3rd President (1801-1809)
Born: April 13, 1743
Died: July 4, 1826
Vice Presidents: Aaron Burr, George Clinton
Political Party: Democratic-Republican
Next President: James Madison
Previous President: John Adams
Thomas Jefferson is universally known as the author of the American Declaration of Independence and one of the
most influential founding fathers in the country’s history. He was born on April 13, 1743 in Shadwell, Virginia to
Peter and Jane Jefferson. It is interesting to note that, unlike many of the founding fathers who cherished their
pasts, Thomas Jefferson was disinterested in his own lineage. He rarely spoke of his parents and the only relative
he ever really publicly acknowledged was his paternal grandfather, but he never indicated his grandfather’s name.
Jefferson’s father died when Thomas Jefferson was 14 years old, but it was not until his sister Jane died 11 years
later that Jefferson was said to be in a state of grieving for a family member.
Thomas Jefferson inherited one-half of a southern estate when his father passed away and became a slave owner.
While Jefferson’s family was not educated, he took to education very quickly and entered the College of William and
Mary at the very young age of 16. He became a lawyer and after getting his practice off the ground, Jefferson
married 23-year-old widow Martha Wayles Skelton. The couple had six children; Martha Washington, Jane, Mary Wayles,
Lucy Elizabeth, a second Lucy Elizabeth that was born after the first Lucy Elizabeth passed away and a stillborn
son that the couple chose not to name.
Jefferson took office as the third president of the United States on March 4, 1801 and served two terms that
lasted until 1809. His first vice president was Aaron Burr. But Burr shot and killed political rival Alexander
Hamilton in a duel and was relieved of his vice presidential duties prior to the 1804 election. Jefferson’s running
mate for his second term was former New York governor George Clinton. Aaron Burr eventually wound up being charged
with treason in 1807 and, even though he was acquitted, was never able to recover his professional status or his
Thomas Jefferson developed a reputation for fathering children with the slaves he had on his property and that
has often clouded his legacy. Jefferson founded the University of Virginia in 1819 and was single-handedly
responsible for making higher education attainable for all American citizens. After his health started to
deteriorate in 1825, Jefferson died on July 4, 1826. For all of his wealth and influence, Jefferson died in debt
and his estate had to be auctioned off to compensate for his losses.
Notable Thomas Jefferson Quotes
"A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just
government should refuse, or rest on inference."
"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."
"Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the
preservation of our liberty."
"Believe me, dear Sir: there is not in the British empire a man who more cordially loves a union
with Great Britain than I do. But, by the God that made me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a connection on
such terms as the British Parliament propose; and in this, I think I speak the sentiments of America." (said on
November 29, 1775)
The Only President to...
He was also one of only two presidents to have signed the Declaration of Independence (the other
was John Adams).
Interesting Thomas Jefferson Facts
Thomas Jefferson was not comfortable with public speaking due at least partially to the fact
that he spoke with a lisp. He preferred to do his talking with a pen. During his time as president, he dispensed
with the practice of deliverying the State of the Union Address in person and instead submitted it in writing.
Although Thomas Jefferson was considered brilliant as president and indeed was the author of the
Declaration of Independence, he apparently was not a very good money manager. After his presidency, his debts began
to pile up to the point that his friends secretly began to raise money to bail him out. It still wasn't enough.
Upon his death, he was more than $1 million in debt in today's money.
Thomas Jefferson was once given a 1,235-pound hunk of cheese, which is where the term "The Big
Cheese" comes from.
Thomas Jefferson died 50 years to the day of the approval of the Declaration of Independence
(not 50 years after the signing since the document wasn't actually signed until August 2 contrary to what you often