Our 3rd President: 1801-1809
Just the Facts
- Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia.
- He practiced his violin 3 hours per day.
- His favorite food was peas.
- He was very informal and wore casual clothes (even slippers sometimes).
- At times, he answered the door at the President’s Mansion himself.
- His nickname is “Father of the Declaration of Independence”
- He was a “Man of Enlightenment” – accomplished in a wide variety of things.
- His tombstone did not mention his role as president (he wrote it himself).
- The government bought his personal library (over 6,000 books) – it was the start of the Library of Congress.
Thomas Jefferson grew up on a large plantation in Virginia. He spent his childhood reading, exploring nature and playing the violin. Thomas Jefferson was 11 when his father died. He inherited the family’s estate and took charge when he was 21 years old. He went to college at William and Mary, studying law. He was a farmer, lawyer and politician. He served in the Virginia legislature and represented Virginia in the Continental Congress. He is most famous for writing the Declaration of Independence (along with John Adams and Benjamin Franklin) – the famous document was actually handwritten by Jefferson.
Jefferson was one of our smartest presidents and was interested in everything – science, music, art, architecture, language, books, law, geography, botany, philosophy, farming, and history. In fact, he even designed his own house – and called it Monticello. He collected prehistoric bones and invented the folding ladder. He also founded the University of Virginia and designed all it buildings.
Thomas Jefferson was the third president and served for 2 terms (8 years). Before that, he was Vice President under John Adams and Secretary of State under George Washington. During his presidency, the famous Supreme Court case, Marbury v. Madison, was handed down – it gave the Supreme Court the power to decide whether laws enacted by Congress violate the Constitution. It is a pivotal part of our checks and balances system.
His most famous accomplishment as President was the Louisiana Purchase – he bought land west of the Mississippi River from France and nearly doubled the size of our country. He bought the land without really knowing what it was like. So, he asked Lewis and Clark to explore the land and report back (the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition).
Jefferson believed in a small federal government. He wanted states to have as much power as possible and he worked to limit the size and budget of the federal government. That made him popular – the American people have never liked taxes!
Thomas Jefferson married Martha when he was AGE. They had two daughters, Martha and Mary. After 10 happy years of marriage, his wife died (she was only 33 years old) and Jefferson never remarried. His oldest daughter, Patsy, performed many duties of first lady (that is, when she wasn’t busy with her own family of 10 kids).
“Honest is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”
“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
“Educate and reform the whole mass of the people… they are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”
Want to learn more?
Take a virtual tour of his home, Monticello at http://www.monticello.org
Learn about the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC at http://www.nps.gov/thje/index.htm
Learn more at one of these websites: