Wikijunior:American Founding Fathers/Thomas Jefferson
Who is this?
What did he do that made him important?
Thomas Jefferson was the third President of the United States. He was President from 1801–1809. He was Secretary of State under George Washington, and Vice President for John Adams when he was elected President.
He attended the Second Continental Congress, and was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence (which the Second Continental Congress decided to write).
What did he do when he was young?
Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 in Virginia, the third of eight children. 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. 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.
What did he do afterward?
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.
Although he was born into one of the wealthiest families in the United States, Thomas Jefferson was deeply in debt when he died. His possessions were sold at auction.
How do we remember him today?
Thomas Jefferson is probably best known for being the author of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson is also well known for being a statesman, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, author, inventor and founder of the University of Virginia. His image appears on the US Nickel, with his home Monticello appearing on the back. His image also adorns the Two Dollar Bill, and there is a memorial building honoring him in Washington DC.