Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was one of the founders of the United States and is most well-known as the author of the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson was an intellect and also considered to be a man of reason and logic. He played a critical role in the formation of the new country.


Where did they live?

Thomas Jefferson was raised in the colony of Virginia, and his family was wealthy landowners. When he was young, he loved nature, exploring, reading, and playing the violin. Sadly his father died when he was only 11, and he was now the head of a large estate. It wasn’t until he was 21 years old that he took on the role of managing the estate.

Facts about Thomas Jefferson

  • When Jefferson attended William and Mary College in Virginia, he met law professor George Wythe who became his lifelong mentor and the reason that he decided to be a lawyer.
  • After college Jefferson not only practiced law but also learned to be a farmer and manage the vast estate that he had been left. His interest in politics led him to serve as a member of the Virginia legislature.
  • Still, under British rule, all of the colonies started feeling the pressure and weight of the British Crown. Unjust taxes and treatment caused many to be unhappy and look to a way to have freedom. Thomas Jefferson joined the group and represented Virginia at the First Continental Congress.
  • Jefferson was also in attendance at the Second Continental Congress, where they talked about writing a Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin were given the job of coming up with a document.
  • The goal of the Declaration of Independence was to indicate that the colonies wanted to be free from the rule of the British, and it was their intention that they would fight for that freedom.
  • Jefferson became the primary person to write the first draft of the document, and others gave their input for changes. After it was done, they presented it to congress. It is considered to be one of the most valuable documents in the history of America.
  • Thomas Jefferson was also talented in negotiating, and as a politician, he held a few positions, including Minister to France, the first Secretary of State under George Washington, Governor of Virginia, and the Vice President under John Adams.
  • In 1801 Thomas Jefferson was elected as the third president of the United States. He inherited a very high budget, so one of his first duties was to try to get it reduced. Other important tasks that he focused on included reducing taxes and moving power back to those on the state level. All of these ideas and successes made him popular with the people.
  • North America was a huge area, and little was known about a lot of the land, with some of it belonging to other countries. Jefferson negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, which bought all of the land west of the thirteen colonies from Napoleon of France for $15 million. Napoleon needed the money, and the United States wanted the land.
  • Jefferson sent the two famous explorers Lewis and Clark out to explore, map, and get details on the new western territory that had been purchased.
  • During this time, pirates were a big problem, and Jefferson sent the ships from the new American Navy to the North African coast to fight off the pirates that attacked American merchant vessels. Sending the ships created a smaller conflict that is called the First Barbary War.
  • During Jefferson’s second term as president, he focused on trying to keep the new country out of the Napoleonic Wars that were happening in Europe.
  • After his presidency, Jefferson returned to his Monticello home and plantation. In 1825 his health got worse, and he passed away minutes before John Adams on July 4, 1826, on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

What did you learn?

Although Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence, what other two men contributed to the fundamental changes?

Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

What was Thomas Jefferson’s trained profession?


How many terms did Jefferson serve as president of the United States?


What did Jefferson negotiate with Napoleon?

The Louisiana Purchase

Thomas Jefferson represented the colony of Virginia at what two important political meetings?

First and Second Continental Congress

When elected as the third president of the United States, what were the three main goals that Jefferson wanted to focus on?

reducing the budget, getting power back to the states, reducing taxes