3. Thomas Jefferson

The Periodic Table of the Presidents - Tj  Thomas Jefferson Official Portrait - The Periodic Table of the Presidents


“The Sage of Monticello”


Presidential Basics

  • Full name: Thomas Jefferson
  • Years in office: 1801–1809
  • Political party: Democratic-Republican
  • Vice president: Aaron Burr (first term), George Clinton (second term)
  • Age at inauguration: 57
  • Nicknames: “Sage of Monticello,” “Red Fox,” “Philosopher of Democracy”

Random Trivia

  • The Jefferson Bible: Jefferson compiled his own version of the Bible from four books in the New Testament. (Monticello has more on the Jefferson Bible.)
  • Jefferson’s Gravestone: Jefferson planned his own gravestone, and U.S. president isn’t mentioned.
  • July 4, 1826: Jefferson (and John Adams) died on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Birth & Death

  • Birthday: April 13, 1743
  • Birthplace: Goochland (now Albemarle) County, Virginia
  • Death date: July 4, 1826
  • Place of death: Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia
  • Place of burial: Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia; Read about his tombstone here
  • Last words: Unknown
    • According to Monticello’s website, Jefferson’s last recorded words were “No, doctor, nothing more.”  The public has come to accept Jefferson’s last words as “Is it the Fourth?” or “This is the Fourth of July.”  These phrases, though more memorable, were most likely not his last words.  In any case, Jefferson’s death on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence remains historically astounding.

Family

  • Father: Peter Jefferson (1708–1757); planter/surveyor
  • Mother: Jane Randolph Jefferson (1720–1776)
  • Wife: Martha Wayles Skelton (1748–1782)
  • Marriage: January 1, 1772 in Virginia
  • Kids: Three (plus three who died in infancy)
    • Martha (1772–1836)
    • Maria (1778–1804)
    • Lucy Elizabeth (1782–1785)
    • Two other daughters and a son died in infancy
  • Home: Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia

Other Facts

  • Height: 6’2”
  • Eye color: Hazel
  • Ancestry: Welsh
  • Religion: Deism (Some historians say he had no religion.)
  • Born in a log cabin: No
  • Owned enslaved people: Yes
  • Freemason: No

Education

  • Early education: Private tutoring; attended country school
  • College degree: Yes
  • College: William and Mary (graduated in 1762)

Career

  • Military service: Yes
  • Lawyer: Yes
  • Planter
  • Lawyer (1767–)
  • Writer
  • Philosopher
  • Scientist
  • Architect
  • Member of Virginia House of Burgesses (1769–1774)
  • County lieutenant
  • County surveyor
  • Member of Continental Congress (1775–1776)
  • Member of Virginia House of Delegates (1776–1779)
  • Governor of Virginia (1779–1781)
  • Member of Continental Congress (1783–1785)
  • Minister to France (1785–1789)
  • Secretary of State: Washington administration (1790–1793)
  • Vice President: John Adams administration (1797–1801)
  • President (1801–1809)
  • Founder of the University of Virginia (1819)

Writings

  • The Declaration of Independence
  • Autobiography
  • Notes on the State of Virginia
  • Public and Private Papers
  • Addresses
  • Letters

 


Elections

In the rematch of the 1796 election, Thomas Jefferson took on the incumbent John Adams.  Adams had lost some support due mainly to his Alien and Sedition acts.

Jefferson would tie his running-mate, Aaron Burr, for the most electoral votes.  Since there was no majority winner, the vote went the U.S. House of Representatives.  In an interesting move, Hamilton convinced a few Federalists to change their votes, leading to a victory for Thomas Jefferson.

He says in his inaugural address, “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.”  An inauguration not attended by his one time friend, John Adams. (For more, check our our Inauguration Infographic)

 

Due largely to Jefferson’s peaceful and prosperous first term, he was easily elected to a second term.

 


Jefferson’s Home

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello - The Periodic Table of the Presidents
Monticello, photo by PJ Creek

Monticello’s Website


Spotlight Artifact

Thomas Jefferson’s Gravestone

Thomas Jefferson Gravestone

Thomas Jefferson was buried at his home estate of Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Look at the inscription and you’ll notice that Jefferson’s gravestone includes three of his most important accomplishments.  But, where is “Third President of the United States of America?”  Before his death, Thomas Jefferson left specific instructions for a monument to be constructed on his grave site, and nowhere did he mention his time spent in the White House.

Just months after Jefferson wrote the instructions for his gravestone, he passed away on July 4, 1826 – the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.  Jefferson was not alone.  On the same day, in Quincy, Massachusetts, John Adams passed away at the age of ninety.  To read more about this Thomas Jefferson artifact see “What is written on Thomas Jefferson’s gravestone?”

 

Thomas Jefferson Gravestone

Jefferson - Gravestone - Birth & Death
Jefferson’s gravestone, photos by PJ Creek

 


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