Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) is best remembered as a great president and as the author of the Declaration of Independence. He was also famous for founding the Democratic Party. He was an architect and designed the Virginia Capitol building, most of the buildings for the University of Virginia, and his home Monticello.
Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, at his family farm just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. He grew up with six sisters and one brother. He grew up as a country boy interested in hunting, fishing, and horseback riding. He loved music and learned to play the violin. He began his formal education when he was nine years old. He studied Latin and Greek at a local private school. When he was only 14 years old his father died. Since he was the oldest son, he became the head of his family. He inherited about 5,000 acres of land and at least 20 slaves.
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When he was 16 Jefferson entered college. After two years in college, he started studying law. He married in 1772 and he and his wife settled at Monticello. They had one son and five daughters but only two of the daughters lived to grow up.
Thomas Jefferson was one of the first supporters of the American Revolution. He was elected to the House of Burgesses in 1769. In 1775 he was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress and was appointed to a committee to write the Declaration of Independence. This document declared America’s independence from Great Britain. It is his best known work.
Jefferson was elected governor of Virginia and then to Congress. In 1789 President George Washington asked him to be the first Secretary of State for the new government. He resigned in 1794 and returned to Monticello. He was nominated as a candidate for president in 1796 but lost to John Adams and become vice president. In 1800 he was nominated again and was elected the third president. The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 which nearly doubled the country’s territory was one of his greatest achievements. He also supported the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He was re-elected president in 1804.
When he was 65, he retired from the presidency and went back home to Monticello. Then he worked to found the University of Virginia. He died on July 4, 1826, fifty years after writing the Declaration of Independence,
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