Date Of Birth:
13 April 1743
Date Of Death:
4 July 1826
Place Of Birth:
Best Known As:
Author of the Declaration of Independence
Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States and one of the key drafters of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson served two full terms as president (1801-09) and also served as U.S. vice president, Secretary of State, minister to France, congressman, and governor of Virginia. He also founded the University of Virginia and served as president of the American Philosophical Society. Thomas Jefferson was talented in many areas; biographer James Parton said Jefferson could "calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, dance a minuet, and play the violin." For all that, Jefferson is best remembered as a champion of human rights and the lead draftsman of the Declaration of Independence. High points of his presidency included the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon Bonaparte and the exploration of the west at Jefferson's behest by Lewis and Clark. Thomas Jefferson was the third person to be president of the United States, following George Washington and John Adams; he was succeeded by James Madison. Thomas Jefferson married Martha Wayles Skelton, a widow, in 1772. She died in 1782, at the age of 33. They had one son and five daughters, only two of which lived to see him become president. Jefferson was a slaveholder. As the White House Historical Association puts it, "Despite working tirelessly to establish a new nation founded upon principles of freedom and egalitarianism, Jefferson owned over 600 enslaved people during his lifetime, the most of any U.S. president." DNA tests done in 1998 confirmed longtime rumors that Thomas Jefferson fathered at least one child, and probably multiple children, with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings.
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