Thomas Jefferson Biography

Thomas Jefferson Biography

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Thomas Jefferson

The epitaph on the tombstone of Thomas Jefferson (chosen by Jefferson himself) reads : "Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the statue of Virginia for religious freedom and the father of the University of Virginia."
Thomas Jefferson was one of the most influent personalities in the history of the United States of America, A remarkable statesman and erudite scholar, his eternal fame rests on the fact that he was the principal author of the American Declaration of Independence. Jefferson was also the third President of the United States and its first Secretary of State.

Jefferson was the son of Peter Jefferson, a rich settler and Jane Randolph and he was born on April 13, 1743 at Shadwell, in Virginia. Educated in the College of William and Mary, he pursued law and was admitted to the bar in 1767. He started his political career at the age of 26 by entering the lower house of Virginia legislature. With exceptional legal skills and a profound knowledge of politics and history, Jefferson rose to become a natural leader and ably led the group of revolutionaries who staunchly opposed the British colonial rule.

In 1775 Jefferson was appointed as the representative of Virginia to the Second Continental Congress, which was actually the body of delegates who spoke and acted collectively for the Americans under the British rule. In June 1776, he became a member of the committee appointed to draft the reasons for seceding from Britain. Jefferson assumed its leadership and thus became the principal author of the draft which came to be known as the American Declaration of Independence. The The Declaration contained the claims of the United States on the basis of natural rights and the principle of equality.

After his successful tenure in the Continental Congress, Jefferson returned to Virginia and reentered its legislature. He served as the governor of the state for two years from 1779. In 1782, his wife died which literally devastated Jefferson. At this time he took a break from politics and produced his only book, Notes on Virginia. In 1784 he went to France in negotiating treaties with the European powers. When George Washington became the first president of the United States, he asked Jefferson to serve as his Secretary of State. While working in this capacity he had serious differences of opinion with Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of Treasury.

Jefferson became the third president of the United States in March 1801. He behaved like a true statesman, exhibited the qualities of bipartisanship and initiated several new measures. He doubled the area of the country by acquiring the Louisiana territory which was put on sale by Napoleon. He also sought opportunities to gain Florida and also sent expeditions for prospective territorial expansions. Jefferson was reelected for a second term in 1804.

Jefferson clashed with members of the judiciary, especially Chief Justice John Marshall when the latter exercised the power of judicial review on congressional legislations. Jefferson opposed this power as he felt that such a power lodged in one branch of the government will be opposed to the principles of republicanism. Following George Washington's footsteps, Jefferson also decided against a third term of presidency. After retiring from politics, he spent all his energy in his dream project, the establishment of the University of Virginia. Later on he attempted a critical analysis of the New Testament and Plato's Republic. He was also genuinely interested in natural sciences, scientific gadgets and discoveries and scientific farming.

It is remarkable to note that Thomas Jefferson, desperately wanted and ultimately succeeded to live until the 50th anniversary of the day that symbolized the central endeavour and achievement of his life, the Declaration of Independence. He died around one O'clock on the afternoon of July 4, 1846 and was buried at Monticello. He is revered and respected by the Americans for his eminent leadership and the Declaration of Independence which served as the cornerstone for the establishment of the United States.