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Jefferson, Thomas, Pres. U.S., 1743-1826

 

Dates

  • Existence: 1743 - 1826

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743[a] – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, and Founding Father who served as the third president of the United States from 1801 to 1809. He previously served as the second vice president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. The principal author of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights, motivating American colonists to break from the Kingdom of Great Britain and form a new nation; he produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national level.

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 served as the second Governor of Virginia from 1779 to 1781, during the American Revolutionary War. He became the United States Minister to France in May 1785, and subsequently, the nation's first secretary of state under President George Washington from 1790 to 1793. 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 provocative Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1798 and 1799, which sought to strengthen states' rights by nullifying the federal 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, in response 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. After retiring from public office, Jefferson founded the University of Virginia.

Jefferson, while primarily a planter, lawyer and politician, mastered many disciplines, which ranged from surveying and mathematics to horticulture and mechanics. He was an architect in the classical tradition. Jefferson's keen interest in religion and philosophy led to his presidency of the American Philosophical Society; he shunned organized religion but was influenced by both Christianity and deism. A philologist, Jefferson knew several languages. He was a prolific letter writer and corresponded with many prominent people. His only full-length book is Notes on the State of Virginia (1785), considered perhaps the most important American book published before 1800.[1]

Although Jefferson is regarded as a leading spokesman for democracy and republicanism in the era of the Enlightenment, some modern scholarship has been critical of Jefferson, finding a contradiction between his ownership and trading of many slaves that worked his plantations, and his famous declaration that "all men are created equal". Although the matter remains a subject of debate, most historians believe that Jefferson had a sexual relationship with his slave Sally Hemings, a mixed-race woman who was a half-sister to his late wife and that he fathered at least one of her children. Presidential scholars and historians generally praise Jefferson's public achievements, including his advocacy of religious freedom and tolerance in Virginia. Jefferson continues to rank highly among U.S. presidents.

Found in 22 Collections and/or Records:

John Ledyard letter

Mss 787900.1
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 787900.1
Overview In English.

Philip Mazzei letters

Mss 781466
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 781466
Scope and Contents Draft of a letter to Franklin explaining the delay in the delivery of a package. Copy of a letter from Partick Henry detailing Mazzei's mission to Europe, Letter from "Citizen of Virginia" responding to criticism. Draft of a letter from Jefferson and from Mazzei.

Pres. U.S. Thomas Jefferson letter

Mss 803404
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 803404
Overview In English.

Th. Jefferson acts

Mss 792229
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 792229
Scope and Contents Th. Jefferson of Philadelphia to the Governor of New Hampshire sending copies of several acts of Congress.

Thomas Jefferson letter

Mss 790473
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 790473
Overview In English.

Thomas Jefferson creed, 1813-09-18

McClure MS-1311: David McClure papers
 Folder: 813518, Box: 5
Scope and Contents U.S. President Thomas Jefferson's creed "From the Richmond Daily Compiler, Nov. 18, 1813" (A copy)

Thomas Jefferson letter

Mss 795508.1
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 795508.1
Scope and Contents Letter from Thomas Jefferson, Pres. U.S. of Monticello to Philip Mazzei concerning collections made for Mazzei; political developments in the U.S.; his wish for tranquility.

Thomas Jefferson letter

Mss 816159.3
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 816159.3
Overview In English.

Thomas Jefferson letter

Mss 796131
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 796131
Scope and Contents Letter from Thomas Jefferson Pres. U.S. in Monticello to Philip Mazzei about Mazzei's financial affairs, and difficulties of making collections of debts.

Thomas Jefferson letter

Mss 780254.1
 Collection
Identifier: Mss 780254.1
Scope and Contents Four page autograph letter from Thomas Jefferson of Williamsburg, VA to Philip Mazzei reporting on accounts collected for Mazzei, the state of his lands and various emigres; news of the war.