Thomas Jefferson

Author of the Declaration of Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and Father of the University of Virginia

Thomas Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and leading visionary of the Founding Fathers.

Born on April 13, 1743 in Albemarle County, Virginia, he was a major plantation owner, lawyer, scientist, writer, and inventor.  Jefferson became a leading voice for American independence when he wrote A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774)

As a delegate at the Second Continental Congress, he was assigned to draft the Declaration of IndependenceJohn Adams explained to Jefferson why: “Reason first – You are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second – I am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third – You can write ten times better than I can.”

Jefferson became war-time Governor of Virginia, and succeeded Benjamin Franklin as minister to France in 1785.  While in Europe, James Madison worked to ensure that Jefferson’s proposed Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom became law – creating a separation of church and state in Virginia.  The Statute was the basis for the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. 

Jefferson was later tapped by George Washington to become the nation’s first Secretary of State.

Narrowly losing election in 1796 to Adams, he became the nation’s third Vice-President.  When he defeated Adams in a rematch, he became President – in what he dubbed the “Revolution of 1800.”  

Jefferson retired to Monticello after two tumultuous terms as President, and founded the University of Virginia.

In their later years, Adams and Jefferson reconciled and enjoyed a famous, years’ long correspondence.  Adams and Jefferson both passed away on July 4, 1826 – 50 years to the day of the Declaration of Independence.

For more about our Founding Fathers and their importance to our liberties today, buy a copy of Americas Survival Guide.

Picture: Rembrandt Peale



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