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Thomas Jefferson

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Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 to Peter and Jane Jefferson. His exact place of birth is not known. But it is believed to be about five miles outside of Charlottesville. He had ten brothers and sisters, but many of them died very young. Jefferson was one of two surviving sons. He was sandy-haired, tall, and awkward. His nickname was "Long Tom." He really enjoyed outdoor activities, especially riding, shooting, and canoeing. Jefferson was also great musician and a diligent worker who loved to study. His father impressed upon him a love of reading and writing. Although he was not a great public speaker, Jefferson was a very eloquent writer. After his father's death, Jefferson left for school in Williamsburg. He fell in love there many times, but did not marry until he entered law school. He met and fell in love with a twenty-one year old widow named Martha Skelton, they married in 1772. The couple had six children, but three died in infancy. By all accounts, they had a very happy marriage. "The young couple was exceedingly happy and exceedingly busy...[they were] gay and loving"(Padover, 23). Early in their marriage they were very wealthy. The Jefferson's were one of the largest land owners in Virginia by the time Tom was in his late twenties. Partly because of Tom's hard work, but mainly because of the large amount of land and money left to them by Martha's father in his will.

In his thirties, Jefferson was Virginia's delegate to congress. He wrote the Declaration of Independence at the age of thirty-three. This was Jefferson's most famous piece of literature. He also wrote the bill establishing religious freedom, this backed up the ideas he threaded into the Declaration. Originally, Jefferson tried to add a clause to free the slaves, but southern delegates would not sign the Declaration until that clause was removed. He claimed he planned to free his slaves after his death. Jefferson fought for the Republican party and argued strongly against Federalist policies. The Republican party was later renamed the Jeffersonian Republicans after him.

Jefferson was a very reluctant candidate for president. He lost by only three votes. Because of a flaw in the constitution he became Vice-President under John Adams even though he was an opponent. Years later, the same clause brought about another problem, when Aaron Burr and Jefferson tied for President. The House of Representative settled the tie.

Jefferson had high and almost immediate popularity as President. Almost as soon as he came into office, the crisis in France passed. He then cut army expenditures and many taxes. He also acquired territory from Napoleon through the Louisiana Purchase.

After his presidency, Jefferson retired to Monticello. He still enjoyed many of his outdoor activities, but also used much of his time to develop ideas. He constantly received letters from friends and the inquisitive. After his death, Jefferson's grandson found twenty six thousand letters and sixteen thousand responses on file. In his old age, Jefferson got the idea for a system of higher learning. He introduced his



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