Thomas Jefferson was born April 13, 1743, on Shadwell Plantation, in Albermarle Country, Virginia. He married Martha Wayles Skelton on January 1, 1772, and had six children, but only two daughters survived. When Martha died in 1782, Thomas never remarried.
While the American Revolution was still being fought, Thomas Jefferson fought to change some of Virginia’s laws and after several years saw a bill pass allowing people complete religious freedom, the first of its kind anywhere. Despite his youth at the time — only 33 — the Continental Congress in 1776 selected Jefferson as their principal writer. After the Congress approved his masterpiece and John Hancock became its first signer on July 4, 1776, Jefferson became known as the “Father of the Declaration of Independence.”
Jefferson served the new country as Ambassador of France and Secretary of State under George Washington. In the election of 1796, Jefferson ran as a Democratic-Republican against John Adams and lost, but by the system then, he became Vice President, although he and Adams were from different parties and disagreed on many issues. In 1800, Jefferson ran against Adams and defeated him.
Jefferson’s first Vice President in 1801 was Aaron Burr, and his second in 1805 was George Clinton. During office, his term of office, Ohio became the 17th state to be admitted to the Union. The country acquired the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 from France for $15 million, and Jefferson sent explorers Lewis and Clark to survey the land. This expedition took three years.
Building on Adams’s initiative, Jefferson also created America’s first Navy.
After his term as President ended in 1809, Jefferson devoted his life to the University of Virginia and to his estate, Monticello, which he conceived, planned, and designed. He even supervised its construction and the hiring of its teachers. He died on July 4, 1826, the same day as President John Adams, 50 years from the creation and signing of the Declaration of Independence.