The Jeffersonians   

The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people ... Th. Jefferson

Meet Thomas Jefferson

jefferson with flag

Thomas Jefferson

Born April 13, 1743 ---- Died July 4, 1826

Thomas Jefferson was born in Albemarle County, Virginia in April of 1743. His father was a successful surveyor and land holder. From this holding Jefferson acquired much land that he would build Monticello  upon, at the age of 26. His mother was Jane Randolph from the distinguished Randolph family of Virginia.

When he was just 29 Jefferson married Martha Wayles Skelton, a widow. They lived at Monticello together for ten years until her death. They had six children together however only two actually lived into adulthood.

Jefferson inherited slaves from both his father and father-in-law. Of them the Hemings slaves were among the those he acquired from his father-in-law. It is said that he was good to his slaves and in fact, did not pursue to catch two that were known to have left. Many lived at Monticello while others lived at the nearby Poplar Forest Estate or other plantations nearby.  He freed two slaves during his lifetime and five in his will. As it is known, the slaves that he did free were all skilled in a trade able to make it on their own. In his will Sally Hemings is one that he did free along with the children of Sally.

He attended the College of William and Mary where studied law. From there he practiced law and would serve as a government magistrate, county lieutenant and a member of the House of Burgesses. It is said that Jefferson did not like to speak and as a Burgess would write his thoughts to make them known.

From his position in the House of Burgesses he was appointed to the Continental Congress where he was asked by John Adams to help draft the Declaration of Independence. He did so in 1776 where there were changes made from its original drafting by Jefferson.  Over the years, Jefferson would say that upon his death he wanted to be remembered as the man that gave America the Declaration of Independence, but did not want it put on his stone, rather he wanted to be remembered for starting the University of Virginia.

Upon his return to Virginia after 1776 he would serve in the legislature of Virginia. in 1779 he was elected to the governorship of Virginia and served this position until 1781.  He wished that he could establish the same equality for religious worship in Virginia as he had so declared for the united States, from this he had a bill drafted, being so enacted in 1786.

He moved to France in 1785 to be minister of France, succeeding Benjamin Franklin. Jefferson sympathized with the the French during the French Revolution. Alexander Hamilton did not like or approve of such and from this Jefferson resigned 1793.

There was beginning to be conflicts between the two parties, the Federalists and the Democrat-Republicans. The Republicans sympathized with the French revolutionaries while the Federalists did not.  Jefferson also strongly opposed big controlling government that the Federalists believed in and championed the idea of a small government with most rights given to the states. 

During the election of 1796, Jefferson lost to John Adams by three electoral votes. He became vice-president under John Adams.  He would become the third President in 1800. It is said that there was a conflict during the election process and the choice was between Aaron Burr and Jefferson. Alexander Hamilton while he did not like Jefferson, he was more inclined to give his vote for Jefferson than Burr as he hated Burr.  Jefferson was known for the Louisiana Purchase during his first term. He also encouraged exploration west and is said to have plotted out a westward exploration at his home in Monticello. This lead to the Lewis and Clark expeditions.

His second term made him unpopular as he tried to solve the problem of our neutrality during the conflict between France and Great Britain. Jefferson put an embargo into effect which was unpopular. He tried to calm things however, it did not stop the war of 1812.

Jefferson retired to Monticello after his two term presidency.  At Monticello he put his efforts towards creating the University of Virginia. He designed the buildings and the curriculum. 

After a fire at the Library of Congress Jefferson sold his complete library to the government in order to reestablish a new Library of Congress.  As an avid reader, Jefferson's library was extensive and was well received.

He spent the last 17 years of his life following his presidency at Monticello. During these years he corresponded with his long time friend and political rival John Adams. They both died on July 4, 1824 within hours of each other. It is said that as Adams was dying that he was heard to say: Jefferson lives . Jefferson had in fact died earlier that