Thomas Jefferson


Thomas Jefferson was an American diplomat, statesman, architect, philosopher, lawyer, and founding father. He was chosen as the 3rd President of the United States during the years 1801 to 1809, before that he also served as a vice president when John Adams and George Washington were presidents. He drafted Virginia’s legislator for religious freedom and was also a principal author of the United States of America’s independence declaration document.

Early Life and Career

  • Jefferson was the third of ten children, born on the 13th of April 1743 in Virginia, which was the British Colony. Jefferson’s father and mother were Peter Jefferson and Jane Randolph, respectively. Peter was a surveyor and a planter who died when Thomas was only fourteen. He inherited the land of nearly 2000 hectares (including Monticello), and at the age of 21 years, he took full authority of his property.

  • He constructed his residence in 1768 at Monticello at a hilltop to look for his property. In 1772, Thomas married Martha, his third cousin who was a 23 years old widow, a skilled pianist, a good reader, and an expert in needlework.

  • Their married life was a good period of Thomas’s life, and they had 6 children with Martha; Martha “Patsy” (1772-1836), Jane (1774-1775), Mary “Polly” (1778-1804), Lucy Elizabeth (1780-1781), another Lucy Elizabeth (1782-1784), and an unnamed child (survived only a few weeks in 1777).

  • Thomas started his education at the age of five at an English school and in the year 1752 (at the age of 9), he went to a local school and started learning Greek, Latin, and French and practising horse riding, which he grew to love. After this, he was taught by the Reverend James Maury (at Gordonsville near Virginia) and studied classics, history, and different aspects of science.

  • At the age of 16, Jefferson went to the College of William & Mary (Williamsburg, Virginia), where he studied metaphysics, philosophy, and mathematics. In college, Jefferson was influenced by the thoughts and teachings of professor William Small, George Wythe and Francis Fauquier, and actively participated in the discussion regarding philosophy and politics and learnt French, Greek, and Violin.

  • He graduated in the year 1762. Thomas had a library of her personal favourites, which was grown to roughly 2000 volumes. Thomas entered the Virginia Bar in 1767, and during 1769-1775 he served in Albemarle County in the Virginia House of Burgesses. Thomas was against slavery and therefore tried reforms to slavery with a legislator in 1969.

Revolutionary War

Thomas was the chief author of the document for an independence declaration, in which their social and political ideas were influenced by him. Jefferson participated in the Second Continental Congress, in 1775, where an independence declaration against Britain was declared. Jefferson became a good friend of John Adams, who was an emerging Congress leader, and therefore John favoured the appointment of Thomas to the draft declaration committee known as the Committee of five, which helped in the independence of the United Colonies. On 28th June 1776 (Friday), the declaration of independence was introduced and debated in Congress on 1st July. After That on 4th July 1776, Congress incorporated the changes, and it was signed on 2nd August.

This act was against the British and was considered treason against the British Crown. In this, the preamble stating “all men are created equal” was considered the most significant and best-known text of American history.

Political Career

  • Jefferson served as Virginia delegate when a peace treaty was signed with the Britishers in the year 1783.

  • In the Congress’s session of 1783-1784, he acted as a chairman of the committee to create a viable distribution of the power and settlement of the western territories, where Jefferson insisted that any state will not use any colonial territory.

  • He was appointed as the Minister of Plenipotentiary by the Congress of the Confederation to work with Benjamin Franklin and John Adams in Paris on 7th May 1784.

  • After returning from Paris, Thomas was appointed as Secretary of State, where his main focus was to reduce the dependence of Americans on the products from the British and enhance that with France.

Election of 1796 and Vice Presidency

Jefferson lost the 1796 campaign to John Adams (Federalist) by 68-71 and was elected as the vice president. He supported free debates in the Senate. Jefferson encouraged France to invade England, although it did not go as expected. Federalists enacted the Alien and Sedition Act, Thomas believed that it suppressed the natives rather than enemies and considered it unconstitutional. Therefore, the Kentucky-Virginia resolutions written by Jefferson and James Madison stated that the states can shield their citizens from federal laws. However, this resolution was condemned for its nature to dissolve the union of the states.

Presidency (1801-1809)

Thomas was elected on 4th March 1801 and sworn in by John Marshall (Chief Justice). His thoughts were fundamentally related to equality, and therefore he focussed more on justice and rights equally to all men and women, freedom of religion, speech, and press. His first challenge was a national debt of 83 million dollars, which he tackled with Albert Gallatin (Secretary of Treasury) through a reduction in taxes and annual appropriations. Jefferson introduced the Military Peace Establishment Act on 16th March 1802 and founded the United States Military Academy.


Thomas is considered an idol of democracy, freedom, republicanism, and an author of the Declaration of independence. In the first half-century, he was considered the most influential figure and was taken over by the presidential upholders James Madison (4th President), and James Monroe (5th President). During the American Civil War, his reputation declined because he supported states' rights.

His policies were widely criticised because conservatives thought that his policies led to the populist movement. In later times, Thomas was considered a figure of American democracy at the beginning of the Cold War, and his popularity was at its peak in the decade of the 1940s and 1950s.

Thomas was marked on the buildings, sculptures, and currency because of his contributions and honours. Portraits of Jefferson along with Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Theodore Roosevelt are carved at the Mount Rushmore Memorial. On Jefferson's 200th birth anniversary, a memorial was devoted to the nation in Washington, D.C. in 1943.


Thomas Jefferson was the chief author of the declaration of independence. He served as the 3rd president and two terms as vice president of the USA. He was a nobleman, believed in equality and supported freedom of speech.


Q1. What is considered the milestone work of Jefferson?

Ans. Jefferson was the 3rd US president during the years 1801-1809, and was well known for being the foremost author of the document of independence declaration in the year 1776.

Q2. What is the point of criticism among the people for Jefferson?

Ans. Jefferson always supported equality, democracy, and the rights of women and men. Therefore, the Kentucky and Virginia resolution written by him and James Madison (known as the father of the constitution) was supposed to give the authority to the states to shield their citizens from certain laws of the governments and therefore criticised for breaking the union of the states.

Q3. What are the other important personalities carved with Jefferson in Mount Rushmore Memorial?

Ans: Thomas Jefferson was carved with George Washington (1st President), Theodore Roosevelt (26th President), and Abraham Lincoln (16th President) in 1927 by the architect Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum.

Updated on: 23-Feb-2023


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