Facts on Thomas Jefferson... Architect, founding father, inventor, third President of the United States, author of the Declaration of Independence...an all around fascinating man!
Without a doubt, Thomas Jefferson was one of our most interesting founding fathers - a man who inspires many and intrigues others. Quotes by Thomas Jefferson are probably some of the most loved in American history. In addition to background, history and facts about him, you'll also find some pictures of Thomas Jefferson here.
Check out this video below... it shows several clips featuring Thomas Jefferson, from the excellent series "John Adams". I just loved that miniseries! It really was the inspiration for starting this website...
Thomas Jefferson was born in Shadwell, Virginia on April 13, 1743. His father was Peter, a prominent surveyor and planter.
His mother, Jane Randolph Jefferson was a member of one of Virginia's elite families. He had six sisters - Jane, Mary (Bolling), Elizabeth, Martha (Carr), Lucy (Lewis), Anna Scott (Marks) (also known as Nancy) - and two brothers, Peter (died in infancy) and Randolph (twin of Anna Scott). There was one other baby who died at birth, a son that was unnamed.
Shadwell, the farm where Thomas Jefferson was born, adjoined Monticello... the estate where he designed and started building his beloved Monticello house when he was only twenty six years old. Thomas's father died when he was only 14 years old, and left him his Shadwell and Monticello estates.
Thomas Jefferson Education - Some other facts on Thomas Jefferson were that he was educated from a young age. He was schooled in English, French, Greek and Latin, and went on to attend the college of William and Mary. Thomas Jefferson enrolled in the philosophy school at William and Mary, which included physics, metaphysics, mathematics, rhetoric, logic, and ethics. He graduated from there in 1762, with the highest honors.
In 1769, Jefferson served as a representative in the Virginia House of Burgesses. In 1772, he married Martha Wayles Skelton. They moved in to Monticello, even though it was not yet finished. They had six children, of which only two lived to adulthood (daughters Mary and Martha). The other children were...Jane, Lucy, Elizabeth and an unnamed son who died at birth.
During his political life, Thomas Jefferson served in the Virginia House of Burgesses, the Second Continental Congress, and the Virginia House of Delegates. He was elected as Governor of Virginia, Vice President and 3rd President of the United States. He also served as representative to France, as well as Secretary of State.
One of the most interesting facts on Thomas Jefferson (at least it is to me!) is that he died on July 4, 1826... the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence... on the exact day as his old friend and political rival, John Adams, died. To learn about the long time friendship and rivalry between Jefferson and Adams, you can read The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams.
Many of us think that the greatest accomplishment of Thomas Jefferson was his magnificent writing of the Declaration of Independence, and the fact that he was a founding father and President. Jefferson, however, did not even want it mentioned that he was President of the United States, when he was deciding what would go on his tombstone. He wanted only three things listed. These were... Author of the Declaration of Independence, Author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and Father of the University of Virginia.
Another interesting fact on Thomas Jefferson is that in addition to his life as a lawyer, planter, architect and politician, he was also an inventor. One of his inventions was a better plow than was available at the time, but he never patented his idea. He also adapted several items to better suit his particular needs and wants. While serving as Secretary of State, he invented a wheel cipher that would allow a person to code secret messages. He devised a new type of spherical sundial. He designed a "Great clock" for Monticello that not only told time, but also days of the week.
The famous Thomas Jefferson lap desk, his portable writing desk or "writing box", as he called it, was one that he designed and had built by Philadelphia cabinet maker Benjamin Randolph. Thomas Jefferson was said to have written the Declaration of Independence on his portable writing desk. This lap desk weighed only five pounds, and allowed him to store his papers and write, no matter where he was. Click here to see a beautiful, accurate reproduction of the Thomas Jefferson Lap Desk.
Jefferson also devised a portable copying machine that he could take with him on his travels. It was based on the copying press that was invented by James Watt, but Jefferson's was portable. He designed dumb waiters for his dining room at Monticello, so that servants could send bottles of wine up from the cellar to the dining room. He probably saw something similar while in Paris. Jefferson also designed a revolving book stand that held five books and revolved. He apparently liked things that revolved, as he also designed a new type of revolving chair.
These are just a few of the inventions and adaptations of Thomas Jefferson. He had an inquisitive mind and seemed to enjoy tinkering with things!
Fun Fact on Thomas Jefferson: He would
sometimes greet White house visitors
in his robe and slippers. He also brought
a more casual atmosphere to White house dinners.
After the Capitol building was burned by the British during the war of 1812, destroying the small Library of Congress in the process, Thomas Jefferson offered his own library to replace the library's contents. His library was considered one of the finest in the country. Jefferson sold his collection of over 6,000 books to the government for just under $24,000. Unfortunately, many of those books (nearly two thirds) were destroyed in a later fire (in 1851). The remaining books are still in the Library of Congress today.
"The Real Thomas Jefferson (American Classic Series)" by Andrew M. Allison - An excellent Thomas Jefferson biography, including many pages of quotes by Thomas Jefferson. A great book to learn more facts on Thomas Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson : Writings : Autobiography / Notes on the State of Virginia / Public and Private Papers / Addresses / Letters (Library of America) - One of the best ways to learn about a person is to read their own words. This book includes many facts on Thomas Jefferson, including not only his autobiography, but also includes Jefferson's public and private papers, including the original and revised drafts of the Declaration of Independence, addresses, and 287 letters of Thomas Jefferson.
John Adams (HBO Miniseries) - While this is an excellent miniseries about John Adams, Thomas Jefferson is seen throughout the series, and you can discover some fun facts on Thomas Jefferson from watching it. This miniseries is one of my favorites! It was my inspiration for starting American History Fun Facts, because I learned so many fascinating facts on Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the American Revolution. It inspired me to research more about what I had seen, resulting in this website.
To learn even more facts on Thomas Jefferson, you can find some great Thomas Jefferson books, DVDs, collectibles and other items in our Thomas Jefferson Shop.
If you've enjoyed reading these fun facts on Thomas Jefferson, be sure to read some of our other pages too. There are American history fun facts all OVER this site!