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Thomas Jefferson (April 13 [O.S. April 2] 1743 – July 4, 1826) was an American lawyer, a Founding Father and principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776). He was elected the second Vice President of the United States (1797–1801) and the third President of the United States (1801–1809).

He was a formidable proponent of democracy, republicanism and individual rights–principles which motivated American colonists to break from their native England and form a new nation. Jefferson tangibly advanced these convictions by assuming influential political positions from which he produced formative documents and decisions governing the United States, at both the state and national level. In 1777 he wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. During the American Revolution, he represented Virginia in the Continental Congress which adopted the Declaration, and later served as a wartime Governor of Virginia (1779–1781). He became the United States Minister to France in May 1785, and subsequently the first United States Secretary of State from 1790–1793, serving under President George Washington. Jefferson and James Madison organized the Democratic-Republican Party to oppose the Federalist Party led by Alexander Hamilton in the formation of the First Party System. He was elected Vice President of the United States in the election of 1796, serving in the administration of President John Adams. Jefferson and Madison in 1798–1799 secretly wrote the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions which sought to embolden the rights of the states as opposed to the national government; the enactments were specifically intended to nullify the Alien and Sedition Acts.

He became President of the United States in the election of 1800, and as such defended the nation's interests from African and British offenses, while immensely increasing the country's land mass, undertaking problems with the Indian tribes and modestly curtailing the slave trade. After peace negotiations with France, his administration reduced military forces. Three years later he waged a brief naval campaign against the Barbary Coast states in North Africa to defend American shipping. During his presidency, the United States purchased the vast western Louisiana Territory from Napoleonic France (1803), and commissioned the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806) to explore the new West. After his re-election in 1804, his second term was beset with difficulties at home, including the acquittal of former Vice President Aaron Burr for treason. American foreign trade was diminished when Jefferson signed and implemented the Embargo Act of 1807, in response to British threats to U.S. shipping. In 1803, Jefferson initiated a controversial process of Indian tribe removal to the newly organized Louisiana Territory west of the Mississippi River. He signed into law in 1807 the intensely debated Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves that banned slave importation into the United States. In the aggregate, Jefferson is ranked by historians as the fifth most successful U.S. President.

A champion of the Age of Enlightenment, Jefferson was diversely talented in the arts, sciences, agriculture and politics. He was a proven architect in the classical tradition, and designed his home Monticello, the Virginia State Capitol and other important buildings. His keen interest in religion and philosophy also earned him the presidency of the American Philosophical Society. He shunned organized religion, but was influenced by both Christianity and deism. Besides English, he was well versed in Latin, Greek, French, Italian and Spanish. He founded the University of Virginia in his retirement from public office. Although ineffectual as an orator, Jefferson was a skilled writer and corresponded with many influential people in America and Europe. Most historians believe that after the death of his wife Martha in 1782, he had a long-term relationship with his female slave Sally Hemings, and fathered at least some of her children. Jefferson died on the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.


Thomas Jefferson sections
Intro  Early life and career  Political career 1775\u20131800  Presidency 1801\u20131809  Later years  Historical reputation  Political philosophy and views  Slavery  Religion  Interests and activities  Memorials and honors  Writings  See also  Notes  References  Bibliography  External links  

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