Thomas Jefferson

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Thomas Jefferson
3rd President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1809
Vice President Aaron Burr; George Clinton
Preceded by John Adams
Succeeded by James Madison
2nd Vice President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801
President John Adams
Preceded by John Adams
Succeeded by Aaron Burr
1st United States Secretary of State
In office
September 26, 1789 – December 31, 1793
President George Washington
Preceded by New Office
Succeeded by Edmund Randolph
Personal details
Born April 13, 1743(1743-04-13)
Shadwell, Virginia, U.S.
Died July 4, 1826(1826-07-04) (aged 83)
Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.
Nationality American
Political party Democratic-Republican
Spouse(s) Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson
Religion Deism[1]
Signature Th: Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States.[2] He wrote the Declaration of Independence while others signed it and wrote the Statute of Religous Freedom.

Early life[change | edit source]

Jefferson, the third of ten children, was born on April 13, 1743 in Shadwell, Virginia into a planter family. His parents were Peter and Jane Jefferson. He had six sisters and three brothers. At 9 years old Jefferson began studying Latin, Greek, and French; he also learned to ride horses, and began to study nature.

At age 16, Jefferson entered the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, and studied mathematics, metaphysics, and philosophy. He also improved his French, Greek, and violin, graduating in 1762 with highest honors. He went on to become a lawyer.

In January 1772, Jefferson married Martha Wayles Skelton, with whom he had 6 children.

Political life[change | edit source]

Jefferson wanted the Thirteen Colonies to be free from Great Britain. Jefferson quickly assumed a leadership rule among like-minded men of his generation. He was a member of the Second Continental Congress. He was chosen to be in the group of officials that wrote the Declaration of Independence and was its main writer.


Jefferson was minister to France from 1785–1789.

Jefferson was selected by George Washington as the first Secretary of State. Jefferson thought that the federal government should be small. He had the opposite view of Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton about the federal government. Together with James Madison in 1792, he founded a party to oppose Hamilton and the Federalist Party. This party was the Democratic-Republican Party. One faction of the party became the modern-day Democratic Party.

Jefferson ran for president against John Adams. He got the second highest number of votes and as was the law at the time, became vice-president.

Presidency[change | edit source]

Jefferson ran again as the Democratic-Republican candidate in 1800 and got a victory. He was elected again in 1804. Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the United States.

Jefferson sent the Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore the land the United States got by the Louisiana Purchase.

Jefferson had to deal with the threat of war during his second term. Great Britain and France were at war for almost all of Jefferson's time as president. Each side did things that could have made the United States enter the war. Jefferson worked to keep the United States out of the war and neutral.

Jefferson passed the Embargo Act of 1807, which made it illegal for the United States to trade with other countries. This upheld Jefferson's isolationist policy, or separation from the rest of the world. This temporarily hurt trade, but in the long run it made American businesses stronger.

Later years[change | edit source]

Jefferson started the University of Virginia.[3]

The British burned Washington D.C. (or the capital building, as it was known,) during the War of 1812. When they did, many books in the Library of Congress were burned. Jefferson sold his own personal library to replace the lost books.

Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, on the 50th anniversary of the day the Declaration of Independence became valid. John Adams also died on the same day as Jefferson. Jefferson is considered one of the greatest U.S. presidents.

Monuments and museums[change | edit source]

There is a Thomas Jefferson Memorial near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Jefferson is one of the four presidents on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Also, visitors can visit his home at the Monticello near Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Jefferson Memorial at dusk

References[change | edit source]

Other websites[change | edit source]