Thomas Jefferson Biography
Thoma Jefferson gave us our notion of equality. He also introduced the notion of religious freedom. Learn more about this prolific figure.
He who gave us our notion of equality. He who wrote the Declaration of Independence creating our nation as we know it today. He who introduced the notion of religious freedom, and so the list continues. Thomas Jefferson.
April 13th 1743 in a quaint town of Virginia Thomas was born to parents Peter Jefferson and Jane Randolph. His father, once a surveyor, militia officer, church warden, judge, justice of peace, and lastly representative to the Virginia House of Burgesses from Albemarle County. His mother a member of the richest and most powerful families from Virginia. Thomas was the third of ten children: two of his siblings were mentally retarded.
Throughout his childhood Thomas went through a number of tutors and mentors: several of which he admired and respected, others of which he deemed not worth their weight in salt. When Thomas was 14, Peter Jefferson died and Thomas inherited Shadwell, his father's estate, on which he was born. Thomas often recounted that he felt abandoned by his father: first he was left in the hands of tutors, then his father prematurely died. Many believe that this was the start of Jefferson's unstable emotional status.
At the age of seventeen a lanky, freckled, hazel-eyed, reddish haired youth with large hands and feet, he went off to the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg Virginia. At his college he spent his first year partying then decided he must get more serious about his studies: his second year rumor has it his dedication was frightening. One classmate claimed "Jefferson… could tear himself away from his dearest friends to fly to his studies." Two years after arriving Jefferson parted ways with the college with nothing to show of it. He did not take a degree, yet decided to get into law.
At the age of nineteen Jefferson entered the law office of George Wythe before being admitted to the bar five years later. In that law office he made vital contacts, got a better sense of autocracy, and acquired a new outlook on the world. June 7th, 1776 a committee of five was chosen to write the declaration of independence. Jefferson was a member of this committee and was personally chosen to draft up the document on his own. In seventeen days Jefferson whipped up a document which we still use today.
In 1779 Jefferson was elected governor of Virginia, then in 1780 re-elected. During the time in which Jefferson was governor, word had it that a British cavalry raid was coming to Charlottesville to capture the assembly, council, and governor. When Jefferson heard this he put his family in a carriage to leave town, then a few minutes afterwards departed by horseback into a safer area. Afterwards many people accused Jefferson of being cowardly for fleeing from the British cavalry.
After Martha Jefferson, Thomas's wife, had her sixth child her health rapidly deteriorated. September 6th, 1782 Martha passed away. It is a well-known fact that Jefferson's own health fell due to his uncontrollable grief over his wife's death. In 1784 Jefferson moved to Paris in order to be America's minister to France dealing with many different diplomatic situations. Accompanying him were Patsy (his eldest daughter), William Short (his secretary) and many other slaves.
In 1819 Jefferson chartered the University of Virginia. He wished it to be a school in which no degrees were given, no attendance taken, people would just come when they pleased, and leave when they felt educated. A philosophy which was not carried out, yet the college was the creation of the American public school system.
Jefferson AND John Adams died on July 4th 1826. Both were determined to see Independence day roll around, and both died thinking the other was still alive, Adams last words were 'Jefferson still lives.' Yet little did he know Jefferson had passed away only a few minutes before. Jefferson was a man who deemed his two terms as president unworthy of being put on his tombstone.