3rd U.S. President: Thomas Jefferson

About the third President of the United States Thomas Jefferson, his birth, death, biography, description, facts and quotes.


Born: April 13, 1743, in Albemarle County, Va.

Died: July 4, 1826-the 50th anniversary of American independence-at his hilltop Virginia home, Monticello.

Career: Prosperous Colonial lawyer, member of Virginia House of Burgesses at 26, author of the Declaration of Independence at 33, governor of Virginia, Minister to France, Secretary of State under Washington, defeated presidential candidate (1796), and Vice-President. A planter and an amateur scientist all his life.

Personal Life: As a young man, he attempted to seduce the wife of one of his friends and pursued an unhappy infatuation with another Virginia belle before his attentions settled on a young widow named Martha Skelton. His 10 years of marriage were happy ones, but Martha died at 33. Jefferson honored his promise to her never to remarry, but while serving as Minister to France he became romantically involved with Mrs. Maria Cosway, a famous beauty. He also developed an attachment to Sally Hemings, one of his teen-age slaves. Some, if not all, of Sally's 5 children were probably fathered by Jefferson.

His Person: Known as "Long Tom," Jefferson was 6'2 1/2" tall, with a pinkish, freckled complexion, carrot-red hair, and hazel eyes. As President, he scandalized the British Ambassador with his informal dress (a worn brown coat and carpet slippers without heels). He suffered most of his life from migraine head-aches.

Elections: In the "Revolution of 1800," running as the candidate of "equal rights and civil liberties," Jefferson unseated President John Adams, 73 electoral votes to 65. Running for reelection in 1804, the popular Jefferson had an easier time of it, beating Federalist Gen. Charles C. Pinckney 162 electoral votes to 14.

Term of Office: March 4, 1801-March 4, 1809 (8 years).

Little-known Facts: Jefferson bathed his feet in cold water every morning in the belief that this kept off colds. During his 8 years in the White House he ran up a personal wine bill of $10,835. He kept a pet mockingbird in his study in Washington. He taught the bird to sit on his shoulder, and even to peck its food from its master's own lips. Jefferson's many noteworthy inventions included: the revolving chair, a pedometer, a revolving music stand, a letter-copying press and a hemp machine.

Quotes from Jefferson:

"Science is my passion, politics my duty."

"I view great cities as pestilential to the morals, the health and the liberties of man."

"A little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."

Quotes about Him:

"He was a mixture of profound and sagacious observation, with strong prejudices and irritated passions."-John Quincy Adams

"The principles of Jefferson are the axioms of a free society."-Abraham Lincoln

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