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Thomas Jeffeson
— 3rdPresident of the United States —

View full portraits at:
National Portrait Gallery or the White House Presidential Portrait Gallery

 

ELECTED FROM: Virginia
POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic-Republican
TERM:March 4, 1801 to March 3, 1809

BORN:April 13, 1743
BIRTHPLACE:Shadwell, Virginia
DIED:July 4, 1826, Monticello, Virginia
OCCUPATION:Lawyer, farmer
MARRIED:Martha Wayles Skelton, 1772
CHILDREN:Mary, Martha

Being third seemed to suit Thomas Jefferson well. Not only was he the third president, but he was also the third child in his family. He had two older sisters. In his third year of life, three more children were added to his family. The parents of these children died, and Thomas Jefferson's parents adopted them. So, the big family moved from their plantation in Shadwell, Virginia to a large plantation called Tuckahoe, also in Virginia. Since there were so many children in his family, Thomas Jefferson's parents hired a teacher who taught the children right in their own home.

As a youngster, Jefferson's father taught him reading, writing, and arithmetic as well as music and the art of drafting. But most important were these ten golden rules:

1. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.
2. Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
3. Never spend your money before you have it.
4. Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap.
5. Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
6. We never repent for having eaten too little.
7. Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8. How much pain have the evils that never happened cost us!
9. Take things always by their smooth handle.
10. When angry, count to ten before you speak; if very angry, one hundred

Armed with these thoughts, young Thomas Jefferson lived a life that was a model for future generations. Jefferson believed a person should never be idle. As a result, he became a scientist, diplomat, architect, philosopher, farmer, educator, inventor, and ultimately president. But Jefferson was most famous for these written words from the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness . . ."These words are the foundation of the United States of America. By 1776, when he was asked to lead the committee that would create the Declaration of Independence, he had been Governor of Virginia, a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, and a member of the Continental Congress. As governor of Virginia, he established religious liberty, free education, the University of Virginia, and public libraries. The architecture of the buildings at the university reflect the influence of the Classic style of architecture Jefferson employed when he built his home at Monticello.

In 1789, George Washington named Thomas Jefferson Secretary of State. In 1796, he ran for president and finished second to John Adams. He was then named vice president. Finally in 1800, he won election as President of the United States. During his presidency, the size of the United States more than doubled because President Jefferson made a deal with the French in 1803 to purchase the Louisiana Territory. This was called the Louisiana Purchase. He also established the Illinois Territory, commissioned the Lewis and Clark expedition, and created the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Jefferson is remembered as an author of the Declaration of Independence, for establishing religious freedom in Virginia, and for being the father of the University of Virginia. Jefferson never stopped creating until he died on July 4, 1826, the same day as his friend John Adams, the second president.


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