Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States of America

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Thomas Jefferson

Also Known As: "Thomas Jefferson", "Thomas Jefferson"
Birthplace: Shadwell Plantation, Goochland, now Albemarle, County, Colony of Virginia, British America
Death: July 04, 1826 (83)
Monticello, Charlottesville, Albemarle, Virginia, United States (Cause-of-Death: debility, most likely dehydration resulting from amoebic dysentery)
Place of Burial: Charlottesville, Albemarle, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Colonel Peter Jefferson and Jane Jefferson
Husband of Martha Skelton Jefferson
Partner of Sarah 'Sally' Hemings
Father of Martha (Jefferson) Randolph, 3rd First Lady of the United States; Peter Jefferson, died in infancy; Maria Eppes; Jane Randolph Jefferson; Lucy Elizabeth Jefferson and 8 others
Brother of Jane Jefferson; Mary Bolling; Elizabeth Jefferson; Martha Carr; Peter Field Jefferson, II and 4 others

Occupation: Third President of the USA, 3rd President of US, 3rd President of the United States, 3rd President of the United States of America
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States of America

A Patriot of the American Revolution for Virginia and Signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Jefferson (April 13 [O.S. April 2] 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American Founding Father who was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and later served as the third President of the United States from 1801 to 1809. Previously, he was elected the second Vice President of the United States, serving under John Adams from 1797 to 1801. A proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights motivating American colonists to break from Great Britain and form a new nation, he produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national level. He was a land owner and farmer.

Jefferson was primarily of English ancestry (Wales), born and educated in colonial Virginia. He graduated from the College of William & Mary and briefly practiced law, at times defending slaves seeking their freedom. During the American Revolution, he represented Virginia in the Continental Congress that adopted the Declaration, drafted the law for religious freedom as a Virginia legislator, and he served as a wartime governor (1779–1781). He became the United States Minister to France in May 1785, and subsequently the nation's first Secretary of State in 1790–1793 under President George Washington. Jefferson and James Madison organized the Democratic-Republican Party to oppose the Federalist Party during the formation of the First Party System. With Madison, he anonymously wrote the controversial Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1798–1799, which sought to embolden states' rights in opposition to the national government by nullifying the Alien and Sedition Acts.

As President, Jefferson pursued the nation's shipping and trade interests against Barbary pirates and aggressive British trade policies. He also organized the Louisiana Purchase, almost doubling the country's territory. As a result of peace negotiations with France, his administration reduced military forces. He was reelected in 1804. Jefferson's second term was beset with difficulties at home, including the trial of former Vice President Aaron Burr. American foreign trade was diminished when Jefferson implemented the Embargo Act of 1807, responding to British threats to U.S. shipping. In 1803, Jefferson began a controversial process of Indian tribe removal to the newly organized Louisiana Territory, and he signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves in 1807.

Jefferson mastered many disciplines, which ranged from surveying and mathematics to horticulture and mechanics. He was a proven architect in the classical tradition. Jefferson's keen interest in religion and philosophy earned him the presidency of the American Philosophical Society. He shunned organized religion but was influenced by both Christianity and deism. He was well versed in linguistics and spoke several languages. He founded the University of Virginia after retiring from public office. He was a prolific letter writer and corresponded with many prominent and important people throughout his adult life. His only full-length book is Notes on the State of Virginia (1785), considered the most important American book published before 1800.

Although regarded as a leading spokesman for democracy and republicanism in the era of the Enlightenment, Jefferson's historical legacy is mixed. He owned and profited from several plantations which were worked by slaves throughout all of his adult life. There is evidence that after his wife Martha died in 1782, Jefferson fathered children with Martha’s half-sister, Sally Hemings, who was his slave. Some modern scholarship has been critical of Jefferson's private life, pointing out the contradiction between his ownership of slaves and his famous declaration that "all men are created equal." He continues to rank highly among U.S. presidents. Presidential scholars and historians generally praise Jefferson's public achievements, including his advocacy of religious freedom and tolerance in Virginia.

DNA Result for Slave Descendants

Direct male-line descendants of a cousin of president Thomas Jefferson were DNA tested to investigate historical assertions that Jefferson fathered children with his slave Sally Hemings. After that, most historians agree that Jefferson is the father of one or more of Sally's children.**

An extended 17-marker haplotype was published in 2007, and the company Family Tree DNA has also published results for other markers in its standard first 12-marker panel. Combining these sources gives the consolidated 21-marker haplotype T (M184) (formerly known as K2).***

DNA Results for ancestors

Dumas Malone, in Jefferson the Virginian, remarked rather dismissively on the Jeffersons’ claim to originate in Wales, “Whether they ever did seems to be beyond the possibility of historical verification and the matter is of no real importance.” …

… While these may indeed be evidence of a particular interest in Wales, I do feel compelled to point out that, based on his house, books and other possessions, Thomas Jefferson appeared to be interested in almost everything.

… The DNA tests proved no such thing, however, and indeed the results seem to make it even less likely that the Jefferson family originated in Wales. To summarize very briefly, DNA tests were performed on 85 men with the last name “Jefferson” at the University of Leicester, and only 2 of them turned out to have the same Y chromosome as our Jefferson. These two men, whose relation to President Jefferson was estimated at about 11 generations back, had ancestral ties in Yorkshire and the West Midlands, respectively. I have just looked at a map and can tell you with some authority that neither of those are in Wales. …

Dumas Malone source:
Wikipedia includes Thomas Jefferson DNA:
Possible Jewish Y DNA of Thomas Jefferson 2007:
From the National Library of Medicine:

Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, Volume II:
Jefferson, Thomas, son of Peter Jefferson and Jane Randolph, daughter of Isham Randolph, of "Dungeness," Goochland county, Virginia, was born at "Shadwell," Albemarle county, April 2, 1743. Though his father died when he was fourteen years old, he was thoroughly trained by private tutors. and spent two years (1760-1762) at William and Mary College. He then studied law for five years under Chancellor Wythe, in Williamsburg, and was admitted to the bar when twenty-four years old. In 1769 he was elected to the house of burgesses from Albemarle, and became at once one of the group of new men who took the lead in public affairs. In 1773 he assisted in establishing committees of correspondence between the colonies, the first step towards Union. In 1774 he drafted instructions for the Virginia delegates to the first Congress, assuming the extreme ground taken by Bland in 1766, and summing up, with trenchant pen, that easily gave him the first place among American writers, the rights and wrongs of the continent. This magnificent paper contained every idea in the Declaration of Independence except the explicit statement of separation. It was published in pamphlet form under the title of "a Summary View of the Rights of British America."

Political events absorbed his attention, and he relinquished his law practice, which was very extensive. He was a member of the Virginia convention of March, 1775, and when Patrick Henry made his motion to organize the militia, Jefferson argued "closely, profoundly, and warmly on the same side." In the house of burgesses, June, 1775, he prepared a masterly reply to Lord North's "Conciliatory Proposition," and soon after, in the second Congress, to which he was elected June 20, 1775, on the retirement of Peyton Randolph, he prepared a similar paper as the answer of that body. He attended the third Congress, which met in Philadelphia. September 25, 1775, but left before it adjourned, and did not again present himself till May 13, 1776. Then, as chairman of a committee, he drafted the Declaration of Independence, which has immortalized him. On September 2, 1776. he resigned from Congress and returned home, but Congress, unwilling to dispense with his services, associated him with Dr. Franklin and Silas Deane to negotiate treaties of alliance and commerce with France. This appointment he declined on account of his wife's declining health, and in October he took his seat in the house of delegates of Virginia, and applied himself to reforming the Virginia code. The great series of bills which he prepared, and which in great part were adopted, concerning the descent of lands, religion, education and slavery, constitutes a great monument to his ability and patriotism. In January, 1779, he succeeded Patrick Henry as governor, and was reelected in 1780. Among his important measures in this office were the removal of the capital to Richmond, his maintaining Virginia's quota in Washington's army in the North, and his supplying General Greene's army in the South with provisions and munitions of war.

Jefferson narrowly escaped capture when Cornwallis' troops were so near Charlottesville that the legislature had to adjourn to Staunton. He declined to apply for a third election to the governorship in 1781, and employed his leisure in writing his "Notes on Virginia," a work still regarded most highly. Congress appointed him one of the commissioners to treat for peace, but he declined because of the illness of his wife, who died September 6, 1782. Later he accepted the office of peace commissioner, but peace was restored before he could sail for Europe. In 1783 he was elected to Congress, which sat at Annapolis, May 7, 1784. In this body his most prominent work was the ordinance for the government of the northwest territory. Congress again elected him minister, in conjunction with Mr. Adams and Benjamin Franklin, to negotiate treaties of commerce with foreign nations. He sailed from Boston, July 5, 1784, and reached Paris, August 6. On the resignation of Dr. Franklin he was appointed minister plenipotentiary to France. His three years there resulted in his arrangement of a satisfactory consular system between France and the United States. He meantime traveled extensively in Europe, and became intimate with many famous scientists, and his "Notes on Virginia," appearing in a French translation, won for him great admiration. In November, 1789, he returned home on a six months leave of absence, and found awaiting him his appointment as secretary of state by President Washington, which he accepted. During his five years service in this office, he distinguished himself by many important public reports, but the differences with Hamilton, secretary of the treasury, grew so acute that Jefferson resigned, January 1, 1794, Washington vainly endeavoring to retain him. In September, 1794, Washington urged him strongly to resume the state secretaryship, but he positively declined, declaring with emphasis that nothing could induce him to again engage in the public service. However, in 1796, he was the presidential candidate of the Democratic-Republican party, and his vote being next largest to Adams, under the constitution he became vice-president. This office imposed but light duties, and he gave much of his time to study and research, and prepared his famous "Manual of Parliamentary Practice," which has been the principal guide in Congress to the present day. In 1800 he again became the candidate of his party for the presidency, but though his vote in the electoral college was greater than his Federalist competitor, an equal vote was given to Aaron Burr, whom the Republicans intended to be vice-president, and the election under the constitution, as it then stood, came to the house of representatives. Here after a long continued attempt of the Federalists to reverse the decision of the people and to place Burr in the presidency, Jefferson was finally declared president. In this high office he held to the simplest forms of conduct, abolishing weekly levees, elaborate precedence, rules, etc. A signal innovation consisted in his communicating his messages in writing instead of delivering them in person as Washington and Adams had done. This continued to be the rule for all his successors till present conditions having removed the old objections, President Wilson revived the obsolete practice of John Adams. His most notable achievement as president was the purchase of the vast Louisiana territory, which was practically his own unaided work. Second only in importance to this was his success in keeping the country from becoming involved in the European wars. Re-elected in 1804, he retired after the close of his second term to his home, "Monticello," near Charlottesville, Virginia. The work of his latter days was the University of Virginia, which he projected and lived long enough to see in perfect working order. He superintended every detail, laid down the plans for all the severely classical buildings, procured the funds for their erection, and mapped out the collegiate curricula. At his beautiful mansion, "Monticello," he entertained the most distinguished men of his day, and there, after his death, his daughter, Mrs. Randolph, passed the remainder of her life in ease and comfort, with the aid of $10,000 gratuity from the states of Virginia and South Carolina, granted as a tribute to the memory of her illustrious father. His affairs had become badly involved, and he had been obliged to sell to Congress his valuable library for about one-fourth of its cost. He died July 4, 1826, and was buried at "Monticello," where his grave was marked with a stone bearing the following inscription written by himself: "Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia." This was afterwards replaced with a massive pillar erected by the government of the United States, and bearing the same inscription. From the day of his death to the present time, no other public man has been so often quoted. In originality of mind, versatility of talent, general sweep of intellect, universality of knowledge, power over men, and conception of the rights of mankind, he stood easily head and shoulders above all his great contemporaries. Washington alone surpassed him in moral force.

Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, Volume II


Thomas Jefferson was part of the Committee of Five appointed by the Continental Congress to draft the Declaration of Independence and the main author. The others were John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston and Ben Franklin. Note before it was signed by the Congress Livingston was called back to his state on business and his signature does not appear on the Document.

It is interesting to note that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams who were political adversaries became good friends later in life. Adams retired to his farm in Quincy. Here he penned his elaborate letters to Thomas Jefferson. Here on July 4, 1826, he whispered his last words: "Thomas Jefferson survives." But Jefferson had died at Monticello a few hours earlier on the same day.

The 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

The Inventor

Thomas Jefferson was also the inventor of cryptography for use in the military and in his dealings with at the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, some comparatively sophisticated cryptology systems were in use. Thomas Jefferson was very interested in cryptology and even had a device for encoding and decoding messages called a "cipher wheel." Not surprisingly, Thomas Jefferson’s contribution to the world of codes and ciphers was a mechanical device – a wheel cylinder. Although not much came of this invention, which was developed some time before 1802, in 1922 the Army adopted a similar device.


Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 into a family closely related to some of the most prominent individuals in Virginia, the third of eight children. His mother was Jane Randolph, daughter of Isham Randolph, a ship's captain and sometime planter, and first cousin to Peyton Randolph. Jefferson's father was Peter Jefferson, a planter and surveyor plantations in Albemarle County (Shadwell, then Edge Hill, Virginia.) He was of Welsh descent.

Alternate Birth Date: 4/2/1743

The 3rd President of the United States.

Best friend of, and buried side by side with, Dabney Carr at Monticello.


I--Fathers of the Revolution

American revolutionary leader

Political philosopher

Author of the Declaration of Independence, in late June 1776, for the Second Continental Congress

Third President of the United States (1801-1809)



Attended the College of William and Mary in the early 1760's

Lawyer, admitted to the bar in 1767

Legislator in Virginia (1776-1779)

Reformed the Virginia criminal code

Established the University of Virginia, which opened in 1825

Elected to the House of Burgesses in 1769

Architect, designed and built Monticello during his late 20's

Governor of Virginia 1779-1781

Delegate to the Congress

Minister to France 1784-1789

Secretary of State in George Washington's first administration 1790-1793

Vice President under the Federalist president John Adams 1797

Purchased Louisiana from France and organized the Lewis-Clark Expedition

Paradoxical beliefs in human dignity and in racial inferiority.

Immediate Family, Showing 12 of 33 people

Sarah 'Sally' Hemings partner

Thomas Corbin Woodson, I son

Harriet Hemings, I daughter

Edy Hemings son

Beverly William Hemings son

Thenia Jefferson Hemings daughter

Harriet Heckman daughter

Madison Jefferson son

Eston John Jefferson son

Elizabeth Howard partner

Claiborne Howard son

Martha Skelton Jefferson wife


President Thomas Jefferson

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Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States of America's Timeline

April 13, 1743
Shadwell Plantation, Goochland, now Albemarle, County, Colony of Virginia, British America
- 1762
Age 16
The College of William and Mary
April 25, 1762
Age 19
September 27, 1772
Monticello, Albemarle County, Virginia, United States
April 3, 1774
Monticello, Charlottesville, Albemarle, Virginia, USA
June 20, 1775
- September 26, 1776
Age 32
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States