Thomas Jefferson was the third President of the United States, serving from 1801 to 1809. He was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and the principal author of the [Declaration of Independence](https://doctorparadox.net/save-democracy/declaration-of-independence/).
Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743, in Shadwell, Virginia. He was the third of ten children in a prosperous family. His father, Peter Jefferson, was a successful planter and surveyor and his mother, Jane Randolph, was a member of one of Virginia's most distinguished families.
Jefferson began his education at home under tutors and continued at a local school. He later studied at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, where he took an interest in science, philosophy, and the classics. He went on to study law with George Wythe, the first American law professor.
After completing his studies, Jefferson practiced law and served in local government as a magistrate, county lieutenant, and member of the House of Burgesses in his early political career. He was elected to the Second Continental Congress in 1775, at the outset of the American [[Revolutionary War]].
## Declaration of Independence
Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence in 1776, which was adopted on July 4th of that year. The document has been regarded as a powerful statement of human rights and freedom, and it significantly influenced other similar documents around the world.
From 1779 to 1781, Jefferson served as the Governor of Virginia. He was later sent to France as a diplomat, succeeding Benjamin Franklin as the U.S. Minister to France from 1785 to 1789. His experiences in Europe widened his views on governance and political philosophy, which later influenced his presidency.
In 1790, Jefferson became the first U.S. Secretary of State under President George Washington. Despite his role in the administration, he had several political conflicts with Alexander Hamilton, the Secretary of the Treasury. Their disagreements over the role of the federal government led to the formation of the first U.S. political parties, with Jefferson leading the Democratic-Republican Party.
## Third President
Jefferson served as Vice President under John Adams from 1797 to 1801. He then won the presidential election of 1800, marking the first peaceful transition of power between political parties in U.S. history. He was re-elected in 1804.
As President, Jefferson pursued policies aimed at decentralizing the government and promoting individual freedoms. His most notable achievement was the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, which doubled the size of the United States.
## Retirement and legacy
After his presidency, Jefferson retired to his Virginia [[plantation]], Monticello, where he focused on various interests, including architecture, music, and science. He also founded the University of Virginia, which opened in 1825.
Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. His contributions to the United States and his advocacy for liberty and democracy have made him one of the most revered figures in American history.
It's important to note that Jefferson's legacy is complex and includes significant contradictions. While he championed liberty and equality, he was also a slaveholder who owned over 600 enslaved people throughout his life. These contradictions between his beliefs and actions have been the subject of ongoing scholarly debate.
See also: [[slavery]], [[The Enlightenment]]