|Image Credit – Gilbert Stuart – Public Domain – via Wikimedia Commons|
The Birth of Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was born in Albemarle County, Virginia on April 13, 1743 to Peter Jefferson and Jane Randolph Jefferson. Peter Jefferson was a surveyor and planter while his wife Jane was a member of one of the most distinguished families in Virginia. Thomas Jefferson attended the College of William and Mary. He practiced law and served as a county lieutenant, a magistrate and also as a member of the House of Burgesses. Jefferson inherited a great deal of land from his father and at the age of twenty six, he began building his estate known as Monticello. He married a widow by the name of Martha Wales Skelton in 1772. Together, they had six children but only two survived beyond infancy and childhood. Martha Wales Skelton Jefferson died only ten years after her marriage to Thomas. Jefferson never remarried.
Young Adulthood and Political Life
Thomas Jefferson served in the United States Continental Congress in 1776. Jefferson, being a quiet man, was not known for his public speaking skills, but rather his ability to write. Jefferson is credited for drafting the Declaration of Independence at the age of thirty three. He is also noted for writing a bill which established religious freedom in 1786.
In 1790, Jefferson served as Secretary of State under President Washington. He sympathized with the French during the French Revolution which caused conflict between himself and Alexander Hamilton, a Federalist who supported British policies. Jefferson resigned his position in 1793.
As two separate parties, the Federalist and the Democratic-Republicans, emerged within the United States, Thomas Jefferson, being a “champion for state’s rights” and supporting the French Revolution, assumed leadership in the Democratic-Republican party. In the election of 1796, he lost the Presidency to John Adams, but became Vice President. Four years later, Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams and became President of the United States. He served as President from 1801 – 1809.
Under Jefferson’s leadership, the United States purchased the LouisianaTerritory in 1803. Thomas Jefferson unsuccessfully strived to maintain peace between Britain and France, but was unable to stop the war of 1812.
In 1809, James Madison, a friend of Thomas Jefferson, succeeded Jefferson for the Presidency.
Thomas Jefferson’s Last Years
Thomas Jefferson spent the rest of this life at his home in Monticello. One of his last acts was founding the University of Virginia.
On July 4, 1826, the fifth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson died at the age of 83. John Adams died on the same days, just hours after Jefferson.
Jefferson wrote the inscription for his own tombstone. It reads, “Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.”
Famous Quotes from Thomas Jefferson
“Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our government.”
“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing. “