The Life of Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson was born April 13th in Shadwell, Virginia. Jefferson had multiple occupations that dealt within the federal government. He was secretary of state, vice president, third president, U.S governor, government official, and a diplomat.
Jefferson was born to one of the more wealthier and prominent families of Virginia’s planter community. His mother, Jane Randolph Jefferson, claimed descent from British and Scottish royalty, while his father, Peter Jefferson, was a farmer and skilled cartographer, who made the first accurate map of the Province of Virginia.
Jefferson started his education at the age of 9, studying Latin and Greek at a private school. At the age of 14, Jefferson started studying more classical languages, literature, and mathematics with the Reverend James Murray.
After learning all he could from Murray, he left to attend the College of William and Mary. Upon his arrival, he was dismayed to find the students using their energy on betting horses, playing cards, and flirting. He eventually fell into a group he was comfortable with that consisted of old scholars.
After three years, Jefferson decided to study law with one of his friends, George Wythe. Because there were no law schools at this time, students would have to read law under an already established lawyer. Jefferson read law with Wythe for five years before being winning admission to the Virginia bar in 1767. Jefferson practiced law from 1767 to 1774, trying many cases and winning most of them. He met his wife and married her on January 1st, 1772. They had six children together but only two survived into adulthood,and only one of the two lived past their father.
Thomas Jefferson’s professional life coincided with the great changes in Great Britain’s American Colonies. Jefferson was one of the earliest and die hardest supporters of getting freedom from Great Britain. He was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses, led by Patrick Henry and George Washington. In 1774, Jefferson published A Summary of The Rights of British America, which cemented his reputation as one of the supportive advocates for the american cause. The Second Continental Congress appointed a five man committee to draft a Declaration of Independence. The committee chose Jefferson to be the author of the first draft, which he finished in the first 17 days. Although Jefferson’s first draft was revised several times, the theme remained the same. After authoring the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson went back to Virginia and joined the Virginia House of Representatives to structure the laws in Virginia like he wrote in the Declaration of Independence. In 1777, Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statute for religious freedom, which gave citizens freedom of religion and separation of state and church. Two years later, the Virginia legislature elected Jefferson as the governor. The two years he spent as governor proved to be the low point in his political career, as he made nobody happy. The day before his term as governor ended, he had to narrowly escaped capture by the british cavalry. Because of all the heat he got from fleeing, he declined to run for a third term and return to where he was born to live out his days as a farmer. To fill his time, he wrote a book called Notes on Virginia. The book did a lot more than Jefferson intended it to do, letting readers see his political views. In the book he hoped america would become a virtuous agricultural republic, based on the values of liberty, honesty, and simplicity and centered on the self-sufficient farmer.
His views on blacks are what we would call today blatantly racist. He thought blacks were innately inferior to whites in both terms of mental and physical capacity. Nevertheless, he still wanted to abolish slavery, but thought they would have to exile former slaves to Africa or Haiti because they wouldn’t be able to live peacefully alongside their former masters.
In 1800, Republican candidates Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied for first place in the electoral race with 73 electoral votes each. They had a long and tedious debate, and jEfferson came out in top as the third president of the United States of America. Delivering his inaugural speech on March 4th of 1801, Jefferson spoke about all the commonalities that that unite Americans despite their differences. His first year in office was successful and productive, he lowered the national debt to 57 million dollars in first two years. He’s most known for the Louisiana Purchase, which he bought from Napoleon for 15 million dollars, and in doing this, he doubled he land of free. The louisiana purchase did go against his believe as a republican though, and even though he won re-election in 1804, that term was nowhere near as successful as his first, as he could not prevent the british and french empires from harassing american ships that were trying to send goods across the ocean. As a result he placed an embargo on Europe, which led to the war of 1812 when he left office.
On March 4th 1809, Jefferson watched the inauguration of his close friend, James Madison, and returned to Virginia to love out the rest of his life as The Sage of Monticello. Jefferson dedicated his older years to organizing the nation’s first secular university. He designed the campus and picked renowned European scholars to serve as professors. The school opened on March 7th 1825. To pay off his financial woes, he sold his coveted library as a basis for the Library of Congress.
Jefferson died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence and only a few hours before John Adams. As the author of the Declaration of INdependence, Jefferson will be revered as one of the greatest founding fathers, even though he was a man of many contradictions. He was the spokesman of liberty and a racist slave owner, the champion of the common people and a man with luxurious and aristocratic taste, a person who believed in limited government and and a president that expanded territory and governmental authority. These tensions of his actions and beliefs will make him all the more apt to be the symbol of america, who also has a history of contradictions between beliefs and actions.
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