Founding Father: Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson’s birthday was Wednesday so we’d like to talk about his impact on American culture. Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 to the happy couple of Jane Randolph and Peter Jefferson. His parent’s were wealthy people that owned quite a bit of land. Due to their wealth Jefferson was lucky enough to receive an extensive education something many others at the time simply couldn’t afford. He began his studies at the age of nine where he lived with a minister-teacher nine months out of the year. He continued boarding school while excelling at classical languages until the age of sixteen. He later enrolled into the College of William and Mary where he took classes in science, philosophy, literature, mathematics, and rhetoric or the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing. Unfortunately, at the age of fourteen Thomas Jefferson’s father passed away leaving behind his fortune. Luckily, for Jefferson he was the one to inherit it, he inherited 7,000 acres of land where he began building an estate which he named Monticello.

Later on in life Thomas Jefferson practiced law, served as a magistrate, and as a member of the House of Burgesses. He was even a county lieutenant at one point. When he was a member of the Continental Congress he was chosen for the great honor of drafting the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration is often considered the American and universal charter of liberties or rights. It states that all men are equal in rights, regardless of birth, wealth, or status, and that the government is the servant, not the master, of the people. After leaving the Congress Jefferson was later elected governor of Virginia which he served from 1779-1781. Never being able to stand still in life he later became trade commissioner to France in 1784 which later turned into him becoming Benjamin Franklin’s successor as Prime Minister. He also served as Secretary of State under George Washington in 1790. Jefferson ran for presidency in 1796 but lost by three electoral votes to John Adams. Due to him having the second most votes he became Vice-President. He finally managed to beat Adams four years later making him our third president.

During his presidency Thomas Jefferson accomplished quite a bit. During his first term Thomas Jefferson made the purchase of the Louisiana Territory which increased America’s territory by 827,000 square miles. He also supported the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Jefferson’s second term was a bit more shaky as it was during the middle of a conflict between Britain and France. Despite his efforts to remain neutral he could not avoid a war with Britain in 1812. During the last few years of his life he lived on his estate of Monticello, donated his collection of books to the government which formed the basis for the Library of Congress, and founded the University of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson had a massive impact on U.S. history and with out him life could have been drastically different for us so don’t forget to wish him a Happy Birthday!

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