Thomas Jefferson

By Mather Brown, 1786. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; bequest of Charles Francis Adams

Third President, 1801-1809

Thomas Jefferson was truly a Renaissance man. A brilliant scholar, inventor, naturalist, and architect, Jefferson played the violin, spoke six languages, conducted archeological investigations of Native American mounds, founded the University of Virginia, and assembled a 10,000-book library which became the foundation of the Library of Congress. His writing talent produced the historic Declaration of Independence, the document that boldly told King George that the colonies would no longer accept his rule. Jefferson's political savvy led him to hold a number of governmental positions before becoming president: he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses when he was only 25, served in the Continental Congress, became governor of Virginia, a
diplomat in Europe where he helped negotiate the treaties that ended the Revolutionary War, secretary of state under Washington, and vice president under John Adams. During his presidency, Jefferson doubled the size of the country by purchasing the territory of Louisiana.

Era Related to this President
Revolution and the New Nation (1754-1820s)
Objects Related to this President
Compass used on Lewis and Clark expedition, 1803
Thomas Jefferson's polygraph
Paperweight with the image of Thomas Jefferson
Desk designed and used by Thomas Jefferson
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