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Presidents of the USA
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Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was a founding father of the US, the author of the draft of the Declaration of Independence, and the third President of the United States of America. This great man was a long-term legislator, lawyer, diplomat, architect, inventor, scientist, agriculturist, writer, and revolutionary thinker.
Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, at Shadwell, Goochland (now called Albemarle) County, Virginia. His father, Peter Jefferson, was a successful planter and surveyor in Virginia. His mother, Jane Randolph Jefferson, was from a wealthy family.
Education and Marriage:
From 1760 to 1762, Jefferson attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. He later studied law privately. He began practicing law in 1767.
Monticello was the Virginia house that Jefferson designed and lived in most of his life. It was built on land that he inherited from his family. Construction on Monticello began in 1769 but continued for decades as Jefferson added to the house.
In 1772, Jefferson married Martha Wayles Skelton (she died in 1782, after giving birth to their sixth child, Lucy Elizabeth). Only two of their children survived to adulthood.
Jefferson had, on average, about 200 slaves who ran his house and grew food on his large estate.
While a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1775, Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence (it was amended by Benjamin Franklin and other committee members).
In 1776, Jefferson was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, where he fought for the separation of church and state and other causes that were important to him. Jefferson became the Governor of Virginia in 1779, but resigned his second term in 1781 after the British (led by the turncoat Benedict Arnold) invaded Virginia. Jefferson had been unprepared for the attack and soon became very unpopular in Virginia.
In 1783, Jefferson was elected to Congress (from Virginia). Soon after, in 1785, President George Washington appointed Jefferson as the US Minister to France (replacing Benjamin Franklin). In 1789, Washington appointed him Secretary of State, but he resigned on Dec. 31, 1793 (after major differences with Alexander Hamilton).
In 1796, Jefferson ran for President of the USA, but lost. John Adams won, and Jefferson became Vice-President of the USA (it was an unusual administration since Adams and Jefferson had been opponents).
Serving as President:
Jefferson was elected President in 1800 (defeating Adams). He was re-elected to a second term in 1804. His Vice-Presidents were Aaron Burr and George Clinton.
As President, Jefferson arranged the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803. The Louisiana Purchase increased the area of the United States tremendously (it had an area of 828,000 square miles (2,155,500 square kilometers). Soon after (in 1804), Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to map the newly-acquired western US territory (they returned in 1806 with maps, newly-discovered animals, and information about Indian tribes).
Late in Life:
Jefferson retired from elected office in 1809 and went to live at Monticello - he never again left the state of Virginia. In 1814, Thomas Jefferson sold his extensive personal library to government of the US to re-start the Library of Congress, which has been burned during the War of 1812; Jefferson was paid $23,950 for his 6,487 books. In 1819, Jefferson founded the University of Virginia.
Jefferson died at Monticello on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. John Adams died later that same day. They were the only two signers of the Declaration of Independence who were elected President of the USA.
Thomas Jefferson Cloze QuizDo a fill-in-the blanks activity on Thomas Jefferson. Or go to the answers.
Thomas Jefferson Printout/QuizColor Thomas Jefferson, learn about his life, and take a short quiz. Or go to the answers.
Thomas Jefferson TimelineSee a timeline of Thomas Jefferson's life.
Thomas Jefferson Cloze Activity
For a fill-in-the-blanks on the third President of the United States.
Lewis and Clark: Follow the Instructions
Color the trail that Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery followed in their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase according to simple directions, such as, "Draw a red star at their starting point." For beginning readers. Or go to the answers.
Lewis and Clark: Follow the Instructions #2
Color the trail that Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery followed in their exploration of the Louisiana Purchase according to simple directions, such as, "Draw a red star at their starting point." For fluent readers. Or go to the answers.
Mt. Rushmore National MemorialRead about Mt. Rushmore and how it was built by Gutzon Borglum. Or go to a printout on Mt. Rushmore.
Nickel Coloring Page Printout
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