Thomas Jefferson

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Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson

In office
March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1809
Vice President Aaron Burr (1801–1805),
George Clinton (1805–1809)
Preceded by John Adams
Succeeded by James Madison

In office
March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801
President John Adams
Preceded by John Adams
Succeeded by Aaron Burr

In office
September 26, 1789 – December 31, 1793
President George Washington
Preceded by New Office
Succeeded by Edmund Randolph

In office
1785 – 1789
Appointed by Congress of the Confederation
Preceded by Benjamin Franklin
Succeeded by William Short

In office
1783 – 1784

In office
June 1, 1779 – June 3, 1781
Preceded by Patrick Henry
Succeeded by William Fleming

In office
1775 – 1776

Born April 13 [O.S. April 2] 1743
Shadwell, Virginia
Died July 4, 1826 (aged 83)
Charlottesville, Virginia
Political party Democratic-Republican
Spouse Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson
Children Martha Washington Jefferson, Jane Randolph Jefferson, Stillborn son, Mary Wayles Jefferson, Lucy Elizabeth Jefferson I, Lucy Elizabeth Jefferson II.
Alma mater The College of William & Mary
Occupation Statesman, Planter, Lawyer
Religion see below
Signature Thomas Jefferson's signature

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 – July 4, 1826)[1] was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of republicanism in the United States. Major events during his presidency include the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806).

As a political philosopher, Jefferson was a man of the Enlightenment and knew many intellectual leaders in Britain and France. He idealized the independent yeoman farmer as exemplar of republican virtues, distrusted cities and financiers, and favored states' rights and a strictly limited federal government. Jefferson supported the separation of church and state[2] and was the author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779, 1786). He was the eponym of Jeffersonian democracy and the co-founder and leader of the Democratic-Republican Party, which dominated American politics for a quarter-century. Jefferson served as the wartime Governor of Virginia (1779–1781), first United States Secretary of State (1789–1793) and second Vice President (1797–1801).

A polymath, Jefferson achieved distinction as, among other things, a horticulturist, statesman, architect, archaeologist, inventor, and founder of the University of Virginia. When President John F. Kennedy welcomed forty-nine Nobel Prize winners to the White House in 1962 he said, "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House – with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."[3] To date, Jefferson is the only president to serve two full terms in office to veto no bill of Congress. Jefferson has been consistently ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. presidents.


Early life and education


Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743[1] 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, first cousin to Peyton Randolph, and granddaughter of wealthy English gentry. Jefferson's father was Peter Jefferson, a planter and surveyor in Albemarle County (Shadwell, then Edge Hill, Virginia.) He was of Welsh descent. When Colonel William Randolph, an old friend of Peter Jefferson, died in 1745, Peter assumed executorship and personal charge of William Randolph's estate in Tuckahoe as well as his infant son, Thomas Mann Randolph. That same year the Jeffersons relocated to Tuckahoe where they would remain for the next seven years before returning to their home in Albemarle. Peter Jefferson was then appointed to the Colonelcy of the county, an important position at the time.[4]


In 1752, Jefferson began attending a local school run by William Douglas, a Scottish minister. At the age of nine, Jefferson began studying Latin, Greek, and French. In 1757, when he was 14 years old, his father died. Jefferson inherited about 5,000 acres (20 km²) of land and dozens of slaves. He built his home there, which eventually became known as Monticello.

After his father's death, he was taught at the school of the learned minister James Maury from 1758 to 1760. The school was in Fredericksville Parish near Gordonsville, Virginia, twelve miles (19 km) from Shadwell, and Jefferson boarded with Maury's family. There he received a classical education and studied history and science.

In 1760 Jefferson entered the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg at the age of 16; he studied there for two years, graduating with highest honors in 1762. At William & Mary, he enrolled in the philosophy school and studied mathematics, metaphysics, and philosophy under Professor William Small, who introduced the enthusiastic Jefferson to the writings of the British Empiricists, including John Locke, Francis Bacon, and Isaac Newton (Jefferson called them the "three greatest men the world had ever produced").[5] He also perfected his French, carried his Greek grammar book wherever he went, practiced the violin, and read Tacitus and Homer. A keen and diligent student, Jefferson displayed an avid curiosity in all fields and, according to the family tradition, frequently studied fifteen hours a day. His closest college friend, John Page of Rosewell, reported that Jefferson "could tear himself away from his dearest friends to fly to his studies."

While in college, Jefferson was a member of a secret organization called the Flat Hat Club, now the namesake of the William & Mary student newspaper. He lodged and boarded at the College in the building known today as the Sir Christopher Wren Building, attending communal meals in the Great Hall, and morning and evening prayers in the Wren Chapel. Jefferson often attended the lavish parties of royal governor Francis Fauquier, where he played his violin and developed an early love for wines.[6] After graduating in 1762 with highest honors, he read law with George Wythe and was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1767.

After college

On October 1, 1765, Jefferson's oldest sister Jane died at the age of 25.[7] Jefferson fell into a period of deep mourning, as he was already saddened by the absence of his sisters Mary, who had been married several years to Thomas Bolling, and Martha, who had wed earlier in July to Dabney Carr.[7] Both had moved to their husbands' residences, leaving younger siblings Elizabeth, Lucy, and the two toddlers as his companions. Jefferson was not comforted by the presence of Elizabeth or Lucy as they did not provide him with the same intellectual stimulation as his older siblings had.[7]

Jefferson would go on to handle many cases as a lawyer in colonial Virginia, managing more than a hundred cases each year between 1768 and 1773 in General Court alone, while acting as counsel in hundreds of cases.[8] Jefferson's client list included members of the Virginia's elite families, including members of his mother's family, the Randolphs.[8]

Marriage and family

In 1772, at age 29 Jefferson married the 23-year-old widow Martha Wayles Skelton. They had six children: Martha Jefferson Randolph (1772–1836), Jane Randolph (1774–1775), a stillborn or unnamed son (1777), Mary Jefferson Eppes (1778–1804), Lucy Elizabeth (1780–1781), and Elizabeth (1782–1785). Martha died on September 6, 1782. Although Jefferson was only 39 at her death, he never remarried.

Jefferson is believed to have taken an enslaved woman as a companion, as other wealthy widowers had done. He had a nearly four decades-long relationship with Sally Hemings, a young quadroon believed to have been a half-sister to his late wife. (They were both the children of John Wayles, and Sally's mother Betty Hemings was mixed-race. Wayles had started a relationship with Betty Hemings after becoming a widower.) DNA testing has supported the weight of historical evidence pointing to the relationship, and the conclusion that Jefferson was the father of Sally's six mixed-race children (who were of seven-eighths white ancestry). Four of the children survived: Beverley, Harriet, Madison and Eston, and Jefferson freed all of them at about age 21. His daughter gave Sally Hemings "her time" after Jefferson's death, so the entire Hemings nuclear family left Monticello as free persons, the only slave family to do so.[9]

(see Jefferson DNA data).

Political career from 1774 to 1800

Rudolph Evans's statue of Jefferson with excerpts from the Declaration of Independence to the right.

Towards revolution

In addition to practicing law, Jefferson also represented Albemarle County in the Virginia House of Burgesses beginning in 1769. Following the passage of the Coercive Acts by the British Parliament in 1774, he wrote a set of resolutions against the acts, which were expanded into A Summary View of the Rights of British America, his first published work. Previous criticism of the Coercive Acts had focused on legal and constitutional issues, but Jefferson offered the radical notion that the colonists had the natural right to govern themselves.[10] Jefferson also argued that Parliament was the legislature of Great Britain only, and had no legislative authority in the colonies.[10] The paper was intended to serve as instructions for the Virginia delegation of the First Continental Congress, but Jefferson's ideas proved to be too radical for that body.[10] Nevertheless, the pamphlet helped provide the theoretical framework for American independence, and marked Jefferson as one of the most thoughtful patriot spokesmen.

Drafting a declaration

Jefferson served as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress beginning in June 1775, soon after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. When Congress began considering a resolution of independence in June 1776, Jefferson was appointed to a five-man committee to prepare a declaration to accompany the resolution. The committee selected Jefferson to write the first draft probably because of his reputation as a writer. The assignment was considered routine; no one at the time thought that it was a major responsibility.[11] Jefferson completed a draft in consultation with other committee members, drawing on his own proposed draft of the Virginia Constitution, George Mason's draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, and other sources.[12]

Jefferson showed his draft to the committee, which made some final revisions, and then presented it to Congress on June 28, 1776. After voting in favor of the resolution of independence on July 2, Congress turned its attention to the declaration. Over several days of debate, Congress made a few changes in wording and deleted nearly a fourth of the text, most notably a passage critical of the slave trade, changes that Jefferson resented.[13] On July 4, 1776, the wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved. The Declaration would eventually become Jefferson's major claim to fame, and his eloquent preamble became an enduring statement of human rights.[13]

State legislator

In John Trumbull's painting Declaration of Independence, the five-man drafting committee is presenting its work to the Continental Congress. Jefferson is the tall figure in the center laying the Declaration on the desk.

In September 1776, Jefferson returned to Virginia and was elected to the new Virginia House of Delegates. During his term in the House, Jefferson set out to reform and update Virginia's system of laws to reflect its new status as a democratic state. He drafted 126 bills in three years, including laws to abolish primogeniture, establish freedom of religion, and streamline the judicial system. In 1778, Jefferson's "Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge" led to several academic reforms at his alma mater, including an elective system of study—the first in an American university.

While in the state legislature Jefferson proposed a bill to eliminate all crimes punishable to death in Virginia except murder and treason. His effort to reform the death penalty law was defeated by just one vote,[14] and Virginia retained such crimes as rape as punishable by death until the 1960s.[15]

Governor of Virginia

Jefferson served as governor of Virginia from 1779–1781. As governor, he oversaw the transfer of the state capital from Williamsburg to the more central location of Richmond in 1780. He continued to advocate educational reforms at the College of William and Mary, including the nation's first student-policed honor code. In 1779, at Jefferson's behest, William and Mary appointed George Wythe to be the first professor of law in an American university. Dissatisfied with the rate of changes he wanted to push through, he later became the founder of the University of Virginia, which was the first university in the United States at which higher education was completely separate from religious doctrine.

Virginia was invaded twice by the British during Jefferson's term as governor. He, along with Patrick Henry and other leaders of Virginia, were but ten minutes away from being captured by Banastre Tarleton, a British colonel leading a cavalry column that was raiding the area in June 1781.[16] Public disapproval of his performance delayed his future political prospects, and he was never again elected to office in Virginia.[17]

Minister to France

Memorial plaque on the Champs-Élysées, Paris, France, marking where Jefferson lived while he was Minister to France. The plaque was erected after World War I to commemorate the centenary of Jefferson's founding of the University of Virginia.

Because Jefferson served as minister to France from 1785 to 1789, he was not able to attend the Philadelphia Convention. He generally supported the new constitution despite the lack of a bill of rights and was kept informed by his correspondence with James Madison.

While in Paris, he lived in a residence on the Champs-Élysées. He spent much of his time exploring the architectural sites of the city, as well as enjoying the fine arts that Paris had to offer. He became a favorite in the salon culture and was a frequent dinner guest of many of the city's most prominent people. In addition, he frequently entertained others from French and European society. He and his daughters were accompanied by two slaves of the Hemings family from Monticello. Jefferson paid for James Hemings to be trained as a French chef. (Hemings later accompanied Jefferson as chef when he was in Philadelphia.) Sally Hemings, James' sister, had accompanied Jefferson's younger daughter overseas. Jefferson is believed to have begun his long-term relationship with Sally Hemings in Paris. Both the Hemings learned French during their time in the city.[18]

In 1784/85 Jefferson was one of the architects of trade relations between the US and Prussia. The Prussian ambassador Friedrich Wilhelm von Thulemeyer and John Adams, both living in the Hague, and Benjamin Franklin in Paris, were also involved.[19]

Despite his numerous friendships with the social and noble elite, when the French Revolution began in 1789, Jefferson sided with the revolutionaries.

Secretary of State

After returning from France, Jefferson served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington (1790–1793). Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton began sparring over national fiscal policy, especially the funding of the debts of the war, with Hamilton believing that the debts should be equally shared, and Jefferson believing that each state should be responsible for its own debt (Virginia had not accumulated much debt during the Revolution). In further sparring with the Federalists, Jefferson came to equate Hamilton and the rest of the Federalists with Tories and monarchists who threatened to undermine republicanism. He equated Federalism with "Royalism," and made a point to state that "Hamiltonians were panting after...and itching for crowns, coronets and mitres."[20] Jefferson and James Madison founded and led the Democratic-Republican Party. He worked with Madison and his campaign manager John J. Beckley to build a nationwide network of Republican allies to combat Federalists across the country.

Jefferson strongly supported France against Britain when war broke out between those nations in 1793. Historian Lawrence S. Kaplan notes Jefferson's "visceral support for the French cause," while agreeing with Washington that the nation should not get involved in the fighting.[21] The arrival in 1793 of an aggressive new French minister, Edmond-Charles Genêt, caused a crisis for the Secretary of State, as he watched Genêt try to violate American neutrality, manipulate public opinion, and even go over Washington's head in appealing to the people; projects that Jefferson helped to thwart. According to Schachner, Jefferson believed that political success at home depended on the success of the French army in Europe:[22]

Thomas Jefferson, aquatint by Tadeusz Kościuszko
Jefferson still clung to his sympathies with France and hoped for the success of her arms abroad and a cordial compact with her at home. He was afraid that any French reverses on the European battlefields would give "wonderful vigor to our monocrats, and unquestionably affect the tone of administering our government. Indeed, I fear that if this summer should prove disastrous to the French, it will damp that energy of republicanism in our new Congress, from which I had hoped so much reformation."

Break from office

Jefferson at the end of 1793 retired to Monticello where he continued to orchestrate opposition to Hamilton and Washington. However, the Jay Treaty of 1794, orchestrated by Hamilton, brought peace and trade with Britain – while Madison, with strong support from Jefferson, wanted, Miller says, "to strangle the former mother country" without actually going to war. "It became an article of faith among Republicans that 'commercial weapons' would suffice to bring Great Britain to any terms the United States chose to dictate." Jefferson, in retirement, strongly encouraged Madison.[23]

Election of 1796 and Vice Presidency

As the Democratic-Republican candidate in 1796 he lost to John Adams, but had enough electoral votes to become Vice President (1797–1801). He wrote a manual of parliamentary procedure, but otherwise avoided the Senate.

Painting of Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale (1805)

With the Quasi-War, an undeclared naval war with France, underway, the Federalists under John Adams started a navy, built up the army, levied new taxes, readied for war, and enacted the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. Jefferson interpreted the Alien and Sedition Acts as an attack on his party more than on dangerous enemy aliens; they were used to attack his party, with the most notable attacks coming from Matthew Lyon, congressman of Vermont. He and Madison rallied support by anonymously writing the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which declared that the federal government had no right to exercise powers not specifically delegated to it by the states. The Resolutions meant that, should the federal government assume such powers, its acts under them could be voided by a state. The Resolutions presented the first statements of the states' rights theory, that later led to the concepts of nullification and interposition.

Election of 1800

Working closely with Aaron Burr of New York, Jefferson rallied his party, attacking the new taxes especially, and ran for the Presidency in 1800. Consistent with the traditions of the times, he did not formally campaign for the position. Prior to the passage of the 12th Amendment, a problem with the new union's electoral system arose. He tied with Burr for first place in the electoral college, leaving the House of Representatives (where the Federalists still had some power) to decide the election.

After lengthy debate within the Federalist-controlled House, Hamilton convinced his party that Jefferson would be a lesser political evil than Burr and that such scandal within the electoral process would undermine the still-young regime. The issue was resolved by the House, on February 17, 1801 after thirty-six ballots, when Jefferson was elected President and Burr Vice President. Burr's refusal to remove himself from consideration created ill will with Jefferson, who dropped Burr from the ticket in 1804 after Burr killed Hamilton in a duel.

Presidency 1801–1809

Jefferson repealed many federal taxes, and sought to rely mainly on customs revenue. He pardoned people who had been imprisoned under the Alien and Sedition Acts, passed in John Adams's term, which Jefferson believed to be unconstitutional. He repealed the Judiciary Act 1801 and removed many of Adams's "midnight judges" from office, which led to the Supreme Court deciding the important case of Marbury v. Madison. He began and won the First Barbary War (1801-1805), America's first significant overseas war, and established the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1802.

In 1803, despite his misgivings about the constitutionality of Congress's power to buy land, Jefferson purchased Louisiana from France, doubling the size of the United States. The land thus acquired amounts to 23 percent of the United States today.[24]

In 1807 his former vice president, Aaron Burr, was tried for treason on Jefferson's order, but was acquitted. During the trial Chief Justice John Marshall subpoenaed Jefferson, who invoked executive privilege and claimed that as president he did not need to comply. When Marshall held that the Constitution did not provide the president with any exception to the duty to obey a court order, Jefferson backed down.

Jefferson's reputation was damaged by the Embargo Act of 1807, which was ineffective and was repealed at the end of his second term.

Administration, Cabinet and Supreme Court appointments 1801-1809

The Jefferson Cabinet
Office Name Term
President Thomas Jefferson 1801–1809
Vice President Aaron Burr 1801–1805
George Clinton 1805–1809
Secretary of State James Madison 1801–1809
Secretary of Treasury Samuel Dexter 1801
Albert Gallatin 1801–1809
Secretary of War Henry Dearborn 1801–1809
Attorney General Levi Lincoln, Sr. 1801–1804
John Breckinridge 1805–1806
Caesar A. Rodney 1807–1809
Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Stoddert 1801
Robert Smith 1801–1809

Associate Justice

States admitted to the Union:

  • Ohio – March 1, 1803
Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1800

Native American policy

Jefferson was the first President to propose the idea a formal Indian Removal plan.[25][26]

Andrew Jackson is often erroneously credited with initiating Indian Removal, because Congress passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, during his presidency, and also because of his personal involvement in the forceful extermination and removal of many Eastern tribes.[25] But Jackson was merely legalizing and implementing a plan laid out by Jefferson in a series of private letters that began in 1803 (for example, see letter to William Henry Harrison below).[25]

Jefferson's first promotions of Indian Removal were between 1776 and 1779, when he recommended forcing the Cherokee and Shawnee tribes to be driven out of their ancestral homelands to lands west of the Mississippi River.[25]

His first such act as president, was to make a deal with the state of Georgia that if Georgia were to release its legal claims to discovery in lands to the west, then the U.S. military would help forcefully expel the Cherokee people from Georgia. At the time, the Cherokee had a treaty with the United States government which guaranteed them the right to their lands, which was violated in Jefferson's deal with Georgia.[25]

Acculturation and assimilation

Jefferson's original plan was for Natives to give up their own cultures, religions, and lifestyles in favor of western European culture, Christian religion, and a sedentary agricultural lifestyle.[25][26]

Jefferson's expectation was that by assimilating them into an agricultural lifestyle and stripping them of self-sufficiency, they would become economically dependent on trade with white Americans, and would thereby be willing to give up land that they would otherwise not part with, in exchange for trade goods or to resolve unpaid debts.[27] In an 1803 letter to William Henry Harrison, Jefferson wrote:

To promote this disposition to exchange lands, which they have to spare and we want, for necessaries, which we have to spare and they want, we shall push our trading uses, and be glad to see the good and influential individuals among them run in debt, because we observe that when these debts get beyond what the individuals can pay, they become willing to lop them off by a cession of lands.... In this way our settlements will gradually circumscribe and approach the Indians, and they will in time either incorporate with us a citizens or the United States, or remove beyond the Mississippi. The former is certainly the termination of their history most happy for themselves; but, in the whole course of this, it is essential to cultivate their love. As to their fear, we presume that our strength and their weakness is now so visible that they must see we have only to shut our hand to crush them, and that all our liberalities to them proceed from motives of pure humanity only. Should any tribe be foolhardy enough to take up the hatchet at any time, the seizing the whole country of that tribe, and driving them across the Mississippi, as the only condition of peace, would be an example to others, and a furtherance of our final consolidation.[27]

Forced removal and extermination

In cases where Native tribes resisted assimilation, Jefferson believed that they should be forcefully removed from their land.[25] Tribes that violently resisted forced enculturation or removal faced the threat of extermination by American military forces. As Jefferson put it in a letter to Alexander von Humboldt in 1813:

You know, my friend, the benevolent plan we were pursuing here for the happiness of the aboriginal inhabitants in our vicinities. We spared nothing to keep them at peace with one another. To teach them agriculture and the rudiments of the most necessary arts, and to encourage industry by establishing among them separate property. In this way they would have been enabled to subsist and multiply on a moderate scale of landed possession. They would have mixed their blood with ours, and been amalgamated and identified with us within no distant period of time. On the commencement of our present war, we pressed on them the observance of peace and neutrality, but the interested and unprincipled policy of England has defeated all our labors for the salvation of these unfortunate people. They have seduced the greater part of the tribes within our neighborhood, to take up the hatchet against us, and the cruel massacres they have committed on the women and children of our frontiers taken by surprise, will oblige us now to pursue them to extermination, or drive them to new seats beyond our reach.[28]

Or more succinctly, as Jefferson wrote in a letter to his Secretary of War, General Henry Dearborn (who was the primary government official responsible for managing Indian Affairs during Jefferson's presidency): "if we are constrained to lift the hatchet against any tribe, we will never lay it down until that tribe is exterminated, or driven beyond the Mississipi."[29]

Father of a university

Also see: History of the University of Virginia
The Lawn, University of Virginia.

After leaving the Presidency, Jefferson continued to be active in public affairs. He also became increasingly concerned with founding a new institution of higher learning, specifically one free of church influences where students could specialize in many new areas not offered at other universities. Jefferson believed educating people was a good way to establish an organized society, and also felt schools should be paid for by the general public, so less wealthy people could obtain student membership as well.[30] A letter to Joseph Priestley, in January, 1800, indicated that he had been planning the University for decades before its establishment.

His dream was realized in 1819 with the founding of the University of Virginia. Upon its opening in 1825, it was then the first university to offer a full slate of elective courses to its students. One of the largest construction projects to that time in North America, it was notable for being centered about a library rather than a church. In fact, no campus chapel was included in his original plans. Until his death, Jefferson invited students and faculty of the school to his home.

Jefferson is widely recognized for his architectural planning of the University of Virginia grounds, an innovative design that is a powerful representation of his aspirations for both state sponsored education and an agrarian democracy in the new Republic. His educational idea of creating specialized units of learning is physically expressed in the configuration of his campus plan, which he called the "Academical Village." Individual academic units are expressed visually as distinct structures, represented by Pavilions, facing a grassy quadrangle, with each Pavilion housing classroom, faculty office, and residences. Though unique, each is visually equal in importance, and they are linked together with a series of open air arcades that are the front facades of student accommodations. Gardens and vegetable plots are placed behind surrounded by serpentine walls, affirming the importance of the agrarian lifestyle.

His highly ordered site plan establishes an ensemble of buildings surrounding a central rectangular quadrangle, named The Lawn, which is lined on either side with the academic teaching units and their linking arcades. The quad is enclosed at one end with the library, the repository of knowledge, at the head of the table. The remaining side opposite the library remained open-ended for future growth. The lawn rises gradually as a series of stepped terraces, each a few feet higher than the last, rising up to the library set in the most prominent position at the top, while also suggesting that the Academical Village facilitates easier movement to the future.

Stylistically, Jefferson was a proponent of the Greek and Roman styles, which he believed to be most representative of American democracy by historical association. Each academic unit is designed with a two story temple front facing the quadrangle, while the library is modeled on the Roman Pantheon. The ensemble of buildings surrounding the quad is an unmistakable architectural statement of the importance of secular public education, while the exclusion of religious structures reinforces the principle of separation of church and state. The campus planning and architectural treatment remains today as a paradigm of the ordering of manmade structures to express intellectual ideas and aspirations. A survey of members of the American Institute of Architects identified Jefferson's campus as the most significant work of architecture in America.

The University was designed as the capstone of the educational system of Virginia. In his vision, any citizen of the commonwealth could attend school with the sole criterion being ability.


Jefferson's gravesite.

Jefferson died on the Fourth of July, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. He died a few hours before the death of John Adams, his compatriot in their quest for independence, then great political rival, and later friend and correspondent. Adams is often rumored to have referenced Jefferson in his last words, unaware of his passing.[31]

Although he was born into one of the wealthiest families in the United States, Thomas Jefferson was deeply in debt when he died.

Jefferson's trouble began when his father-in-law died, and he and his brothers-in-law quickly divided the estate before its debts were settled. It made each of them liable for the whole amount due – which turned out to be more than they expected.

Jefferson sold land before the American Revolution to pay off the debts, but by the time he received payment, the paper money was worthless amid the skyrocketing inflation of the war years. Cornwallis ravaged Jefferson's plantation during the war, and British creditors resumed their collection efforts when the conflict ended. Jefferson suffered another financial setback when he co-signed notes for a relative who reneged on debts in the financial Panic of 1819. Only Jefferson's public stature prevented creditors from seizing Monticello and selling it out from under him during his lifetime.

After his death, his possessions were sold at auction. In 1831, Jefferson's 552 acres (223 hectares) were sold to James T. Barclay for $7,000- equivalent to $141,181.00 today.[32] Thomas Jefferson is buried on his Monticello estate, in Charlottesville, Virginia. In his will, he left Monticello to the United States to be used as a school for orphans of navy officers. His epitaph, written by him with an insistence that only his words and "not a word more" be inscribed, reads:


Below the epitaph on a separate panel is written:

BORN APRIL 2 1743 O.S.
DIED JULY 4 1826

The initials O.S. are a notation for Old Style and that is a reference to the change of dating that occurred during Jefferson's lifetime from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar under the British Calendar (New Style) Act 1750.[33]

Appearance and temperament

Jefferson was a thin, tall man, who stood at approximately six feet and remarkably straight.[34]

"The Sage of Monticello" cultivated an image that earned him the other nickname, "Man of the People." He affected a popular air by greeting White House guests in homespun attire like a robe and slippers. Dolley Madison, wife of James Madison (Jefferson's secretary of state), and Jefferson's daughters relaxed White House protocol and turned formal state dinners into more casual and entertaining social events.[35] Although a foremost defender of a free press, Jefferson at times sparred with partisan newspapers and appealed to the people.[36]

Jefferson's writings were utilitarian and evidenced great intellect, and he had an affinity for languages. He learned Gaelic in order to translate Ossian, and sent to James Macpherson for the originals.

As President, he discontinued the practice of delivering the State of the Union Address in person, instead sending the address to Congress in writing (the practice was eventually revived by Woodrow Wilson); he gave only two public speeches during his Presidency. Jefferson had a lisp[37] and preferred writing to public speaking partly because of this. He burned all of his letters between himself and his wife at her death, creating the portrait of a man who at times could be very private. Indeed, he preferred working in the privacy of his office than the public eye.[38]

Interests and activities

Jefferson was an accomplished architect who was extremely influential in bringing the Neo-Palladian style—popular among the Whig aristocracy of Britain—to the United States. The style was associated with Enlightenment ideas of republican civic virtue and political liberty. Jefferson designed his home Monticello near Charlottesville, Virginia. Nearby is the University of Virginia, the only university ever to have been founded by a U.S. president. Jefferson designed the architecture of the first buildings as well as the original curriculum and residential style. Monticello and the University of Virginia are together one of only four man-made World Heritage Sites in the United States of America.

Jefferson also designed Poplar Forest, near Lynchburg, in Bedford County, Virginia, as a private retreat from his very public life. Jefferson contributed to the design of the Virginia State Capitol building, which was modeled after the Maison Carrée, an ancient Roman temple at Nîmes in southern France. Jefferson's buildings helped initiate the ensuing American fashion for Federal architecture.

Jefferson invented many small practical devices, such as a rotating book stand and a "polygraph" that made a copy of a letter as he wrote the original.[39] Monticello included automatic doors, the first swivel chair, and other convenient devices invented by Jefferson.

Jefferson's interests included archeology, a discipline then in its infancy. He has sometimes been called the "father of archeology" in recognition of his role in developing excavation techniques. When exploring an Indian burial mound on his Virginia estate in 1784, Jefferson avoided the common practice of simply digging downwards until something turned up. Instead, he cut a wedge out of the mound so that he could walk into it, look at the layers of occupation, and draw conclusions from them.


Thomas Jefferson enjoyed his fish pond at Monticello. It was about three feet (1 m) deep and mortar lined. He used the pond to keep fish which were recently caught as well as to keep eels fresh. Recently restored, the pond can be seen from the west side of Monticello.

In 1780, he joined Benjamin Franklin's American Philosophical Society. He served as president of the society from 1797 to 1815.

Jefferson was interested in birds. His Notes on Virginia contains a list of the birds found in his home state, though there are "doubtless many others which have not yet been described and classed." He also comments that the drawings of Virginia birds by the English naturalist Mark Catesby "are better as to form and attitude, than colouring, which is generally too high."

Jefferson was an avid wine lover and noted gourmet. During his years in France (1784–1789), he took extensive trips through French and other European wine regions, and purchased wine to send back to the United States. He is noted for the bold pronouncement: "We could in the United States make as great a variety of wines as are made in Europe, not exactly of the same kinds, but doubtless as good." While there were extensive vineyards planted at Monticello, a significant portion were of the European wine grape Vitis vinifera and did not survive the many vine diseases native to the Americas.

In 1801, he published A Manual of Parliamentary Practice that is still in use. In 1812 Jefferson published a second edition.

After the British burned Washington, D.C. and the Library of Congress in August 1814, Jefferson offered his own collection of books to the nation. In January 1815, Congress accepted his offer, appropriating $23,950 for his 6,487 books. The foundation was laid for a great national library. Today, the Library of Congress' website for federal legislative information is named THOMAS, in honor of Jefferson.[40] In 2007, Jefferson's two-volume 1764 edition of the Qur'an was used by Rep. Keith Ellison for his swearing in to the House of Representatives.[41]

Political philosophy

In his May 28, 1818 letter to Mordecai Manuel Noah, Jefferson expressed his faith in mankind and his views on the nature of democracy.

Jefferson was a leader in developing republicanism in the United States. He insisted that the British aristocratic system was inherently corrupt and that Americans' devotion to civic virtue required independence. In the 1790s he repeatedly warned that Hamilton and Adams were trying to impose a British-like monarchical system that threatened republicanism. He supported the War of 1812, hoping it would drive away the British military and ideological threat from Canada. Jefferson's vision for American virtue was that of an agricultural nation of yeoman farmers minding their own affairs. It stood in contrast to the vision of Alexander Hamilton, who envisioned a nation of commerce and manufacturing, which Jefferson said offered too many temptations to corruption. Jefferson's deep belief in the uniqueness and the potential of America made him the father of American exceptionalism. In particular, he was confident that an under-populated America could avoid what he considered the horrors of class-divided, industrialized Europe.

Jefferson's republican political principles were heavily influenced by the Country Party of 18th century British opposition writers. He was influenced by John Locke (particularly relating to the principle of inalienable rights). Historians find few traces of any influence by his French contemporary, Jean-Jacques Rousseau.[42]

His opposition to the Bank of the United States was fierce: "I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale."[43] Nevertheless Madison and Congress, seeing the financial chaos caused by the lack of a national bank in the War of 1812, disregarded his advice and created the Second Bank of the United States in 1816.

Jefferson believed that each individual has "certain inalienable rights." That is, these rights exist with or without government; man cannot create, take, or give them away. It is the right of "liberty" on which Jefferson is most notable for expounding. He defines it by saying "rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual."[44] Hence, for Jefferson, though government cannot create a right to liberty, it can indeed violate it. And the limit of an individual's rightful liberty is not what law says it is but is simply a matter of stopping short of prohibiting other individuals from having the same liberty. A proper government, for Jefferson, is one that not only prohibits individuals in society from infringing on the liberty of other individuals, but also restrains itself from diminishing individual liberty.

Jefferson's commitment to equality was expressed in his successful efforts to abolish primogeniture in Virginia, the rule by which the first born son inherited all the land.[45]

Jefferson believed that individuals have an innate sense of morality that prescribes right from wrong when dealing with other individuals—that whether they choose to restrain themselves or not, they have an innate sense of the natural rights of others. He even believed that moral sense to be reliable enough that an anarchist society could function well, provided that it was reasonably small. On several occasions, he expressed admiration for tribal, communal way of living of Native Americans:[46] In fact, Jefferson is sometimes seen as a philosophical anarchist.[47]

He said in a letter to Colonel Carrington: "I am convinced that those societies (as the Indians) which live without government, enjoy in their general mass an infinitely greater degree of happiness than those who live under the European governments." However, Jefferson believed anarchism to be "inconsistent with any great degree of population."[48] Hence, he did advocate government for the American expanse provided that it exists by "consent of the governed."

In the Preamble to his original draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson wrote:

We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these ends, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government shall become destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, & to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles & organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety & happiness.[49]

Jefferson's dedication to "consent of the governed" was so thorough that he believed that individuals could not be morally bound by the actions of preceding generations. This included debts as well as law. He said that "no society can make a perpetual constitution or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation." He even calculated what he believed to be the proper cycle of legal revolution: "Every constitution then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of nineteen years. If it is to be enforced longer, it is an act of force, and not of right." He arrived at nineteen years through calculations with expectancy of life tables, taking into account what he believed to be the age of "maturity"—when an individual is able to reason for himself.[50] He also advocated that the national debt should be eliminated. He did not believe that living individuals had a moral obligation to repay the debts of previous generations. He said that repaying such debts was "a question of generosity and not of right."[51]

Jefferson's very strong defense of States' rights, especially in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, set the tone for hostility to expansion of federal powers. However, some of his foreign policies did in fact strengthen the government. Most important was the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, when he used the implied powers to annex a huge foreign territory and all its French and Indian inhabitants. His enforcement of the Embargo Act of 1807, while it failed in terms of foreign policy, demonstrated that the federal government could intervene with great force at the local level in controlling trade that might lead to war.

Views on the carrying of arms

Jefferson's commitment to liberty extended to many areas of individual freedom. In his "Commonplace Book," he copied a passage from Cesare, Marquis of Beccaria related to the issue of gun control. The quote reads, "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms ... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes ... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."[52][53][54]

View on corporations

Jefferson in 1816 wrote to George Logan,

In this respect England exhibits the most remarkable phenomenon in the universe in the contrast between the profligacy of it's government and the probity of it's citizens. And accordingly it is now exhibiting an example of the truth of the maxim that virtue & interest are inseparable. It ends, as might have been expected, in the ruin of it's people, but this ruin will fall heaviest, as it ought to fall on that hereditary aristocracy which has for generations been preparing the catastrophe. I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in it's birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.[55]

Views on the judiciary

Trained as a lawyer, Jefferson was a great writer but never a good speaker or advocate and never comfortable in court. He believed that judges should be technical specialists but should not set policy. He denounced the 1803 Supreme Court ruling in Marbury v. Madison as a violation of democracy, but he did not have enough support in Congress to propose a Constitutional amendment to overturn it. He continued to oppose the doctrine of judicial review:

To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps. Their maxim is boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem [good justice is broad jurisdiction], and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.[56]

Views on rebellion to restrain government and retain individual rights

After the Revolutionary War, Jefferson advocated restraining government via rebellion and violence when necessary, in order to protect individual freedoms. In a letter to James Madison on January 30, 1787, Jefferson wrote, "A little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical…It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government."[57] Similarly, in a letter to Abigail Adams on February 22, 1787 he wrote, "The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all."[58]

Concerning the Shays' Rebellion after he had heard of the bloodshed, on November 13, 1787 Jefferson wrote to William S. Smith, John Adams's son-in-law, "What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."[59] And in another letter to William S. Smith during 1787, Jefferson wrote:

And what country can preserve its liberties, if the rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.[60]

View on self-esteem

In a letter to Francis Hopkinson of March 13, 1789, Jefferson wrote:[61]

I never had an opinion in politics or religion which I was afraid to own. A costive reserve on these subjects might have procured me more esteem from some people, but less from myself.

Views on women in politics

Jefferson was not an advocate of women's suffrage; author Richard Morris wrote, "Abigail Adams excepted, Jefferson detested intellectual women. Annoyed by the political chatter of women in Parisian salons, he wrote home expressing the hope that 'our good ladies ... are contented to soothe and calm the minds of their husbands returning ruffled from political debate.'" While President, Jefferson wrote that "The appointment of a woman to office is an innovation for which the public is not prepared, nor am I."[62]

Religious views

Though his religious views diverged widely from the orthodox Christianity of his day, throughout his life Jefferson was intensely interested in theology, and biblical study. [63] His religious commitment is probably best summarized in his own words, as he proclaimed that he belonged to a sect with just one member.

Early views

Jefferson was raised in the Church of England at a time when it was the established church in Virginia and the only denomination funded by Virginia tax money. Theologian Avery Dulles reports, "In his college years at William and Mary [Jefferson] came to admire Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, and John Locke as three great paragons of wisdom. Under the influence of several professors he converted to the deist philosophy."[64] Dulles concludes:

In summary, then, Jefferson was a deist because he believed in one God, in divine providence, in the divine moral law, and in rewards and punishments after death; but did not believe in supernatural revelation. He was a Christian deist because he saw Christianity as the highest expression of natural religion and Jesus as an incomparably great moral teacher. He was not an orthodox Christian because he rejected, among other things, the doctrines that Jesus was the promised Messiah and the incarnate Son of God. Jefferson's religion is fairly typical of the American form of deism in his day.

Second Continental Congress

The Declaration of Independence incorporates concepts from Deism.

Before the Revolution, Jefferson was a vestryman in his local church, a lay position that was informally tied to political office at the time. He also had friends who were clergy, and he supported some churches financially.

At the start of the Revolution it appears that Jefferson employed theist terminology in the United States Declaration of Independence where he wrote the words "Creator" and "Nature's God." Jefferson believed, furthermore, it was this Creator that endowed humanity with a number of inalienable rights, such as "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

In 1776 Jefferson also proposed a motto for the United States Seal. His proposal was, "Rebellion to tyrants is Obedience to God." He suggested that the seal should feature an image of the Biblical Hebrews being rescued by God via the Red Sea.

Separating Church and State

For Jefferson, separation of church and state was a necessary reform of the religious "tyranny" whereby a religion received state endorsement, and those not of that religion were denied rights, and even punished.

Following the Revolution, Jefferson played a leading role in establishing freedom of religion in Virginia. Previously the Anglican Church had tax support. As he wrote in his Notes on Virginia, a law was in effect in Virginia that "if a person brought up a Christian denies the being of a God, or the Trinity ...he is punishable on the first offense by incapacity to hold any office ...; on the second by a disability to sue, to take any gift or legacy ..., and by three year' imprisonment." Prospective officer-holders were required to swear that they did not believe in the central Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.

From 1784 to 1786, Jefferson and James Madison worked together to oppose Patrick Henry's attempts to again assess taxes in Virginia to support churches. Instead, in 1786, the Virginia General Assembly passed Jefferson's Bill for Religious Freedom, which he had first submitted in 1779 and was one of only three accomplishments he put in his own epitaph. The law read:

No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.[65]

In his 1787 Notes on the State of Virginia, Jefferson stated: "Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make half the world fools and half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the world..."

Jefferson sought what he called a "wall of separation between Church and State," which he believed was a principle expressed by the First Amendment. This phrase has been cited several times by the Supreme Court in its interpretation of the Establishment Clause.[66] In an 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, he wrote:

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State.[67]

Regarding the choice of some governments to regulate religion and thought, Jefferson stated:

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.[68]

Deriving from this statement, Jefferson believed that the Government's relationship with the Church should be indifferent, religion being neither persecuted nor give any special status.

If anything pass in a religious meeting seditiously and contrary to the public peace, let it be punished in the same manner and no otherwise as it had happened in a fair or market[69]

Jefferson refused to issue proclamations calling for days of prayer and thanksgiving during his Presidency, yet as Governor in Virginia he did issue proclamations calling for days of prayer and thanksgiving. His private letters indicate he was skeptical of too much interference by clergy in matters of civil government. His letters contain the following observations: "History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government,"[70] and, "In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own."[71] "May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all), the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government."[72] While opposed to the institutions of organized religion, Jefferson invoked the notion of divine justice in his opposition to slavery: "Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice can not sleep forever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference!"[73]

While the debate over Jefferson's understanding over the separation of Church and state is far from being settled, as are his particular religious tenets, his dependence on divine Providence is not nearly as ambiguous. As he stated, in his second inaugural address:

I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with His providence and our riper years with His wisdom and power, and to whose goodness I ask you to join in supplications with me that He will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations.[74]


During the presidential campaign of 1800, the Federalists attacked Jefferson as an infidel and a Deist, claiming that Jefferson's intoxication with the religious and political extremism of the French Revolution disqualified him from public office. However, historian Edward Larson writes that, "Although Jefferson may have been a Deist at one time, by 1800 he probably was a Unitarian. His private writings from the period reveal a profound regard for Christ's moral teachings and a deep interest in the gospels and comparative religion."[75]

During his presidency, Jefferson attended the weekly church services held in the House of Representatives. He also permitted church services in executive branch buildings throughout his administration, one author writes that this was because Jefferson "believed that religion was a prop for republican government".[76]

From his careful study of the Bible, Jefferson concluded that Jesus never claimed to be God.[75] He therefore regarded much of the New Testament as "so much untruth, charlatanism and imposture".[77] He described the "roguery of others of His disciples", [78] and called them a "band of dupes and impostors", describing Paul as the "first corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus", and wrote of "palpable interpolations and falsifications".[78] He also described the Book of Revelation to be "merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams".[79] While living in the White House, Jefferson began to piece together his own condensed version of the Gospels, omitting the virgin birth of Jesus, miracles attributed to Jesus, divinity and the resurrection of Jesus. Thus, primarily leaving only Jesus' moral philosophy, of which he approved. This compilation titled The LIFE AND MORALS OF JESUS OF NAZARETH Extracted Textually from the Gospels Greek, Latin, French, and English was published after his death and became known as the Jefferson Bible.[80]

After his presidency

In 1803 Jefferson did not believe in the divinity of Jesus, but he had high esteem for Jesus's moral teachings, which he viewed as the "principles of a pure deism, and juster notions of the attributes of God, to reform [prior Jewish] moral doctrines to the standard of reason, justice & philanthropy, and to inculcate the belief of a future state."[81] Jefferson did not believe in miracles. Biographer Merrill D. Peterson summarizes Jefferson's theology:

First, that the Christianity of the churches was unreasonable, therefore unbelievable, but that stripped of priestly mystery, ritual, and dogma, reinterpreted in the light of historical evidence and human experience, and substituting the Newtonian cosmology for the discredited Biblical one, Christianity could be conformed to reason. Second, morality required no divine sanction or inspiration, no appeal beyond reason and nature, perhaps not even the hope of heaven or the fear of hell; and so the whole edifice of Christian revelation came tumbling to the ground.[82]

His experience in France just before the French Revolution made him deeply suspicious of Catholic priests and bishops as a force for reaction and ignorance. Similarly, his experience in America with inter-denominational intolerance served to reinforce this skeptical view of religion. In an 1820 letter to William Short, Jefferson wrote: "the serious enemies are the priests of the different religious sects, to whose spells on the human mind its improvement is ominous."[80]

In the 1820s Jefferson began to express general agreement with his friend Joseph Priestley's Unitarian form of Christianity. In an 1822 letter to Benjamin Waterhouse he wrote, "I rejoice that in this blessed country of free inquiry and belief, which has surrendered its conscience to neither kings or priests, the genuine doctrine of only one God is reviving, and I trust that there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die a Unitarian."[83]

In a 1825 letter to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, Jefferson wrote:

I am anxious to see the doctrine of one god commenced in our state. But the population of my neighborhood is too slender, and is too much divided into other sects to maintain any one preacher well. I must therefore be contented to be an Unitarian by myself, although I know there are many around me who would become so, if once they could hear the questions fairly stated..[84]

However, he never joined any Unitarian church or organization.

His last words were, "I resign myself to my God, and my child to my country."[85]

On slavery

Jefferson portrayed
on the U.S. Nickel

Jefferson was an outspoken abolitionist, but he owned many slaves over his lifetime. Although these facts seem baffling, biographers point out that Jefferson was deeply in debt and had encumbered his slaves by notes and mortgages; he could not free them until he was free of debt, which never happened.[86] As a result, Jefferson seems to have suffered pangs and trials of conscience. His ambivalence was also reflected in his treatment of those slaves who worked most closely with him and his family at Monticello and in other locations. He invested in having them trained and schooled in high quality skills.[87] He wrote about slavery, "We have the wolf by the ears; and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other."[88]

During his long career in public office, Jefferson tried many times to abolish or limit the advance of slavery. He sponsored and encouraged Free-State advocates like James Lemen.[89] According to a biographer, Jefferson "believed that it was the responsibility of the state and society to free all slaves."[90] In 1769, as a member of the House of Burgesses, Jefferson proposed for that body to emancipate slaves in Virginia, but he was unsuccessful.[91] In his first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson condemned the British crown for sponsoring the importation of slavery to the colonies, charging that the crown "has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere." However, this language was dropped from the Declaration at the request of delegates from South Carolina and Georgia.

In 1778, the legislature passed a bill he proposed to ban further importation of slaves into Virginia; although this did not bring complete emancipation, in his words, it "stopped the increase of the evil by importation, leaving to future efforts its final eradication." In 1784, his draft of what became the Northwest Ordinance stipulated that "there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude" in any of the new states admitted to the Union from the Northwest Territory.[92] In 1807, as President, he signed a bill abolishing the slave trade.

Jefferson attacked the institution of slavery in his Notes on the State of Virginia (1784):

There must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people produced by the existence of slavery among us. The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other.[93]

In this same work, Jefferson advanced his suspicion that black people were inferior to white people "in the endowments both of body and mind."[94] However, he also wrote in the same work that black people could have the right to live free in any country where people judge them by their nature, and not as just being good for labor.[95] He also wrote, "Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. [But] the two races...cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them."[35] According to historian Stephen Ambrose: "Jefferson, like all slaveholders and many other white members of American society, regarded Negroes as inferior, childlike, untrustworthy and, of course, as property. Jefferson, the genius of politics, could see no way for African Americans to live in society as free people." At the same time, he trusted them with his children, with preparation of his food and entertainment of high-ranking guests. So clearly he believed that some were trustworthy.[96] For a long-term solution, Jefferson believed that slaves should be freed then deported peacefully to African colonies. Otherwise, he feared war and that, in his words, "human nature must shudder at the prospect held up. We should in vain look for an example in the Spanish deportation or deletion of the Moors. This precedent would fall far short of our case."[97]

But on February 25, 1809, Jefferson repudiated his earlier view, writing in a letter to Abbé Grégoire:

Sir,—I have received the favor of your letter of August 17th, and with it the volume you were so kind to send me on the "Literature of Negroes." Be assured that no person living wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a complete refutation of the doubts I have myself entertained and expressed on the grade of understanding allotted to them by nature, and to find that in this respect they are on a par with ourselves. My doubts were the result of personal observation on the limited sphere of my own State, where the opportunity for the development of their genius were not favorable and those of exercising it still less so. I expressed them therefore with great hesitation; but whatever be their degree of talent it is no measure of their rights. Because Sir Isaac Newton was superior to others in understanding, he was not therefore lord of the person or property of others. On this subject they are gaining daily in the opinions of nations, and hopeful advances are making toward their re-establishment on an equal footing with the other colors of the human family. I pray you therefore to accept my thanks for the many instances you have enabled me to observe of respectable intelligence in that race of men, which cannot fail to have effect in hastening the day of their relief; and to be assured of the sentiments of high and just esteem and consideration which I tender to yourself with all sincerity.[98]

In August 1814 Edward Coles and Jefferson corresponded about Coles' ideas on emancipation:

Your solitary but welcome voice is the first which has brought this to my ear, and I have considered the general silence which prevails on this subject as indicating an apathy unfavorable to every hope[99]

The downturn in land prices after 1819 pushed Jefferson further into debt. Jefferson finally emancipated his five most trusted slaves (two his mixed-race sons) and petitioned the legislature to allow them to stay in Virginia. After his death, his family sold the remainder of the slaves to settle his high debts.[100]

Controversy about Sally Hemings and her children

Presidential Dollar of Thomas Jefferson

Speculation began in the early 19th century that Jefferson had a long-term relationship and children with his quadroon slave Sally Hemings, half-sister to his late wife. He had six children with her, of whom four survived to adulthood. Jefferson was only 39 when his wife died, and he had promised her to never marry again. In his society, it was common for widowers of means to have relationships with enslaved women as companions.[101] For instance, his father-in-law John Wayles had a long-term relationship with Elizabeth (Betty) Hemings when he was a widower, and had six children with her, the youngest of whom was Sally.[102] Many elite white men denied or hid such relationships, but their mixed-race children attested to the facts, as notable Southern planters' wives Mary Chesnut and Fanny Kemble reported in their published journals, Mary Chesnut's Diary and Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation, respectively.

The allegation that Jefferson fathered children with Hemings had been a topic of local gossip for years before controversial journalist James T. Callender, wrote in 1802 in a Richmond newspaper,[specify] "...[Jefferson] keeps and for many years has kept, as his concubine, one of his slaves. Her name is Sally." Newspapers carried other accounts, and the topic was the subject of political cartoons. Jefferson never responded publicly about this issue but was said to have denied it in his private correspondence.[103] Regarding marriage between blacks and whites, Jefferson wrote in 1814 that "[t]he amalgamation of whites with blacks produces a degradation to which no lover of his country, no lover of excellence in the human character, can innocently consent." Some historians contended Jefferson would not act in contrast to his writings.[104]

Hemings's children were born after she returned with Jefferson from France. The timeline of Jefferson's activities by historian Dumas Malone, developed for other purposes, demonstrates that Jefferson was in residence at Monticello when each of the children was conceived, although for years he was away for extended periods of time when in political office. The Hemings children were afforded some special opportunities. They were seven-eighths white by ancestry. Jefferson's grandson Thomas Jefferson Randolph said that all the children resembled Jefferson and that one of the boys "looked almost exactly like him."[105] Sally Hemings' children were:

  • Harriet Hemings (I) (October 5, 1795 - December 7, 1797)
  • Beverley Hemings (possibly named William Beverley Hemings) (April 1, 1798 - after 1873)
  • unnamed daughter (possibly named Thenia after Hemings's sister Thenia) (born in 1799 and died in infancy)
  • Harriet Hemings (II) (May 22, 1801 - after 1863)
  • Madison Hemings (possibly named James Madison Hemings) (January 19, 1805 - 1877)
  • Eston Hemings (possibly named Thomas Eston Hemings) (May 21, 1808 - 1856)

"All of Sally Hemings' children but one were given the names of people in the Jefferson-Randolph family tree who can be connected to Thomas Jefferson." The only one not named for a Randolph was named for James Madison, one of Jefferson's closest friends.[106] Madison and Eston were trained as carpenters, apprenticed to their highly skilled uncle John Hemings. All three brothers learned to play the violin and fiddle. Beverley was good enough to be asked to play at dances at Monticello. As an adult, Eston was skilled enough to earn a living as a musician.[107] Jefferson was fond of the violin. Harriet was taught to weave, but not started at her work until 14, an age later than most slave children.

Jefferson freed the four surviving Hemings children, both indirectly, by allowing the first two to run away, and directly, through his will. In 1822 Beverly and Harriet each "ran away" as adults from Monticello. Jefferson never sent anyone after them or tried to find them; his overseer provided money for Harriet's trip. Harriet Hemings was the only female slave Jefferson ever freed.[108] Together with Sally Hemings being "given her time" by Jefferson's daughter, the Hemings were the only nuclear slave family to leave Monticello as free persons.[109]

Jefferson freed Madison and Eston Hemings in his will, also petitioning the legislature to allow them to stay in the state. After his death, Jefferson's daughter gave Hemings "her time". Hemings left Monticello and lived freely with her sons Madison and Eston for several years in Charlottesville until her death.[110] On the 1830 census, the census taker classified the three Hemings as white.[111]

Beverley and Harriet were said by their brother Madison to have married white spouses of good families and to have passed into white society. He recounted this, as well as other details, in his memoir published in 1873, through an interview by S.F. Wetmore in the Pike County Republican. Madison Hemings stated that he and his siblings were children of Thomas Jefferson, and that Jefferson had made an agreement with their mother Sally Hemings to free them when they came of age. While detractors of the Hemings memoir have pointed to inaccuracies, they "have acknowledged that the vast majority of Hemings's remarks can be verified by outside sources."[112]

Eston and Madison Hemings both married women of mixed race. After their mother's death, they moved with their families from Virginia to Chillicothe, Ohio. It had a large community of free blacks and strong abolitionist sentiment among many whites as well. Years before the Wetmore article was published, there was talk locally about the brothers' relationship to Thomas Jefferson, as noted in a 1902 article.[113]

After some years, Eston moved with his family to Wisconsin in 1852, where he changed their last name to Jefferson. At the same time he and his family passed into white society. His oldest son John Wayles Jefferson served in the American Civil War as a white officer, being promoted to colonel.

By contrast, Madison Hemings and most of his descendants identified as African Americans. One of Madison's sons served in the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War and died at Andersonville prison camp.[110] In the 20th century, one of Madison's grandsons, Frederick Madison Roberts, became the first African American elected to the California legislature and the first black elected to public office in one of the West Coast states.

A 1998 DNA study concluded that there was a DNA link between Sally's son Eston Hemings and the male Jefferson line. The Carr nephews, proposed by Jefferson descendants as the father(s) of Hemings' children, were conclusively proved not to be. At the same time, the study showed there was no link between the Jefferson male line and Thomas Woodson descendants. However, the study could not conclusively prove that Thomas Jefferson himself was the ancestor, as Jefferson has no direct male heirs (from his legitimate line) to test for a comparison.[114] (He belonged to the Haplogroup 'T' DNA group.)[citation needed]

In 2000 and 2001, following the publication of the DNA evidence, three studies were released. In 2000, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which runs Monticello, appointed a multi-disciplinary, nine-member in-house research committee of Ph.D.s and an M.D. to study the matter of the paternity of Hemings's children. The committee concluded "it is very unlikely that any Jefferson other than Thomas Jefferson was the father of [Hemings's six] children."[115]

In 2001, the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society (TJHS)[116] commissioned a study by an independent 13-member Scholars Commission, made up of mostly conservative members. The commission concluded that the Jefferson paternity thesis was not persuasive. On April 12, 2001, they issued a report. The conclusion of most of the Scholars Commission was that "the Jefferson-Hemings allegation is by no means proven." The majority suggested the most likely alternative was that Randolph Jefferson, Thomas's younger brother, was the father of Eston, Heming's youngest son. (Note: It was not until the late 20th century that Randolph Jefferson was ever proposed as a candidate for paternity of Hemings' children.)

Later in 2001, the National Genealogical Society Quarterly published articles reviewing the evidence from a genealogical perspective. The authors concluded that the link between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings was credible and consistent with the weight of evidence. They criticized the TJHS report for weaknesses in approach, bias toward data, and ignoring the weight of evidence.[117]

Monuments and memorials

Jefferson on Mount Rushmore
Jefferson is portrayed on the United States two-dollar bill.


See also


  1. ^ a b The birth and death of Thomas Jefferson are given using the Gregorian calendar. However, he was born when Britain and her colonies still used the Julian calendar, so contemporary records record his birth (and on his tombstone) as April 2, 1743. The provisions of the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750, implemented in 1752, altered the official British dating method to the Gregorian calendar with the start of the year on January 1 – see the article on Old Style and New Style dates for more details.
  2. ^ Jefferson, Thomas. "Jefferson's Wall of Separation Letter". U.S. Constitution Online. Retrieved on April 13, 2008. 
  3. ^ April 29, 1962 dinner honoring 49 Nobel Laureates (Simpson's Contemporary Quotations, 1988, from Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962, p. 347).
  4. ^ Henry Stephens Randall, The Life of Thomas Jefferson
  5. ^ Merrill D. Peterson, Thomas Jefferson: Writings, p. 1236
  6. ^ Thomas Jefferson on Wine by John Hailman, 2006
  7. ^ a b c Henry Stephens Randall, The Life of Thomas Jefferson. p 41
  8. ^ a b Henry Stephens Randall, The Life of Thomas Jefferson. p 47
  9. ^ Annette Gordon-Reed, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1997, p. 66
  10. ^ a b c Merrill D. Peterson, "Jefferson, Thomas"; American National Biography Online, February 2000.
  11. ^ Ellis, American Sphinx, 47–49.
  12. ^ Maier, American Scripture. Other standard works on Jefferson and the Declaration include Garry Wills, Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence (1978) and Carl L. Becker, The Declaration of Independence: A Study in the History of Political Ideas (1922).
  13. ^ a b Ellis, American Sphinx, 50.
  14. ^ Part I: History of the Death Penalty
  15. ^
  16. ^ Bennett, William J. (2006). "The Greatest Revolution". America: The Last Best Hope (Volume I): From the Age of Discovery to a World at War. Nelson Current. pp. 99. ISBN 1-59555-055-0. 
  17. ^ (Ferling, p. 26)
  18. ^ Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2008
  19. ^ The Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States of America
  20. ^ (Ferling, p. 59)
  21. ^ "Foreign Affairs," in Peterson, ed. Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Encyclopedia (1986) p 325
  22. ^ (Schachner, 1: 495)
  23. ^ Miller (1960), 143–4, 148–9.
  24. ^ Table 1.1 Acquisition of the Public Domain 1781-1867
  25. ^ a b c d e f g Miller, Robert (July 1, 2008) (in English). Native America, Discovered and Conquered: : Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, and Manifest Destiny. Bison Books. pp. 90. ISBN 978-0803215986. 
  26. ^ a b Drinnon, Richard (March 1997) (in English). Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian-Hating and Empire-Building. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0806129280. 
  27. ^ a b Jefferson, Thomas (1803). "President Thomas Jefferson to William Henry Harrison, Governor of the Indiana Territory," (in English). Retrieved on 2009-03-12. 
  28. ^ "Letter From Thomas Jefferson to Alexander von Humboldt December 6, 1813" (in English). Retrieved on 2009-03-12. 
  29. ^ Moore, MariJo (in English). Eating Fire, Tasting Blood: An Anthology of the American Indian Holocaust. Running Press. ISBN 978-1560258384. 
  30. ^ Jefferson on Politics & Government: Publicly Supported Education
  31. ^ Jefferson Still Survives. Retrieved on 2006-12-26.
  32. ^ US CPI inflation data obtained from Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis - Consumer Price Index (Estimate).
  33. ^ "Monticello Report: The Calendar and Old Style (O. S.)". Thomas Jefferson Foundation ( 2007. Retrieved on 2007-09-15. 
  34. ^ Monticello Report: Physical Descriptions of Thomas Jefferson. Accessed September 14, 2007.
  35. ^ a b 'Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826)' at the University of Virginia
  36. ^ Thomas Jefferson
  37. ^ "Thomas Jefferson: Silent Member". Retrieved on 2007-07-23. 
  38. ^ 'American Sphinx' by Joseph J. Ellis at
  39. ^ "Jefferson's Inventions"
  40. ^ Ellis, Joseph J. (1994). "American Sphinx: The Contradictions of Thomas Jefferson". Library of Congress. 
  41. ^ Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts (January 1, 2007). "But It's Thomas Jefferson's Koran!". Washington Post: p. C03. Retrieved on January 3, 2007. 
  42. ^ J. G. A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (1975), 533; see also Richard K. Matthews, The Radical Politics of Thomas Jefferson, (1986), p. 17, 139n.16.
  43. ^ Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor May 28, 1816, in Appleby and Ball (1999) p 209); also Bergh, ed. Writings 15:23
  44. ^ Letter to Isaac H. Tiffany, April 4, 1819 in Appleby and Ball (1999) p 224.
  45. ^ (Brown, pp. 51–52)
  46. ^ Notes on Virginia
  47. ^ Adler, Mortimer Jerome (2000). The Great Ideas. Open Court Publishing. p. 378. 
  48. ^ Letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787
  49. ^ Professor Julian Boyd's reconstruction of Jefferson's "original Rough draft" of the Declaration of Independence
  50. ^ Letter to James Madison, September 6, 1789
  51. ^ Letter to James Madison, September 6, 1789; Daniel Scott Smith, "Population and Political Ethics: Thomas Jefferson's Demography of Generations," The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., Vol. 56, No. 3 (Jul., 1999), pp. 591–612 in jstor
  52. ^
  53. ^ The James Madison Research Library and Information Center
  54. ^ 'Gun-Free Zones' -
  55. ^ Favorite Jefferson Quotes
  56. ^ Letter to William C. Jarvis, 1820
  57. ^ Melton, The Quotable Founding Fathers, 277.
  58. ^ Melton, The Quotable Founding Fathers, 277.
  59. ^ Letter to William Smith, November 13, 1787
  60. ^ Melton, The Quotable Founding Fathers, 277.
  61. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica's Guide to American Presidents
  62. ^ Seven Who Shaped Our Destiny, p. 133, Richard B. Morris, 1973, Harper & Row Publishers, Inc.
  63. ^ Charles Sanford, The Religious Life of Thomas Jefferson (Charlotte: UNC Press, 1987).
  64. ^ Avery Dulles, "The Deist Minimum" First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life Issue: 149. (January 2005) pp 25+
  65. ^ Merrill D. Peterson, ed., Thomas Jefferson: Writings (1984), p. 347
  66. ^ Reynolds (98 U.S. at 164, 1879); Everson (330 U.S. at 59, 1947); McCollum (333 U.S. at 232, 1948)
  67. ^ Letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT, January 1, 1802
  68. ^ Notes on the State of Virginia
  69. ^ Jefferson, Thomas (1900). John P. Foley. ed. The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia: a Comprehensive Collection of the Views of Thomas Jefferson. New York City: Funk and Wagnalls. pp. 140. 
  70. ^ Letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813
  71. ^ Letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814
  72. ^ Letter to Roger C. Weightman June 24, 1826
  73. ^ Notes on the State of Virginia, Q.XVIII, 1782.
  74. ^ Jefferson's Second Inaugural Address
  75. ^ a b Edward J. Larson, A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America's First Presidential Campaign (Simon and Schuster, 2007), p. 171.
  76. ^ Religion and the Federal Government: PART 2 (Religion and the Founding of the American Republic, Library of Congress Exhibition)
  77. ^ Thomas Jefferson & Thomas Jefferson Randolph (1829). Memoirs, correspondence, and private papers of Thomas Jefferson : late president of the United States. London: H. Colburn and R. Bentley. OCLC 19942206.,+charlatanism+and+imposture&source=web&ots=Z--qKb8ZBW&sig=WVHWR6s2hW7VKcYnxqEa9n6iQyE&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=6&ct=result. Retrieved on 2008-07-13. 
  78. ^ a b Jefferson, Thomas (1854). H. A. WASHINGTON. ed. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Being His Autobiography, Correspondence. WASHINGTON, D. C: TAYLOR & MATJRY. pp. 156. Retrieved on 2008-07-13. 
  79. ^ Jefferson, Thomas (1854). H. A. WASHINGTON. ed. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Being His Autobiography, Correspondence. WASHINGTON, D. C: TAYLOR & MATJRY. pp. 395. Retrieved on 2008-07-13. 
  80. ^ a b Letter to William Short, April 13, 1820
  81. ^ Letter to Joseph Priestley, April 9, 1803, Thomas Jefferson. Lipscomb and Bergh, eds., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. x, p.374
  82. ^ (Peterson 1975, p. 50–51)
  83. ^ Letter to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse June 26, 1822
  84. ^ Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, 1825 January 8, Accession # 10794, Special Collections Dept., University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.
  85. ^ The Religious Affiliation of Third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, November 30, 2005, Accessed July 3, 2004
  86. ^ Herbert E. Sloan, Principle and Interest: Thomas Jefferson and the Problem of Debt (2001) pp. 14–26, 220–1.
  87. ^ (Hitchens 2005, p. 48)
  88. ^ Miller, John Chester (1977). The Wolf by the Ears: Thomas Jefferson and Slavery. New York: Free Press, p. 241. The letter, dated April 22, 1820, was written to John Holmes, former senator from Maine.
  89. ^ Macnaul, W.C. (1865). The Jefferson-Lemen Compact.
  90. ^ Willard Sterne Randall, Thomas Jefferson: A Life. p 593.
  91. ^ The Works of Thomas Jefferson in Twelve Volumes at the Library of Congress.
  92. ^ Ordinance of 1787 Lalor Cyclopædia of Political Science
  93. ^ Notes on the State of Virginia, Ch 18.
  94. ^ Notes on the State of Virginia Query 14
  95. ^ 'Jefferson, Thomas, 1743–1826 . Notes on the State of Virginia ' at University of Virginia Library
  96. ^ Flawed Founders by Stephen E. Ambrose.
  97. ^ (Hitchens 2005, pp. 34–35)
  98. ^ Letter of February 25, 1809 from Thomas Jefferson to French author Monsieur Gregoire, from The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (H. A. Worthington, ed.), Volume V, p. 429. Citation and quote from Morris Kominsky, The Hoaxers, pp. 110–111.
  99. ^ Twilight at Monticello, Crawford, 2008, Ch 17, p.101
  100. ^ (Peterson 1975, pp. 991–992, 1007)
  101. ^ Joshua D. Rothman, Notorious in the Neighborhood: Sex and Families across the Color Line in Virginia, 1787-1861, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003, pp. 18-19
  102. ^ Annette Gordon-Reed, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1997, pp. 128-129
  103. ^ Mayer, David N. (April 9, 2001). "A. Denials by Jefferson Himself and Virtually All His Contemporaries". The Thomas Jefferson - Sally Hemings Myth and the Politicization of American History. Ashbrook Center. 
  104. ^ Miller, John Chester (1977). The Wolf by the Ears: Thomas Jefferson and Slavery. New York: Free Press. p. 207. .
  105. ^ Annette Gordon-Reed, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1997, pp. 216-217
  106. ^ Annette Gordon-Reed, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1997, p. 220
  107. ^ Annette Gordon-Reed, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1997, p. 220
  108. ^ Annette Gordon-Reed, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1997, p. 219
  109. ^ Annette Gordon-Reed, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1997, p. 66
  110. ^ a b Foner, Eric (October 3, 2008). "The Master and the Mistress (A review of Annette Gordon-Reed's The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family". New York Times. Retrieved on February 10, 2009. 
  111. ^ Annette Gordon-Reed, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1997, p.209
  112. ^ Annette Gordon-Reed, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1997, p. 213
  113. ^ "A Sprig of Jefferson was Eston Hemings". Jefferson's Blood. Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved on 2008-04-27. 
  114. ^ Foster, EA, et al. (1998). "Jefferson fathered slave's last child" (PDF). Nature 396 (6706): 27–28. doi:10.1038/23835. PMID 9817200. 
  115. ^ "Appendix J: The Possible Paternity of Other Jeffersons, A Summary of Research". Report of the Research Committee on Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. Thomas Jefferson Foundation. January 2000. 
  116. ^ The Scholars Commission on the Jefferson-Hemings Issue
  117. ^ Leary, Helen F. M. (September 2001). "Sally Hemings's Children: A Genealogical Analysis of the Evidence". National Genealogical Society Quarterly 89 (3): 165–207. 


Primary sources

  • Thomas Jefferson: Writings: Autobiography / Notes on the State of Virginia / Public and Private Papers / Addresses / Letters (1984, ISBN 978-0-94045016-5) Library of America edition. There are numerous one-volume collections; this is perhaps the best place to start.
  • Thomas Jefferson, Political Writings ed by Joyce Appleby and Terence Ball. Cambridge University Press. 1999 online
  • Lipscomb, Andrew A. and Albert Ellery Bergh, eds. The Writings Of Thomas Jefferson 19 vol. (1907) not as complete nor as accurate as Boyd edition, but covers TJ from birth to death. It is out of copyright, and so is online free.
  • Edwin Morris Betts (editor), Thomas Jefferson's Farm Book, (Thomas Jefferson Memorial: December 1, 1953) ISBN 1-882886-10-0. Letters, notes, and drawings—a journal of plantation management recording his contributions to scientific agriculture, including an experimental farm implementing innovations such as horizontal plowing and crop-rotation, and Jefferson's own moldboard plow. It is a window to slave life, with data on food rations, daily work tasks, and slaves' clothing. The book portrays the industries pursued by enslaved and free workmen, including in the blacksmith's shop and spinning and weaving house.
  • Boyd, Julian P. et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. The definitive multivolume edition; available at major academic libraries. 31 volumes covers TJ to 1800, with 1801 due out in 2006.
  • The Jefferson Cyclopedia (1900) large collection of TJ quotations arranged by 9000 topics; searchable; copyright has expired and it is online free.
  • The Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1606–1827, 27,000 original manuscript documents at the Library of Congress online collection
  • Jefferson, Thomas. Notes on the State of Virginia (1787), London: Stockdale. This was Jefferson's only book
  • Cappon, Lester J., ed. The Adams-Jefferson Letters (1959)
  • Howell, Wilbur Samuel, ed. Jefferson's Parliamentary Writings (1988). Jefferson's Manual of Parliamentary Practice, written when he was vice-President, with other relevant papers
  • Melton, Buckner F.: The Quotable Founding Fathers, Potomac Books, Washington D.C. (2004).
  • Smith, James Morton, ed. The Republic of Letters: The Correspondence between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, 1776–1826, 3 vols. (1995)


  • Hitchens, C. E.Thomas Jefferson: Author of America (2005), short biography.
  • Malone, Dumas. Jefferson and His Time, 6 vols. (1948–82). Multi-volume biography of TJ by leading expert; A short version is online
  • Onuf, Peter. "The Scholars' Jefferson," William and Mary Quarterly 3d Series, L:4 (October 1993), 671–699. Historiographical review or scholarship about TJ; online through JSTOR at most academic libraries.
  • Pasley, Jeffrey L. "Politics and the Misadventures of Thomas Jefferson's Modern Reputation: a Review Essay." Journal of Southern History 2006 72(4): 871–908. Issn: 0022-4642 Fulltext in Ebsco
  • Peterson, Merrill D. (1975). Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation.  A standard scholarly biography
  • Peterson, Merrill D. (ed.) Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography (1986), 24 essays by leading scholars on aspects of Jefferson's career.
  • Randall, Henry Stephens (1858). The Life of Thomas Jefferson. Volume 1. 
  • Schachner, Nathan (1951). Thomas Jefferson: A Biography.  2 volumes.
  • [[Sandor Salgo |Salgo, Sandor]] (1997). Thomas Jefferson: Musician and Violinist.  Abook detailing Thomas Jefferson's love of music.

Academic studies

  • Ackerman, Bruce. The Failure of the Founding Fathers: Jefferson, Marshall, and the Rise of Presidential Democracy. (2005)
  • Adams, Henry. History of the United States of America during the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1889; Library of America edition 1986) famous 4-volume history
    • Wills, Garry, Henry Adams and the Making of America (2005), detailed analysis of Adams' History
  • Banning, Lance. The Jeffersonian Persuasion: Evolution of a Party Ideology (1978)
  • Brown, Stuart Gerry (1954). The First Republicans: Political Philosophy and Public Policy in the Party of Jefferson and Madison. 
  • Channing; Edward. The Jeffersonian System: 1801–1811 (1906), "American Nation" survey of political history
  • Dunn, Susan. Jefferson's Second Revolution: The Election Crisis of 1800 and the Triumph of Republicanism (2004)
  • Elkins; Stanley and Eric McKitrick. The Age of Federalism (1995) in-depth coverage of politics of 1790s
  • Fatovic, Clement. "Constitutionalism and Presidential Prerogative: Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian Perspectives." : American Journal of Political Science, 2004 48(3): 429–444. Issn: 0092-5853 Fulltext: in Swetswise, Ingenta, Jstor, and Ebsco
  • Ferling, John (2004). Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800. 
  • Finkelman, Paul. Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson (2001), esp ch 6–7
  • Hatzenbuehler, Ronald L. "I Tremble for My Country": Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia Gentry, (University Press of Florida; 206 pages; 2007). Argues that the TJ's critique of his fellow gentry in Virginia masked his own reluctance to change
  • Hitchens, Christopher (2005). Author of America: Thomas Jefferson. HarperCollins. 
  • Horn, James P. P. Jan Ellen Lewis, and Peter S. Onuf, eds. The Revolution of 1800: Democracy, Race, and the New Republic (2002) 17 essays by scholars
  • Jayne, Allen. Jefferson's Declaration of Independence: Origins, Philosophy and Theology (2000); traces TJ's sources and emphasizes his incorporation of Deist theology into the Declaration.
  • Roger G. Kennedy. Mr. Jefferson's Lost Cause: Land, Farmers, Slavery, and the Louisiana Purchase (2003).
  • Knudson, Jerry W. Jefferson and the Press: Crucible of Liberty. (2006)
  • Lewis, Jan Ellen, and Onuf, Peter S., eds. Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson: History, Memory, Civic Culture. (1999)
  • McDonald, Forrest. The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson (1987) intellectual history approach to Jefferson's Presidency
  • Matthews, Richard K. "The Radical Political Philosophy of Thomas Jefferson: An Essay in Retrieval," Midwest Studies in Philosophy, XXVIII (2004)
  • Mayer, David N. The Constitutional Thought of Thomas Jefferson (2000)
  • Onuf, Peter S. Jefferson's Empire: The Languages of American Nationhood. (2000). Online review
  • Onuf, Peter S., ed. Jeffersonian Legacies. (1993)
  • Onuf, Peter. "Thomas Jefferson, Federalist" (1993) online journal essay
  • Perry, Barbara A. "Jefferson's Legacy to the Supreme Court: Freedom of Religion." Journal of Supreme Court History 2006 31(2): 181–198. Issn: 1059-4329 Fulltext in Swetswise, Ingenta and Ebsco
  • Peterson, Merrill D. The Jefferson Image in the American Mind (1960), how Americans interpreted and remembered Jefferson
  • Rahe, Paul A. "Thomas Jefferson's Machiavellian Political Science". Review of Politics 1995 57(3): 449–481. ISSN 0034–6705 Fulltext online at Jstor and Ebsco.
  • Sears, Louis Martin. Jefferson and the Embargo (1927), state by state impact
  • Sloan, Herbert J. Principle and Interest: Thomas Jefferson and the Problem of Debt (1995). Shows the burden of debt in Jefferson's personal finances and political thought.
  • Smelser, Marshall. The Democratic Republic: 1801–1815 (1968). "New American Nation" survey of political and diplomatic history
  • Staloff, Darren. Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson: The Politics of Enlightenment and the American Founding. (2005)
  • Taylor, Jeff. Where Did the Party Go?: William Jennings Bryan, Hubert Humphrey, and the Jeffersonian Legacy (2006), on Jefferson's role in Democratic history and ideology.
  • Tucker, Robert W. and David C. Hendrickson. Empire of Liberty: The Statecraft of Thomas Jefferson (1992), foreign policy
  • Urofsky, Melvin I. "Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall: What Kind of Constitution Shall We Have?" Journal of Supreme Court History 2006 31(2): 109–125. Issn: 1059-4329 Fulltext: in Swetswise, Ingenta and Ebsco
  • Valsania, Maurizio. "'Our Original Barbarism': Man Vs. Nature in Thomas Jefferson's Moral Experience." Journal of the History of Ideas 2004 65(4): 627–645. Issn: 0022-5037 Fulltext: in Project Muse and Swetswise
  • Wagoner, Jennings L., Jr. Jefferson and Education. (2004).
  • Wiltse, Charles Maurice. The Jeffersonian Tradition in American Democracy (1935), analysis of Jefferson's political philosophy
  • PBS interviews with 24 historians

Jefferson and religion

  • Gaustad, Edwin S. Sworn on the Altar of God: A Religious Biography of Thomas Jefferson (2001) Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, ISBN 0-8028-0156-0
  • Sanford, Charles B. The Religious Life of Thomas Jefferson (1987) University of Virginia Press, ISBN 0-8139-1131-1
  • Sheridan, Eugene R. Jefferson and Religion, preface by Martin Marty, (2001) University of North Carolina Press, ISBN 1-882886-08-9
  • Edited by Jackson, Henry E., President, College for Social Engineers, Washington, D. C. "The Thomas Jefferson Bible" (1923) Copyright Boni and Liveright, Inc. Printed in the United States of America. Arranged by Thomas Jefferson. Translated by R. F. Weymouth. Located in the National Museum, Washington, D. C.

External links and sources

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Political offices
Preceded by
Patrick Henry
Governor of Virginia
1779 – 1781
Succeeded by
William Fleming
Preceded by
John Jay
as United States Secretary for Foreign Affairs
United States Secretary of State
March 22, 1790 – December 31, 1793
Succeeded by
Edmund Randolph
Preceded by
John Adams
Vice President of the United States
March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801
Succeeded by
Aaron Burr
President of the United States
March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1809
Succeeded by
James Madison
Party political offices
New political party Democratic-Republican Party presidential candidate
1796¹, 1800, 1804
Succeeded by
James Madison
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Benjamin Franklin
United States Minister Plenipotentiary to France
1785 – 1789
Succeeded by
William Short
Notes and references
1. Prior to the passage of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804, each Presidential elector would cast two ballots; the highest vote-getter would become President and the runner-up would become Vice President. Thus, in 1796, the Democratic-Republican Party fielded Jefferson as a Presidential candidate, but he came in second and therefore became Vice President.
NAME Jefferson, Thomas
SHORT DESCRIPTION American President
DATE OF BIRTH April 13, 1743
PLACE OF BIRTH Albemarle County, Virginia
DATE OF DEATH July 4, 1826
PLACE OF DEATH Charlottesville, Virginia

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