Thomas Jefferson - Biography

Thomas Jefferson was born April 13, 1743 on a plantation in Shadwell, Virginia. He spent his boyhood exploring the wilderness and reading books. He attended boarding school and then enrolled at William and Mary College, where he studied math, science, literature, philosophy, and law. In April 1767, he became a lawyer and was admitted to the Virginia bar.

Jefferson quickly became known as a champion of freedom and independence from Great Britain. In 1775 and 1776, he was appointed to the Continental Congresses, the later of which selected him to write the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson also served in the Virginia House of Delegates, and he was Virginia's governor during the Revolutionary War. After the war, he went to Paris as America's minister to France. While he was away, members of the Constitutional Convention contacted him and asked for his support of the new constitution. He conditioned his support on the addition of the Bill of Rights.

Upon Jefferson's return from France, he served as President Washington's secretary of state until 1793. He lost the 1796 presidential election to John Adams, but became Adams's vice-president. He ran again in 1800 and served two terms as America's third president. While in office, he commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to lead an expedition across the Louisiana Purchase.

At the end of his presidency in 1808, Jefferson returned to Monticello, his Virginia plantation. He worked as a scientist, inventor, linguist, and architect, and established the University of Virginia. Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, exactly fifty years after the Declaration of Independence was signed and on the same day that John Adams died.

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