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Thomas Jefferson
Third President of the United States

1743 - 1826

[The people] are in truth the only legitimate
   proprietors of the soil and government.

                                                            —Thomas Jefferson



Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 at Shadwell in Albemarle county, Virginia. He had inherited a considerable landed estate from his father, and doubled it by a happy marriage on Jan. 1, 1772, to Martha Wayles Skelton. He was elected to the House of Burgesses when he was 25.

As a member of the Continental Congress in 1776, Jefferson was chosen together with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingstone and Roger Sherman to draft the Declaration of Independence. He wrote the declaration himself and was amended by Adams and Franklin.

In 1784 Jefferson became, first, a commissioner to negotiate commercial treaties, and then, Benjamin Franklin's successor as minister to France. Toward the end of his mission he reported the unfolding revolution. Eventually he was repelled by the excesses of the French Revolution. He thoroughly disapproved France's imperialistic phase under Napoleon Bonaparte. Because of his absence in Europe, Jefferson had no direct part in the framing or ratification of the Constitution of the United States.

The most notable achievement of Jefferson's first term as President (1800) was the purchase in 1803 of Louisiana from France for 15 million dollars. (see Lewis and Clark). During his second term Jefferson encountered greater difficulties. One of the domestic problems was the Burr Conspiracy, with the former vice president Aaron Burr on trial for treason.

Jefferson was succeeded as president in 1809 by James Madison. During the last 17 years of his life, Jefferson remained in Virginia. As the 'Sage of Monticello' he engaged in a rich correspondence with John Adams and others. Jefferson's last great public service was the founding of the University of Virginia in 1819. He died at Monticello on July 4, 1826 on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

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  Resources

•  Other United States Founding Fathers in the Lucidcafé Library
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•  Books About Jefferson
•  Videos About Jefferson
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•  Related Websites
•  Jefferson eTexts

     

  Other United States Founding Fathers in the Lucidcafé Library



  Other American Presidents in the Lucidcafé Library



  Books About Thomas Jefferson

  • Thomas Jefferson: A Life - Author: Willard Sterne Randall

    This gracefully rendered portrait offers stories from Jefferson's youth in colonial Virginia to his tragic final days at Monticello. Throughout the narrative, Randall shows Jefferson to be a dynamic and thoroughly modern man, who committed himself to a search for a meaningful, authentic way of life. Publishers Weekly hailed this stirring biography as "a masterful . . . portrait that brings us closer to Jefferson than any previous biography."

    Click here to purchase this paperback edition of "Thomas Jefferson: A Life"


  • The Inner Jefferson: Portrait of a Grieving Optimist - Author: Andrew Burstein

    Burstein unlocks Jefferson's struggle between head and heart "Burstein's main contribution to the popular understanding of Thomas Jefferson lies in his revelation of the extent to which passion ruled the man's life....Andrew Burstein's book makes clear how deeply [Jefferson's] public accomplishments stood rooted in his private self." --The Washington Post Book World. 356 pages.

    Click here to purchase this hardcover edition of "The Inner Jefferson"


  • American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson - Author: Joseph J. Ellis

    A serious yet entertaining analysis of American Founding Father and third president, Thomas Jefferson. Joseph J. Ellis, though a professor of history, steers clear of academic posturing, providing the facts in this keen, compelling look at the various components of Jefferson the thinker, the politician, and the private man. "American Sphinx" abstains from Jefferson worship or bashing, and reveals the multiple voices of Jefferson's brilliant political career. First Edition, 365 pages.

    Click here to purchase this hardcover edition of "American Sphinx"


  • The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution, 1785-1800 - Author: Conor Cruise O'Brien

    Conor Cruise O'Brien's examines Jefferson as man and icon through the critical lens of the French Revolution. This provocative analysis will challenge our traditional perceptions of the Jeffersonian legacy. O'Brien contends Jefferson was no liberal; indeed he regards the right-wing militias as the true heirs to Jefferson's spirit. For O'Brien the American revolution is a glorious achievement, but Jefferson is demoted to a mere "draughtsman" of the Declaration.

    Click here to purchase this paperback edition of "The Long Affair"


  • Sworn on the Altar of God: A Religious Biography of Thomas Jefferson - Author: Edwin S. Gaustad

    This is a scholarly but very readable analysis of the personal theology of Thomas Jefferson. It details his personal beliefs which were surprisingly radical and his continual resistance to the establishment of a state religion in the young United States of America. Outlines the foundational ideas that influenced the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Definitely Jefferson would not agree that the USA was founded as a Christian nation.

    Click here to purchase this paperback edition of "Sworn on the Altar of God"


  • The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson - Author: Adrienne Koch/William Peden, Editor

    The architect of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the U.S., Thomas Jefferson provided a rich treasure house of historical information in his journals, addresses, and letters. This distinguished selection of his writings is now available in trade paper. 691 pages.

    Click here to purchase this paperback edition of "The Life and Selected Writings"


  • The Republic of Letters: The Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison 1776-1826 - Author: James Morton Smith

    This is a beautiful edition of the complete correspondence between the "author" of the Declaration of Independence and the "father" of the US Constitution. Introductory chapters set the stage for the exchange of letters by placing the characters, concepts, and events being discussed into a wider historical context. Each chronologically-arranged chapter includes an introduction with annotations explaining obscure references or cite sources. Boxed

    Click here to purchase this boxed, hardcover edition of "The Republic of Letters"


  • Jefferson and Monticello: The Biography of a Builder - Author: Jack McLaughlin

    This National Book Award nominee in 1988, is the life of Thomas Jefferson as seen through the prism of his love affair with Monticello. With a sure command of sources and skilled intuitive understanding of Jefferson, McLaughlin crafts and uncommon portrait of this exceptional man--and of daily life in Colonial and Federal America. Line drawings and black-and-white photographs.

    Click here to purchase this paperback edition of "Jefferson and Monticello"


  Videos About Thomas Jefferson



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Copyright © 1995-2014 Robin Chew
Article written by Robin Chew - April 1996