Thomas Jefferson 1
- Born: 2 Apr 1743, Shadwell, Goochland, Albermarle, Virginia
- Marriage (1): Martha Wayles on 1 Jan 1772
- Died: 4 Jul 1826, Monticello, Albemarle, Virginia at age 83
- Buried: Jul 1826, Monticello, Albemarle, Virginia
Third President of the United States of America.
Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 N.S. July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (18011809), principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential founders of the United States. Major events during his presidency include the Louisiana Purchase (1803), the Embargo Act of 1807, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition (18041806).
A political philosopher who promoted classical liberalism, republicanism, and the separation of church and state, he was the author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779, 1786), which was the basis of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. He was the eponym of Jeffersonian democracy and the founder and leader of the Democratic-Republican Party which dominated American politics for over a quarter-century and was the precursor to today's Democratic Party. Jefferson also served as the second Governor of Virginia (17791781), first United States Secretary of State (17891793), and second Vice President (17971801).
In addition to his political career, Jefferson was also an agriculturalist, horticulturist, architect, etymologist, archaeologist, mathematician, cryptographer, surveyor, paleontologist, author, lawyer, inventor, violinist, and the founder of the University of Virginia. Many people consider Jefferson to be among the most brilliant men ever to occupy the Presidency. President John F. Kennedy welcomed forty-nine Nobel Prize winners to the White House in 1962, saying, "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."
Early life and education
Jefferson was born on April 2, 1743 according to the Julian calendar ("old style") used at the time, but under the Gregorian calendar ("new style") adopted during his lifetime, he was born on April 13.
Jefferson was born into a prosperous Virginia family. Third of ten children (two of them were stillborn), his father was Peter Jefferson, a planter and surveyor who owned a plantation in Albemarle County called Shadwell. His mother was Jane Randolph a cousin of Peyton Randolph. Both parents were from families that had been settled in Virginia for several generations.
In 1752, Jefferson began attending a local school run by William Douglas, a Scottish reverend. In 1757, when Jefferson was 14 years old, his father died. Jefferson inherited about 5,000 acres (20 km²) of land and dozens of slaves, out of which he created his home which would eventually be known as Monticello.
After his father's death, he was taught at the school of the learned James Maury, a reverend, from 1758 to 1760. The school was in Fredericksburg parish, twelve miles from Shadwell, and Jefferson boarded with Maury's family. There he received a classical education and studied history and natural science. At the age of nine, Jefferson began studying the classical languages of Latin and Greek as well as French.
Jefferson entered the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg at the age of 16 and spent two years there, from 1760 to 1762. There Jefferson studied mathematics, metaphysics, and philosophy under professor William Small, who introduced the enthusiastic Jefferson to the writings of British Empiricists, including John Locke, Francis Bacon, and Sir Isaac Newton (Jefferson would later refer to them as the "three greatest men the world had ever produced" ). At William and Mary, he reportedly studied 15 hours a day, perfected French, carried his Greek grammar book wherever he went, practiced the violin, and favored Tacitus and Homer.
In college, Jefferson was a member of the secret Flat Hat Club, now the namesake of the William & Mary daily student newspaper. After graduating in 1762 with highest honors, Jefferson studied law with his friend and mentor, George Wythe, and was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1767.
In 1772 he married a widow, Martha Wayles Skelton (1748-82). They had six children: Martha Jefferson Randolph (1772-1836), Jane Randolph (1774-1775), unnamed son (1777-1777), Mary Wayles (1778-1804), Lucy Elizabeth (1780-1781), and Lucy Elizabeth (1782-1785). Martha Wayles Skelton died September 6, 1782, and Thomas Jefferson never remarried.
Political career from 1774 to 1800
Jefferson practiced law and served in the Virginia House of Burgesses. In 1774, he wrote A Summary View of the Rights of British America which was intended as instructions for the Virginia delegates to a national congress. The pamphlet was a powerful argument of American terms for a settlement with Britain, helped speed the way to independence, and marked Jefferson as one of the most thoughtful patriot spokesmen.
Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, and a source of many other contributions to American political and civil culture. The Continental Congress delegated the task of writing the Declaration to a committee that unanimously solicited Jefferson to prepare the draft of the Declaration alone.
In September 1776, Jefferson returned to Virginia and was elected to the new Virginia House of Delegates. During his term in the House, Jefferson set out to reform and update Virginia's system of laws to reflect its new status as a democratic state. He drafted 126 bills in three years, including laws to abolish primogeniture, establish freedom of religion, and streamline the judicial system. In 1778, Jefferson's "Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge" led to several academic reforms at his alma mater, including an elective system of study the first in an American university.
Jefferson served as governor of Virginia from 1779-1781. As Governor, he oversaw the transfer of the state capitol from Williamsburg to Richmond in 1780. He continued to advocate educational reforms at the College of William and Mary, including the nation's first student-policed honor code. In 1779, at Jefferson's behest, William and Mary appointed George Wythe to be the first Professor of Law in an American university. Dissatisfied with the rate of changes he wanted to push through, he would go on later in life to become the "father" and founder of the first university at which higher education was completely separate from religious doctrine, the University of Virginia.
Virginia was invaded twice by the British during Jefferson's term as governor. He was almost captured by a British calvary column raiding Charlottesville, but he managed to escape. Public outrage nearly ruined his future political prospects but waned after the siege of Yorktown.
From 17851789, Jefferson served as minister to France. He did not attend the Constitutional Convention. He did generally support the new Constitution, although he thought the document flawed for lack of a Bill of Rights.
After returning from France, Jefferson served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington (17891793). Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton began sparring over national fiscal policy, specifically deficit spending in 1790. In further sparring with the Federalists, Jefferson came to equate Hamilton and the rest of the extreme Federalist as Tories. In the late 1790's he worried that "Hamiltonianism" was taking hold. He equated this with "Royalism", and made a point to state that "Hamiltonians were panting after...and itching for crowns, coronets and mitres". Jefferson and James Madison founded and led the original Democratic-Republican Party (then called the "Republican Party" and what some consider to be the precursor of the modern Democratic Party). He worked with Madison and his campaign manager John J. Beckley to build what historians call the First Party System. Jefferson strongly supported France against Britain when war broke out between those powerful nations in 1793. However, when the Jay Treaty proved that Washington and Hamilton supported Britain, Jefferson retired to Monticello. He was later elected Vice President (17971801)
With a Quasi-War with France underway (that is, an undeclared naval war), the Federalists under John Adams started a navy, built up the army, levied new taxes, readied for war and also enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. Jefferson interpreted the Alien and Sedition Acts as an attack on his party more than on dangerous enemy aliens. He and Madison rallied support by anonymously writing the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions that declared that the Constitution only established an agreement between the central government and the states and that the federal government had no right to exercise powers not specifically delegated to it. Should the federal government assume such powers, its acts under them could be voided by a state. The Resolutions' importance lies in being the first statements of the states' rights theory that led to the later concepts of nullification and interposition.
Working closely with Aaron Burr of New York, Jefferson rallied his party, attacking the new taxes especially, and ran for the Presidency in 1800. Federalists counterattacked Jefferson, a Deist, as an atheist and enemy of Christianity. He tied with Burr for first place in the Electoral College, leaving the House of Representatives (where the Federalists still had some power) to decide the election.
After lengthy debate within the Federalist-controlled House, Hamilton convinced his party that Jefferson would be a lesser political evil than Burr and that such scandal within the electoral process would undermine the still-young regime. The issue was resolved by the House, on February 17, 1801, when Jefferson was elected President and Burr Vice President.
Jefferson's Presidency, from 1801 to 1809, was the first to start and end in the White House; it was also the first Democratic-Republican Presidency. Jefferson is the only Vice President to later win an election and serve two full terms as President of the United States.
Jefferson's term was marked by his belief in agrarianism, individual liberty, and limited government, sparking the development of a distinct American identity defined by republicanism. During this term, Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase and commissioned the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Jefferson was re-elected in the 1804 election. His second term was dominated by foreign policy concerns, as American neutrality was imperiled by war between Britain and France.
Jefferson was a strict constructionist who compromised on his original principles during his Presidency. He strayed from the principles of keeping a small navy, agrarian economy, strict constructionism, and a small/weak government. A group called the tertium quids criticised Jefferson for his abandonment of his early principles.
Thomas married Martha Wayles on 1 Jan 1772. (Martha Wayles was born on 19 Oct 1748 and died on 6 Sep 1782.)