Whether you are studying for an American history exam or simply want to learn more about the man who made a significant mark on America over 200 years ago, the following Thomas Jefferson facts will tell you how this Founding Father earned a spot in history lessons taught in countries around the globe for centuries to come.
Who is Thomas Jefferson?
Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States of America and the author of the Declaration of Independence. He was born April 13, 1743, in what is now Albemarle County, Va., and went on to study at the College of William and Mary before marrying a widow by the name of Martha Wayles Skelton in 1772. Jefferson's journey to the presidency began in June 1775 when he became a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, a position he held until September of the following year. Jefferson went on to become the second governor of Virginia in 1779 and succeeded Benjamin Franklin as the U.S. minister to France in May 1785. Five years later, in March 1790, Jefferson became the first U.S. secretary of state under George Washington. He became the second vice president of the United States during John Adam's term, from 1797 to 1801. On March 4, 1801, Thomas Jefferson took office as the third president of the United States, holding the position until 1809.
The Declaration of Independence
In addition to his role as America's third president, Thomas Jefferson will forever be known for drafting the Declaration of Independence in 1776 at the age of 33. This declaration announced that the 13 American Colonies in existence at that time would no longer consider themselves part of the British Empire, but instead were each an independent state. The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, by the Second Continental Congress, marking the United States of America's freedom from Great Britain more than a year after the Revolutionary War between the Colonies and Great Britain had begun. Perhaps the most famous sentence found in the document drafted by Jefferson reads, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.' This statement is still mentioned frequently in modern-day America during discussions of human and civil rights for marginalized portions of society.
Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark expedition
Throughout the duration of his eight-year presidency, Jefferson left a lasting legacy on the United States of America with a series of notable moments and accomplishments. One such notable endeavor began in 1804, when Jefferson appointed Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to lead an expedition that was to explore the Louisiana Purchase-a considerable portion of land acquired from France that Jefferson authorized the purchase of in 1803. The addition of the Louisiana Purchase nearly doubled the size of the United States at the time, leaving much to be discovered west of the Mississippi River. Lewis and Clark-along with 45 additional recruits-set out on the two-year expedition to accomplish several goals set forth by President Jefferson. These goals included locating a "direct and practicable water communication across this continent, for the purpose of commerce," and bringing home a wealth of knowledge about the geography and environmental features of the land that stretched to the west just waiting to be explored.