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Thomas Jefferson

What Number President was He?


A prominent advocate for democracy, Thomas Jefferson played crucial roles in American history as a Founding Father, primary author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and the United States' third President (1801–1809).In the midst of partisan strife in 1800, Jefferson privately penned, "I have pledged an everlasting enmity to all forms of oppression over the human intellect."This strong champion of freedom was born in 1743 in Albemarle County, Virginia. He inherited about 5,000 acres of land from his planter and surveyor father and a position of esteem due to his mother's Randolph lineage. After attending the College of William and Mary, he pursued law studies. In 1772, he married widow Martha Wayles Skelton and established their residence at Monticello, his partly constructed mountaintop dwelling.Jefferson, marked by freckles and sandy hair, tall and somewhat awkward in stature, excelled in correspondence but not public speaking. His contributions in the Virginia House of Burgesses and Continental Congress were through his writing for the patriot cause. As the "quiet member" of the Congress, he, at 33, drafted the Declaration of Independence. Subsequently, he worked to translate its ideals into reality in Virginia, notably penning a statute for religious freedom, passed in 1786.Taking over as France's envoy in 1785 after Benjamin Franklin, Jefferson's support for the French Revolution caused clashes with Alexander Hamilton while serving as Secretary of State under President Washington. He eventually resigned in 1793.Amidst intensifying political discord, the Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties emerged. Jefferson gradually led the Republican faction, which sympathized with the French Revolution and opposed Federalist policies, advocating state rights over a powerful central government.A reluctant 1796 Presidential contender, Jefferson narrowly missed election. A Constitutional oversight made him Vice President, despite opposing President Adams. In 1800, this flaw caused more significant complications, leading to a tie vote between Jefferson and Aaron Burr among Republican electors. The House of Representatives resolved the deadlock, even though Hamilton, disliking both Jefferson and Burr, urged Jefferson's election.Upon taking office, Jefferson inherited a calmer French situation and implemented cost-cutting measures. He reduced the national debt by a third by reducing military spending, eliminating the unpopular whiskey tax in the West, and even confronting Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean through a naval squadron. Jefferson overlooked constitutional reservations to acquire the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon in 1803.During his second term, Jefferson focused on keeping the United States out of the Napoleonic wars. Despite England and France infringing on American merchant ships' neutral rights, his embargo strategy failed and was unpopular.Jefferson retired to Monticello, where he contemplated projects like the University of Virginia. A French nobleman remarked that he positioned both his house and mind "on an elevated situation, from which he might contemplate the universe."He passed away on July 4, 1826.

Thomas Jefferson

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal. . . ." "it is the great parent of science & of virtue: and that a nation will be great in both, always in proportion as it is free." "our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost."

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