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Thomas Jefferson [1743-1826] had a vital role in American history. He is credited as the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and became the third president of the United States. Here are more interesting facts about this multi-talented man who went down history as one of the Founding Fathers of America.
- Thomas Jefferson was a lawyer by profession. However, he also was an accomplished architect [his own home the Monticello, The Rotunda at the University of Virginia and the Virginia State Capital are some of the buildings he designed], an inventor and an educator. His own building style is known as Jeffersonian Architecture. Both the Monticello and the Rotunda have been designated World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
- Jefferson was also a linguist and spoke a total of six languages. Aside from English, he spoke Spanish, French, Italian, Greek and Latin.
- He was one of the youngest delegates in the Second Continental Congress held in Philadelphia as he was only 33 at that time. He became friends with John Adams, the leader of the Congress and went on to become part of the five-man committee tasked to write the Declaration of Independence. He single-handedly drafted the document in the next 17 days and when presented to the other four members of the committee for revisions, more than 75% of his original draft was left intact. This is the reason why Jefferson is credited the primary writer of one of America’s most important early documents. The Declaration of Independence contains one of the most well-known expressions in the English language, the phrase “all men are created equal”.
- But Thomas Jefferson didn’t consider himself a very good speaker. As one of America’s Founding Fathers and original members of the Patriot cause, he chose to show his support through his writings. It has been estimated that Jefferson wrote about 19,000 letters throughout his lifetime.
- Aside from the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson authored the Virginia Statutes for Religious Freedom in the late 1770s. It was approved by Virginia lawmakers in 1786 and is considered one of his career’s important achievements. The Virginia Statutes was one of the early models of the First Amendment to the US Constitution which protects each American citizen’s freedom of religion [freedom to worship as one chooses].
- Jefferson was one of the founders of the Democratic-Republican Party which, in those times, stood opposite the Federalist Party. Jefferson’s party favored a strong national government with wide-ranging powers over the country’s economy.
- Jefferson was rather contradictory when it came to slavery. While he did advocate for individual liberty, his estate had over 100 slaves and he owned them until the day his death. And while the Declaration of Independence included the phrase “all men are created equal”, Jefferson personally believed that African Americans were created inferior to the whites and that the two races couldn’t co-exist peacefully in freedom.
- Upon his father’s death, he inherited 175 slaves. And throughout his lifetime, he owned about 600. Only a small number of this was set free as stipulated in his will when he died; the rest were sold.
- He was the United States’ first Secretary of State. The post was given to him by appointment of the first US President George Washington in 1789.
- Thomas Jefferson ran for presidency during the 1796 presidential election against his longtime friend John Adams. He received the second highest number of votes and – in accordance to laws in those times – that made him the vice president.
- He ran against Adams again in the 1800 election. Voting that year turned in a bitter rivalry between the Democratic-Republican Party [Jefferson’s] and the Federalist Party [Adams]. But due to a flaw in the electoral system, Jefferson defeated Adams. He came in a tie with fellow Democratic-Republican Aaron Burr. The Congress broke the tie through a 36-ballot election and Jefferson emerged as the winner in the end and Burr ended up as his vice-president.
- To prevent the same scenario from happening again, the Congress proposed the Twelfth Amendment to the US Constitution which called for a separate voting for the president and vice president seats. It was approved in 1804.
- Thomas Jefferson’s presidential inauguration on March 4, 1801 was the first one done in Washington DC. And untraditionally, he walked to and from the ceremony [tradition called for riding in a horse-drawn carriage].
- One important achievement Jefferson did during his first term as president was buying the Louisiana Territory for $15 million from France in 1803. The purchase doubled the size of the United States as the newly-bought territory measured over 820,000 miles.
- Jefferson then delegated Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) and William Clark (1770-1838) to explore the newly acquired yet unexplored land as well as the area beyond that stretched out to the Pacific Ocean. The exploration, which lasted from 1804 to 1806, provided very important information about the western part of the continent — American Indian tribes as well as plant and animal life. The Lewis and Clark expedition is known today as the Corps of Discovery.
- In 1804, Jefferson ran for reelection and was pitted against Charles Pinckney of the Federalist Party. He won.
- One unforgettable decision Jefferson made during his second term as president was implementing the Embargo of 1807 in his bid to keep the United States from the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. The embargo hurt the country’s economy and was unpopular among many Americans. It was repealed in 1809 and, in spite of Jefferson’s efforts to be neutral, America fought against Britain in 1812.
- Jefferson died at the age of 83 on July 4, 1826. The date of his death fell on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Coincidentally, his longtime friend, fellow Patriot, signer of the preamble and also former US president, John Adams died on the same day as him. Thomas Jefferson was buried in Monticello. His gravestone bears an inscription of the three things he was so proud of — his main authorship of the Declaration of Independence, his writing the Virginia Statutes and his founding of the University of Virginia on 1819.
- To date, Jefferson is one of the carved faces on Mount Rushmore, has a memorial in his honor [the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC] and the US nickel bears his image.
- Thomas Jefferson was one of the only two Declaration of Independence signatories who later went on to become presidents of the United States. The other one was his longtime friend, John Adams.
- Thomas Jefferson sold his personal library to the Congress for $23, 950 in 1815 after the
- The British burned the US Capitol which housed the Library of Congress during the War of 1812. His personal collection – which numbered about 6,700 books – became the foundation collection of the rebuilt Library of Congress.
Thomas Jefferson Worksheets
This bundle contains 11 ready-to-use Thomas Jefferson Worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about Thomas Jefferson who is credited as the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and became the third president of the United States.
Download includes the following worksheets:
- Thomas Jefferson Facts
- The Statesman
- The Louisiana Purchase
- Mount Rushmore
- Accomplishment Report
- The Declaration of Independence
- Search the President
- Quotable Quotes
- Jeffersonian Architecture
- I Learned that …
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Link will appear as Thomas Jefferson Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 4, 2017
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