Thomas Jefferson

3rd President of the United States

Democratic-Republican Party

Vice Presidents
First Term - Aaron Burr
Second term - George Clinton

Born in Shadwell, Albemare County, Virginia in 1743, Thomas Jefferson would at the age of 19, graduate from William and Mary College, and take up the study of law under the direction of Judge George Wythe in 1762. In 1769, at the age of twenty-six, Jefferson was elected to Virginia's legislature, where he developed a reputation for patriotism and liberty, and for possessing a unique writing skill to express those deeply held beliefs. These skills would in 1776, bring him to the Second Continental Congress, and to the committee charged with drafting the Declaration of Independence. Also serving on that committee were Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman. His elder and distinguished committee colleagues chose Jefferson to complete the actual writing. On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress approved the final draft of that document, which not only announced America's independence, but clearly defined the rights of all men for all time.

During the Revolutionary War, Jefferson returned to his native Virginia serving again in the legislature and then as governor. During this period, he successfully struggled to bring about the passage of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom. Following the war, Jefferson would serve in the new nation's Congress established under the Articles of Confederation. From this experience, Jefferson concluded that the new national government was too weak and needed major modification. Jefferson would not be able to take part in the drafting of the new government, due to his diplomatic service for the nation in Europe. However, upon hearing of the newly drafted Constitution, Jefferson gave the document and the governmental structure it created his full endorsement.

Once the Constitution was ratified, George Washington, who was elected as the nation's first President, chose Jefferson to serve as the first Secretary of State. As Secretary of State, Jefferson attempted to steer the new nation clear of Europe's power struggles. However, with the French Revolution, Jefferson argued for American support for the new French Republic, which was soon at war with Great Britain. American support was not to be, as Washington and others initiated a policy of neutrality. The disagreement would ultimately lead to Jefferson's resignation from the Washington Administration on December 31,1793.

With the original method of presidential elections outlined in the Constitution, the candidate with the second highest electoral votes for President, would be selected as Vice President. As a leader of the opposition to what was becoming known as the Federalist Party, Jefferson soon became identified with the new Democratic-Republican Party. In the election of 1796, Jefferson would receive 68 electoral votes to John Adams' 71, and as such was elected the nation's second Vice President. The role of Vice President was little more appealing to Jefferson than it had been to Adams himself when he served in that position. Political divisions between Jefferson and Adams' cabinet set the stage for a long-lasting isolation between Jefferson and Adams, and led to the hotly contested election of 1800, in which John Adams became the first President defeated for re-election, and Thomas Jefferson became the only Vice President to beat the sitting President in a presidential election. With some highly unusual maneuvering by Aaron Burr, who was publicly a candidate for Vice President, the Presidential Election of 1800 was the first to be forced to the House of Representatives for a decision, where after several ballots, Jefferson was finally declared the winner. The whole experience lead to the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, which forever divided the presidential and vice presidential elections.

As President, Jefferson moved to expand and strengthen the individual liberties of the people, and oversaw the largest (and peaceful) expansion of the nation in its history. While only one new state was admitted to the Union during the Jefferson Administration, with the acquisition of the Louisiana Territory, the nation doubled in size. Thirteen states would ultimately enter the union from this vast expanse of land the reached from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. Jefferson had sent James Monroe to Paris to assist Robert Livingston, America's Minister to France, in an effort to buy New Orleans and as much land to the east for a maximum of 10 million dollars. Instead, America's representatives ultimately negotiated the purchase of the region to the west. For the sum of 15 million dollars, 828,000 square miles of land were purchased for about three cents per acre. Despite Jefferson's belief that the purchase probably required the passage of a constitutional amendment, time was of the essence, and Jefferson moved the Congress to ratify the treaty with France, finalizing the deal in 1803. Jefferson sent explorers Capt. Meriwether Lewis, and Lewis’ friend, Capt. William Clark on a major expedition into this vast new territory. Over the course of more than two years the expedition, known as the Corps of Discovery, blazed the new trail westward to the Pacific Ocean. Learn more about this journey by going to the pages on Lewis and Clark from PBS Online.

Jefferson was widely popular through the end of his second term. Believing that a third term was unhealthy for the nation, Jefferson did not run for re-election, and instead backed his Secretary of State, James Madison for President. Madison, with Jefferson's support, became the nation's Fourth President in 1809.

Following his Presidency, Jefferson remained active as a farmer, writer, inventor and educator. In 1816, he founded the University of Virginia and served as that institution's first rector, playing an active role in all areas of the university's development. During this time Jefferson and John Adams renewed their deep friendship, and in an astounding twist of fate both men died on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson was 83 years old at the time of his death.

Date of BirthOccupationsWifeChildren
13 Apr 1743Lawyer, Planter
Scientist, Architect
Surveyor, Educator
and More
Martha Wayles SkeltonOne boy
Five girls
Prior Military
Offices Held
Electoral and Popular Votes
In 1800
Age When First
NoneMember Virginia House of Burgesses

County Lieutenant

County Surveyor

Deputy Delegate Second Continental Congresses

Member Virginia House of Delegates

Governor of Virginia

Delegate to Congress

Commissioner to France

Minister to France

Secretary of State

Vice President
Electoral Votes

Popular Vote Unknown
Number of States
When First
When First
Electoral and Popular Votes
In 1804
States Admitted
to Union
While President
Electoral Votes

Popular Vote Unknown
Offices Held
Other Main
Activities After
President at
Time of Death
Date of Death


Founder and First President of the University of Virginia
John Quincy Adams

4 July 1826


Q1: Thomas Jefferson was one of only two presidents to have also signed the Declaration of Independence. Was the other George Washington, John Adams or James Madison?
Q2: Jefferson's 1801 inauguration was the first to be held ....where?
And the answer is...
Q3: Which of these foods was Thomas Jefferson the first person in North America known to grow as a crop? The green bean, lettuce, or the tomato.
Q4: Of Thomas Jefferson's many accomplishments, one of the following listed below is not included in the epitaph on his monument. Is it....
President of the United States,
Author of the Declaration of Independence,
Author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, or
Father of the University of Virginia?
Q5: Following the War of 1812, what happened to Thomas Jefferson's private library of books? And the answer is...

WWW Links Regarding Our Third President

Go to the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory
"Washington, D.C. Sightseeing" website, and visit their page on
Thomas Jefferson.

Go to the page for Thomas Jefferson maintained by the
White House Historical Association.

B.L. Rayner's "Life of Thomas Jefferson", the complete biography of the Third President originally published in 1834, is available online in a revised edition from Eyler Robert Coates, Sr.

Sample the writings of our Third President by going to
The Letters of Thomas Jefferson,

Or by going to The Works of Thomas Jefferson
by Liberty Online Publishing.

Experience the wisdom of the man by going to the page for
Jefferson's Quotes on government, politics and more.


And go to the Jeffersonian Perspective for commentary on today's political issues based upon the writings of Thomas Jefferson.


Visit the Monticello Historic Site's pages on The Home of Our Third President, including their extensive  "Day in the Life of Thomas Jefferson" series.  Monticello is also the site where President Jefferson is buried.

Go to Lucidcafe's
Thomas Jefferson Page.

Read the Inaugural Addresses of each of our presidents by going to the site maintained by the Bartleby Library.

The Mount Rushmore National Monument was the vision of sculptor John Gutzon Borglum, and stands in the Black Hills of South Dakota on the face of the 6000 foot mountain that bears its name. The carving took place over a fourteen year period from 1927 to 1941.

Borglum is said to have chosen to include Thomas Jefferson as one of the four Presidents honored because of his roles in defining the philosophy of the nation, and in securing the Louisiana Purchase, which represented the nation's expansion.

To see and learn more about this magnificent historic site, go to The Official Mount Rushmore Home Page, maintained by the South Dakota Tourism Bureau, or the National Park Service's Mount Rushmore National Monument Home Page.

Go to National Park Service to learn more and plan your visit to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial along the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.

Go to the page for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri, also maintained by the National Park Service.


Return to the Chief Executive Club Main Page for fast facts and more about our other presidents.

© 1998, 2000, 2001, 2009 Thomas J. Lemmer

(This page was last edited on January 29, 2009 by Thomas J. Lemmer)