Biography

(3rd President of the United States)

Birthday: April 13, 1743 (Aries)

Born In: Shadwell, Virginia, United States

Thomas Jefferson was a major political leader and the third president of the United States, serving from 1801 to 1809. He was also a co-founder and leader of the ‘Democratic Republic Party.’ From 1779 to 1781, he served as the wartime governor of Virginia. He also wrote the ‘Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom,’ a statute that was enacted by the ‘Virginia General Assembly’ into the state's law in 1786. Before he was elected to the presidency, he was appointed as the first United States secretary of state during 1789-1793 and was the second vice-president of America, serving from 1797 to 1801. In 1776, he became the main author of the ‘Declaration of Independence,’ and received appreciation for his role in promoting republicanism in the United States. While in power, Jefferson fiercely supported the idea of democracy and favored states’ rights, which he considered virtues of republicanism. A man of many talents, Thomas Jefferson explored many interests and found success as a horticulturist, statesman, architect, archaeologist, inventor, and founder of the ‘University of Virginia.’

Quick Facts

Also Known As: President Jefferson, T. Jefferson

Died At Age: 83


Spouse/Ex-: Martha Jefferson (m. 1772–1782)

father: Peter Jefferson

mother: Jane Randolph

siblings: Anna Scott Jefferson Marks, Elizabeth Jefferson, Jane Jefferson, Lucy Jefferson Lewis, Martha Jefferson Carr, Mary Jefferson Bolling, Peter Field Jefferson, Peter Thomas Jefferson, Randolph, Randolph Jefferson, Thomas Mann Randolph Sr

children: Eston Hemings, Harriet Hemings, Jane Jefferson, Lucy Elizabeth Jefferson, Lucy Elizabeth Jefferson I, Madison Hemings, Martha Jefferson Randolph, Mary Jefferson Eppes, Peter Jefferson Thomas Jefferson

Born Country: United States

Quotes By Thomas Jefferson Lawyers

Died on: July 4, 1826

place of death: Monticello, Virginia, United States

U.S. State: Virginia

Notable Alumni: College Of William & Mary

Ancestry: British American

Founder/Co-Founder: University of Virginia

More Facts

education: College Of William & Mary

  • 1

    What were Thomas Jefferson's major contributions to the United States?

    Thomas Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, advocated for religious freedom, and doubled the size of the United States through the Louisiana Purchase.

  • 2

    What were Thomas Jefferson's views on slavery and how did they impact his political career?

    Thomas Jefferson owned slaves but also spoke out against slavery, questioning its morality. His conflicting views on slavery caused controversy during his presidency and beyond.

  • 3

    How did Thomas Jefferson's presidency impact the United States?

    Thomas Jefferson's presidency was marked by the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the Embargo Act of 1807. He also worked to expand education and reduce national debt.

  • 4

    What were Thomas Jefferson's political beliefs and affiliations?

    Thomas Jefferson was a Democratic-Republican and believed in limited government, states' rights, and agrarianism. He was a strong advocate for individual liberties and a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

  • 5

    How did Thomas Jefferson's background as a farmer influence his political views?

    Thomas Jefferson's upbringing as a farmer shaped his belief in the importance of agriculture, rural life, and self-sufficiency. These views influenced his policies on land ownership, economic development, and trade.

Childhood & Education

Born on 13 April 1743 in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson was the third of ten children born to Peter Jefferson and Jane Randolph. His father, who was of Welsh descent, was a surveyor and worked as a planter. In 1745, his family moved to Tuckahoe and lived there for seven years before returning to their home in Albemarle County after his father was appointed to the colonelcy of the county. Jefferson’s education began in 1752 at a school run by William Douglas, who was a Scottish minister. From the time he was nine, Jefferson became an avid learner of Greek, French, and Latin. His father died in 1757, making Thomas Jefferson the heir to his assets and a number of slaves.

From 1758 to 1760, Jefferson was taught by Reverend James Maury in Virginia where he received classical education and studied science and history. In 1760, he enrolled at ‘The College of William & Mary’ in Williamsburg where he studied mathematics, metaphysics, and philosophy, graduating with supreme honors in 1762. As a keen student, Jefferson took an interest in learning different languages. As a student, he studied for 15 hours a day. Thomas also learned to play the violin and took a keen interest in the arts. After graduating, he studied law with George Wythe and began practicing law at the Virginia bar in 1767. From 1768 to 1773, he handled a number of cases and established himself as a reputed lawyer.

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Marriage & Children

Thomas Jefferson married a young widow named Martha Wayles Skelton in 1772 and the couple had six children: Martha Jefferson Randolph, Jane Randolph, Mary Wayles, Lucy Elizabeth, and Elizabeth. Martha gave birth to a stillborn son in 1777. She died on 6 September 1782.

Early Political Life

Jefferson was appointed as a delegate to the ‘Second Continental Congress’ in 1775. With the beginning of the American Revolution of Independence in 1776, he served as a member of a committee that was responsible for preparing the Declaration of Independence resolution. The draft was presented to Congress on 2 July and on 4 July 1776 the wording of the ‘Declaration of Independence’ was approved, making Jefferson a popular person in the country.

In 1776, Jefferson was elected to the new ‘Virginia House of Delegates.’ As a delegate, he instigated a series of reforms and bills to expose Virginia’s new status as a democratic state. Among his series of reforms, the most prominent were the laws to end primogeniture and establish freedom of religion in the state. Jefferson further produced a bill on ‘General Diffusion of Knowledge’ in 1778, which resulted in the establishment of an elective system of study in the ‘College of William and Mary.’ He proposed bills to eliminate death as a penalty, except in cases of murder and treason. However, his efforts did not yield results as crimes, such as rape remained punishable to death for a long time after the proposal of Jefferson’s bills with regard to capital punishment.

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Governor of Virginia

Jefferson became the governor of Virginia in 1779 and remained in this position until 1781. It was during his tenure as the governor that the capital of Virginia was transferred from Williamsburg to Richmond in 1780. His constant efforts in the field of education were recognized in 1779 when George Wythe was appointed as the first professor of law at the ‘College of Williams and Mary.’ Jefferson’s governorship was marred by two British invasions which ruined his reputation as governor and he never won any election in Virginia thereafter. Jefferson served as minister to France from 1785 to 1789 and supported France against Britain when war was declared between these two countries in 1793.

Secretary State of the U.S

Jefferson became the first secretary of state in 1790, under the presidency of George Washington. As a secretary of state, he spoke against widespread Federalism in the U.S. and continued to view it as a threat to Republicanism. Along with James Madison, he co-founded and led the ‘Democratic-Republican Party’ and formulated a set of connections with Republican allies to fight the Federalists across the country.

Vice-Presidency & Presidency

After a failed bid for vice presidency in 1796, Jefferson became vice-president of the United States in 1797. Federalists, who were preparing for war with France, passed the ‘Alien and Sedition Acts’ in 1798 as a source of earning money through taxes. Jefferson harshly criticized these tactics and intensified his attack on Federalism, as he believed that Federalists had no right to exercise such power.

Thomas Jefferson ran for the presidency for the first time in 1800. Though he did not campaign for his party, in accordance with the tradition at the time, he became the president of the United States in a landslide victory on 17 February 1801.

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During his tenure as the president, he fought the ‘Barbary War,’ safeguarding the US Coast from pirates, and acquired Louisiana from France. Subsequently, he won a second term in office in the 1804 presidential elections.

Life after Presidency

Thomas Jefferson remained active in American politics and participated enthusiastically in educational and cultural organizations. Education remained his prime concern throughout his life, and he took measures to promote higher education among people. His efforts finally fructified in 1819 when the ‘University of Virginia’ was founded. ‘The University of Virginia,’ which was the first university to offer a complete array of elective courses, was opened in 1825.

Jefferson is also known for his love for architecture and archeology, a subject that was still developing at the time. He contributed to the architectural planning of the ‘University of Virginia’ which became an embodiment of science and beauty with its planned site surrounding the lawn and linking arcades. The university, which is constructed in Greek and Roman style, represents the unique architecture and intellectual ideas of Thomas Jefferson, who became known as the father of the university.

In 1780, Jefferson became a member of ‘Benjamin Franklin’s American Philosophical Society’ and served as its president from 1797 to 1815. An avid wine lover, Jefferson traveled to France and other European countries in order to add to his collection of famous wines. In 1801, he published ‘A Manual of Parliamentary Practice’ whose second edition came out in 1812. After the ‘Library of Congress’ was burnt down by the British in 1814, Jefferson’s huge collection of books became a part of the new library, which is named after him in his honor.

Facts About Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was a skilled inventor and designed various gadgets, including a revolving bookstand that allowed him to read multiple books at once.
Jefferson was an avid wine enthusiast and had a deep appreciation for French wines, even attempting to cultivate his own vineyards at Monticello.
Jefferson was known for his love of gardening and introduced various plant species to the United States, including the popular vegetable, the tomato.
Jefferson was a polyglot and could fluently speak and read multiple languages, such as French, Italian, Latin, and Greek.
Jefferson was a passionate collector of books and had one of the largest personal libraries of his time, which later formed the foundation of the Library of Congress.

Thomas Jefferson died on 4 July 1826, a date which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the ‘Declaration of Independence.’ After his death, his assets were sold off in an auction to pay his huge debt. His mortal remains were buried at ‘Monticello,’ a home which he had built in his youth in Virginia.

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