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Portrait of Thomas Jefferson, 1827

Context

Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers of the United States, was born on April 13, 1743 in Shadwell near Charlottesville, Virginia. He attended the College of William and Mary where he studied to be a lawyer and later practiced law in Albemarle County, Virginia.

Thomas Jefferson’s political career spanned over the course of 40 years with many majors accomplishments such as writing the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and the Declaration of Independence. His career started in 1769 when he was elected into the House of Burgesses, representing Albemarle County until independence. Following Independence Jefferson served in the House of Delegates until he was elected Governor of Virginia in 1779 where he served two terms. From 1785-1789, Jefferson served as the minster to France, replacing founding father Benjamin Franklin. During the constitutional convention he was in France, but noted that he supported adding a Bill of Rights to the Constitution. Jefferson served as the first Secretary of State, second Vice President of the United States and third President of the United States. During his Presidency his major accomplishments includes the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Following the end of his political career Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia that was chartered by the General Assembly in 1819. Jefferson had been married to his wife Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson, whom together they had six children but only two daughters lived into adulthood. His wife Martha died in 1782. Jefferson died on July 4th 1826, 50 years after the ratification of The Declaration of Independence. He is buried at his home Monticello near Charlottesville, Virginia with a tombstone marked with an epitaph he requested listing what he believed to be his greatest accomplishments. Interestingly enough he did not name being President of the United States on his epitaph, which is listed below:

Here was buried
Thomas Jefferson
author of the
Declaration
of American Independence
of the
Statute of Virginia
for
Religious Freedom
and the Father of the
University of Virginia

Citations: Portrait of Thomas Jefferson, ca. 1827, by George Catlin after Thomas Sully.State Art Collection of Virginia. LAB #07_0978_ART017_10. "Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826)." Education from LVA. Library of Virginia. http://edu.lva.virginia.gov/online_classroom/shaping_the_constitution/people/thomas_jefferson?mode=pv Accessed October 14, 2015.

Standards

History: VS.1, VS.5, VS.6, USI.1, USI.6, USI.7, VUS.1, VUS.5
Art: 4.18, 4.19, 5.18, 5.19

Suggested Questions

Political Plans: What might be a reason Thomas Jefferson did not list being President of the United States as one of his greatest accomplishments?

Virginia Validation: What are some ways that policy passed by Thomas Jefferson in Virginia impacted the entire nation?

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