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Portrait of Thomas Jefferson, 1827


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 the course of 40 years.  He had many major 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 minister 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 include the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Following the end of his political career, Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, and it was chartered by the General Assembly in 1819.

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 reproduced below:

Here was buried
Thomas Jefferson
author of the
of American Independence
of the
Statute of Virginia
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. Accessed October 14, 2015.


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?

Artistic Exploration:  Examine the portrait painting of Jefferson;  using the painting as your source, what can you conclude about Jefferson, the man and the legend?  Look in particular at his dress, posture, and facial expression.


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