Was an American Founding Father who was the principal author of the Declaration of the Independence and later served as the third President of the United States from 1801 to 1809. Previously, he was elected the second Vice President of the United States serving under John Adams from 1797 to 1801. A proponent of democracy republicanism, and individual rights motivating American colonists to break from a new nation, he produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national level. He was land owner and farmer.
Jefferson’s interests and talents covered an amazing large. He became one of the leading American architects of his time and designed the Virginia Capitol, the University of Virginia, and designed his own home, Monticello. He greatly appreciated art and music and tried to encourage their advancement in the United States. He arranged for the famous French sculptor Jean Houdon to come to America to make a statue of George Washington. He also posed for Houdon and for the famous American portrait painter Gilbert Stuart. Enjoyed playing the violin in Chamber music concerts. In addition, Jefferson served as president of the American Philosophical Society, an organization that encouraged a wide range of scientific and intellectual research. Jefferson invented a decoding device, a lap desk, and an improved type of mold bound plow. His collection of more than 6,400 books became a major part of the Library of Congress. Jefferson revised Virginia’s laws and founded its state university. He developed the decimal system of coinage that allows Americans to keep accounts in dollars and cents. He compiled a Manual of India languages. Jefferson also cultivated use of the finest gardens in American.
He didn’t consider himself a professional politician. Instead, he regarded himself as a public-spirited citizen and a broad-minded, practical thinker. He preferred his family, his books, and his farms to public life. But he spent most of his career in public office and made his greatest contribution to his country in the field of politics. He believed that “Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God”. His ideal society was a nation of landowning farmers living under as little government as possible. The term Jeffersonian democracy refers to such an ideal and was based on Jefferson’s faith in self-government. He trusted the majority of people to govern themselves and wanted to keep the government simple and free of waste. Jefferson loved liberty in every form, and wanted for freedom of speech, press, religion, and other civil liberties. Jefferson strongly supported the addition of the Bill of Right to the Constitution of the United States. He molded the American spirit and mind. Every later generation has turned to him for inspiration. Through about 40 years of public service, he remained faithful to his vow to eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
During his two terms as President, the US almost doubled in area with the purchase of the vast Louisiana territory. American preserved its hard-won neutrality while France, led by Napoleon’s armies, battled most of Europe. Congress passed a law burning the slave trade. It took travelers two days to go from New York City to Philadelphia by stagecoach. But the first successful famous as the Clermont, signaled a promising new era in the history of transportation.
Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, at Shadwell, the family farm in Goochland County, Virginia (non Albemarle). He was the third child in the family and grew up with six sisters and one brother. Two other brothers died in infancy.
His father, Peter Jefferson, served as surveyor, sheriff, colonel of militia, and member of the House of Burgesses. His mother Jane Randolph Jefferson, came from one of the oldest families in Virginia.
Thomas developed the normal interests of a country boy hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and canoeing. He also learned to play the violin and to love music. Jefferson was 14 when his father died. As the oldest son, he became head of the family. He inherited more than 2,500 acres (1,010 hectares) of land and at least 20 slaves. His guardian, John Harvie, managed the estate until Jefferson was 21.
Jefferson began his studies under a tutor. At the age of 9, he went to live with a Scottish clergyman, who taught him Latin, Greek, and French.
After his father died, he entered the school of James Maury, an Anglican clergyman, near Charlottesville.
In 1760, when he was 16, Jefferson entered the college of William and Mary at Williamsburg. The town had a population of only about 1,000. But as the provincial capital, it had a lively social life.
There, young Jefferson met two men, William Small and Judge George Wythe, who would have a great influence on him.
Small was a professor of mathematics at the college.
Small introduced his eager young disciple to Wythe, one of the most learned lawyers in the province.
Through small and Wythe, Jefferson became friendly with Governor Francis Fauquier and also met Patrick Henry.
Jefferson spent two years at William and Mary. His studies and the companionship of cultured men stimulated his eager mind. He formed May of his ideas about humanity and God. Jefferson had been reared in the Anglican Church, but the developed a distrust of organized religion. His views resembled those of the Unitarians.
After finishing college in 1762, Jefferson studied law with George Wythe. He watched with concern as tension grew between the American Colonies and Great Britain.
In 1765, Jefferson heard Patrick Henry gave his famous speech against the Stamp Act. Jefferson was admitted to the bar in 1767. He practiced law with great success until public service began taking all his time. He divided his time between Williamsburg and Shadwell.
At Shadwell, he designed and supervised the building of his own home, Monticello on a nearby hill.
Virginia’s Piedmont region. The Scotch-Irish and German immigrants of this section had hacked their small farms out of the wilderness. Their ideas conflicted with the aristocratic beliefs of the wealthy landowners of the tidewater region. Jefferson was relied to many Tidewater aristocrats and was accepted in their society. But his political sympathies tended to be clover to those of his Piedmont neighbors.
In 1772, Jefferson married Martha Wayles Skelton (1748-1782), a widow, was a daughter of John Wayles, a prominent lawyer who lived near Williamsburg. According to legend, Jefferson’s love of music helped him win his bride. Two rival suitors came to call one day but left without a world when they saw the couple playing a duet on the harpsichord and violin.
The Jefferson’s settled at Monticello, which wasn’t yet completed. They had one son and five daughters, but only two children lived to maturity Martha (1772-1836), and Mary (1778-1804). His wife died in 1782, after 10 years of marriage before his presidency. He reared his two daughters. He was never remarried.
Jefferson was elected to the House of Burgesses in 1769 and served until 1775. He wasn’t a brilliant speaker but proved himself an able writer of laws and resolutions. Jefferson often showed a talent for clear and simple English that the more experienced legislators quickly recognized.
Jefferson became a member of the group that included Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and Francis Lightfoot Lee. These men challenged the control that Tidewater aristocrats held over Virginia politics.
They also took an active part in the disputes between the colonies and Great Britain. Together with other patriots, they met in the Apollo Room of Williamsburg’s famous Raleigh Tavern in 1769 and formed a nonimportation association against Britain. The group protested the import duties set up by The Townshend Acts.
After a brief, the controversy flared up again in 1774. Jefferson took the lead in organizing another non-importation agreement. He also called for a meeting of all the colonies to consider their grievances. Jefferson was chosen to represent Albemarle County at the First Virginia Convention, which in turn was to elect Virginia delegates to the First Continental Congress. He became ill and couldn’t attend the meeting, but he forwarded a paper giving his views of the crisis.
Jefferson argued that the British Parliament had no control over the American Colonies. He declared that when the original settlers came to America, they had used their “natural rights” to emigrate. Jefferson claimed the Colonies still owed allegiance only to the king, to whom the original settlers had freely chosen to remain royal. Jefferson said the first English settlers in America were like the first Saxons who had settled in England hundreds of years before. The Saxons had come from the area of present day Germany. Jefferson claimed the British Parliament had no more right to govern England. Most Virginians at the convention found Jefferson’s views too extreme. But his views, supported by able legalistic argument, were printed in 1774 in a pamphlet called A Summary View of the Rights of British America.