by Shannon Firth

Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States of America, was an architect, a philosopher, a Deist and an impeccable prose stylist. His passionate appeal to dissolve ties with England—the Declaration of Independence—led the early colonies to war and ultimately freedom. As president, he earned respect for his sound principles and industrious nature, though his private life has been subjected to intense scrutiny.

Early Days

Thomas Jefferson is considered by many “the first cultured President” of the United States. He was born into a privileged family in Albemarle County, Va., on April 13, 1743. His father, Peter, was a plantation owner, and his mother Jane was a daughter in the aristocratic Randolph clan.

Despite his family’s status, he was grounded. History Empire writes, “There were very few things he asked others to do that he wasn’t willing to do himself.” His curiosity and diligence inspired hands-on learning in many fields, including archeology before it was a science.

At the college of William & Mary, Jefferson studied the Scottish Enlightenment, blending his passions for law, philosophy and science. He would draw from his lessons in later years in his “task of nation-building,” The History Channel reports. Much later he founded a college of his own, The University of Virginia.

After graduation he pursued law, and in his 20s began building his home Monticello—Italian for “little mountain”—in Charlottesville, Va., in the Palladian style he’d adopted from the French.

In 1772 he married Martha Wayles Skelton, a 23-year-old widow, who doubled his land holdings. She died 10 years later in childbirth. According to the American Memory Project, only two of his six children with Martha lived to adulthood.

The 10th Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”



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