Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States and the man responsible for the majority of the wording in the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson was a lawyer, horticulturist, writer, politician, and leader. For all of Jefferson’s contributions in making America what it is today his face is on the two dollar bill.
1. Third President of the United States
Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States. His first Vice President was Aaron Burr. He was in office for two terms from March 4, 1801 to March 4, 1809. Although being president is certainly a life achievement of note, Jefferson was more proud of his involvement in the Virginia State government, the writing of the Declaration of Independence and his founding of the University of Virginia. The fact that he was the third U.S. President is not even reflected on his tombstone.
2. Principal author of the Declaration of Independence
In June 1776, Jefferson was appointed to a five-man committee to prepare what we now know as the Declaration of Independence. The committee selected Jefferson to write the first draft because of his reputation as a writer. Jefferson was solely responsible for the wording of the declaration with the exception of about a quarter of the document which was re-written by the committee. On July 4, 1776, the wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved.
3. Second Vice President of the United States under John Adams
Thomas Jefferson was the second Vice President of the United States of America and served under John Adams from March 4, 1797 to March 4, 1801. As the first Democratic-Republican candidate in 1796 he lost to John Adams, but had enough electoral votes to become the Vice President.
4. First United States Secretary of State
Thomas Jefferson served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington from September 26, 1789Â toÂ December 31, 1793. During his term Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton had many disagreements over the issue of national fiscal policy. Hamilton believing that the debts accrued by the states during the war should be equally shared, and Jefferson believed that each state should be responsible for its own debt. As people began to take sides on this and other Jefferson versus Hamilton issues the terms Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian were born.
5. U.S. Ambassador to France
Thomas Jefferson was a United States Ambassador to France. Benjamin Franklin preceded Jefferson in this position. The Congress of the Confederation appointed him to his position as ambassador. While serving, he spent much of his time enjoying the architectural sites of Paris and being a frequent dinner guest to many prominent French citizens.
6. Delegate from Virginia to the Second Continental Congress (1775-1776)
It was because of this delegation that Jefferson was among the five men who were picked to draft the Declaration of Independence.
Jefferson is considered one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of republicanism in the United States, ideals that had previously existed but had not had a voice in government.
8. Jeffersonian Democracy
Jefferson’s challenges to traditional political thinking lead to his co-founding and leading of the Democratic-Republican Party, a party that existed officially for decades. This party also used the entity of a Jeffersonian democracy.
9. Founder of the University of Virginia
Jefferson has a great love of education. He was a well recognized lawyer, horticulturist, and writer. He had many other academic interests as well. This love of learning turned into the dream of establishing a University. Jefferson realized his dream when in 1819 he founded the University of Virginia. When the school opened in 1825 it was the first of its kind to offer a range of elective courses to its students. The construction of the University was also of note. Jefferson was the architect of the edifice and oversaw its construction himself. It was one of the largest construction projects in North America at the time. The University was also unique in that is was centered about a library rather than a church. Jefferson was so personally attached to the University that, until his death, Jefferson invited students and faculty of the school to his home. The innovative design of the University of Virginia are said to be “powerful representation of his aspirations for both state sponsored education and an agrarian democracy in the new Republic.”
10. Second Governor of Virginia
Jefferson served as governor of Virginia from 1779-1781. Jefferson was proud of his connection to that state of Virginia where he built his beautiful home, the Monticello, and his beloved University.
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