Thomas Jefferson, the third President of USA, was the third of eight siblings in Virginia. Jane Randolph was his mother who came from a family of high social standing. Her father, Isham Randolph was the captain of a ship and a planter. The father of Thomas Jefferson was Peter Jefferson who was a planter as well as surveyor. His ancestors were of English origin.
At the age of nine Thomas started going to a neighbouring school that was run by a Scottish minister. From that early age he began to learn Latin, Greek as well as French. Thomas lost his father when he was only 14 years old. He inherited 20 square km of land and many dozens of slaves. With time he settled here which later came to be known as Monticello. He continued his education at the school of another minister 19 km from his home. Here he came in touch with classical learning, science and history.
When 16, Thomas joined The College of William and Mary and graduated with high laurels in 1762. Although his stream was philosophy he also studied mathematics and the writings of Locke, Bacon and Newton. Jefferson referred to them as the three greatest individuals the world had ever seen.
Playing the violin was another hobby of Thomas. Curious in all fields of knowledge he often studied for fifteen hours in a day. While in college he joined a secret organization known as the Flat Hat Club. Jefferson frequented the communal meals in the hall, regularly attended prayers at the chapel and was frequently invited to lavish parties hosted by the Governor. Here he played the violin and acquired a taste for wines at an early age. After graduating Thomas Jefferson went on to study law and came to be admitted in 1767 to the Virginia bar.
Thomas Jefferson married Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson – a widow. They had six children.
Thomas Jefferson was tall with freckles and sandy hair. He was eloquent and a forceful correspondent. – although he was no orator. At the age of 33 he drafted the Declaration of Independence. In 1786 he also drafted anther bill trying to establish freedom of religion. It became law in 1786.
Jefferson followed Benjamin Franklin to be minister in France in 1785. Here he came to sympathize with the French Revolution. This led to a clash with the Secretary of State, Hamilton and Jefferson resigned in 1793. Sharp differences led to the formation of two parties – the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. Jefferson became leader of the Republicans and started to attack the policy of the Federalists. He opposed centralized government and was for the rights of the states.
As President Thomas Jefferson he cut down drastically expenses in the armed forces, did away with whisky tax and yet managed to bring down the national debt and send troops to put down the Barbary pirates who were disturbing American commerce in the Mediterranean. He tried hard, during his second term as President to keep the nation out of the Napoleonic wars although both England and France interfered with the neutral rights of American vessels. An embargo on American ships made him highly unpopular.
He retired to his home in Monticello to mull over great designs of setting up a University in Virginia in 1819. He lifted his mind from the mundane and moved around in a world of knowledge. The opening of the university with selective courses was a dream come true for Thomas Jefferson. It was the largest project in North America at that time and the notable fact was that it was built round a library and not the church. No chapel was there in the original plan. He invited scholars from abroad and one of them was Edgar Allan Poe.