|3rd President of the United States|
From: March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1809
|Vice President||Aaron Burr|
|2nd Vice President of the United States|
From: March 4, 1797 – March 4, 1801
|2nd Governor of Virginia|
From: June 1, 1779 – June 3, 1781
|Former United States Ambassador to France|
From: May 17, 1785 – September 26, 1789
|1st United States Secretary of State|
From: March 22, 1790 – December 31, 1793
|Predecessor||John Jay (Acting)|
|Spouse(s)||Martha Wayles Skelton|
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was the third president of the United States, from 1801 to 1809. He was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence of 1776. Jefferson was also the first secretary of state (1789-1793), and founded the Jeffersonian Republicans in 1792. This party dominated U.S. politics for many years. Jefferson and the Republicans are closely associated with the view that the size and powers of the federal government should be strictly limited.
Jefferson was a friend of France and the French Revolution, but a bitter enemy of Britain. He was deeply disappointed when Napoleon ended the French Republic and declared himself emperor in 1804. As president, Jefferson purchased the vast Louisiana Territory in 1803, but he was generally ineffective. During the Napoleonic Wars, both Britain and France violated American neutrality and attacked U.S. shipping. Jefferson responded by signing the Embargo of 1807. The embargo led to economic problems in the United States and was unpopular. It also failed in its purpose of forcing the British to repeal their "Orders in Council" and respect American neutrality. Just before Jefferson left office, the embargo was repealed and replaced with the Non-Intercourse Act. As Jefferson was not willing to submit to the Orders in Council, the failure of the embargo made war with Britain the logical next step. However, Federalist gains in the 1808 election suggested that public opinion was not yet ready for this move.
James Madison, Jefferson's handpicked successor as president, was a loyal follower. After his retirement to Monticello in 1809, Jefferson wrote numerous letters and continued to play a major role in policymaking. Although Jefferson had long pressed for war with Britain, he had neglected the military. When Congress finally declared war in 1812, the country was tragically unprepared.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Jefferson was the South's favorite Founding Father, while northerners preferred Alexander Hamilton. President Franklin Roosevelt did to much to promote the memory of Jefferson, and it now eclipses that of Hamilton. This is ironic since Roosevelt's bloated New Deal regime is hard to reconcile with Jefferson's vision of a minimal federal government. Although Jefferson's party dissolved in 1825, the modern Democratic Party claims Jefferson as its founder. In 1998, DNA testing confirmed an old accusation that Jefferson had fathered children by Sally Hemings, one of his slaves. Jefferson was bankrupt when he died, so he was not able to free Hemings or most of his other slaves. However, he did free all six of the children he had with Hemings.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Early career
- 3 Congress
- 4 Reforming Virginia
- 5 Confederation Congress
- 6 Minister to France
- 7 1790s
- 8 President: Successful first term, 1801-1805
- 9 President: Troubled second term, 1805-1809
- 10 Retirement
- 11 Image and memory
- 12 Jefferson's views
- 13 Quotes
- 14 Fake quotes
- 15 Jefferson - Jackson Dinners
- 16 See also
- 17 Further reading
- 18 References
- 19 External links
Jefferson was the third child born to a well-connected tobacco planter family of moderate wealth in Goochland County on Virginia's western frontier. His father, Peter Jefferson (1707–57), of Welsh descent, owned slaves and was a county magistrate who was elected to the House of Burgesses (the colonial legislature). His mother, Jane Randolph, belonged to the leading family in the British colony. Peter taught the boy farming; they hunted and fished together. His formal education began under two Anglican ministers. He became proficient in Latin and Greek and had later became proficient in French. He was also tutored in dancing, became polished on the violin, learned chess, avoided cards, and was a fearless and accomplished horseman. His father died in 1757 when Jefferson was at the age of 14, leaving him an inheritance of some slaves and 2,750 acres of undeveloped farmland.
Jefferson was well educated at William and Mary College (class of 1762), and studied law. He was a polymath who read voraciously in history, politics, philosophy, linguistics, architecture and natural science. He studied science with Dr. William Small, who introduce him to Gov. Francis Fauquier and to George Wythe, the leading legal expert of the day in Virginia, who directed Jefferson's reading in law. He was a well-disciplined student who ignored the gambling and horse-racing of his peers to immerse himself in science law and history. He lost his Anglican religion along the way. He mastered the common law treatises of Sir Edward Coke, and was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1767. He was successful but did not enjoy the tasks and gave up his practice by 1774. However the lawyerly style reappears in his famous state papers where he acts the advocate pleading a cause and buttressing it with precedents. Jefferson was never a good speaker, but he excelled in learning and industry and in precision and clarity of writing. His written arguments are powerful, but his "Declaration of Independence" remains the touchstone for powerful argumentation.
Jefferson had absorbed both the latest ideas of the Enlightenment and the precepts of republicanism as taught by the pamphlets of the British "country party", which had long been out of power. Jefferson became committed to the ancient rights of Englishmen possessed by Virginians; he was outraged that parliament would threaten those rights.
As the storms of the 1770s broke young Jefferson had never fully exercised his powerful intellect or fluent pen; he was known as a promising lawyer in a land of great lawyers, a successful planter in a slave society, and a lover of books, science, and music in a land of horse-racing. He was a loyal subject of King George III. From 1768 to 1775 Jefferson was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses for Albemarle.
In 1773, following the lead of Massachusetts, Jefferson helped establish Virginia's Provincial Committee of Correspondence to keep in touch with the other 12 colonies and operate as a shadow government in defiance of the governor. In 1774 he drew up resolutions that were published by the first Virginia convention as "A Summary View of the Rights of British America." This pamphlet, issued in four editions that year, argued that Parliament had no right to legislate for the colonies and that the British Empire was bound together solely by allegiance to the king. It proved one of the most influential statements of the patriot position and was widely read.
In 1775 Jefferson was elected to the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia. He drafted the resolution rejecting the conciliatory proposals of the British minister, Lord North. He was appointed county lieutenant in September and did not return to Congress until May 1776. He drafted a proposed constitution for the state of Virginia which was adopted in part.
Declaration of Independence
As a delegate to the Continental Congress he and John Adams of Massachusetts took the lead in pushing for independence. On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee of the Virginia delegation proposed independence. Congress appointed a committee of five men to draw up a suitable public declaration. Jefferson was selected to write it because he was a Virginian, a recognized writer, and a zealous committeeman. He incorporated ideas and phrases from many sources to arrive at a consensus statement that all patriots could agree upon. His colleagues Benjamin Franklin and Adams made small changes in his draft text and Congress made more. The finished document, which both declared independence and proclaimed a philosophy of government, was singly and peculiarly Jefferson's.
- That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
Jefferson rewrote it:
- We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
Jefferson himself did not believe in absolute human equality, and, though he had no fears of revolution, he preferred that the "social compact" be renewed by periodical, peaceful revisions. That government should be based on popular consent and secure the "inalienable" rights of man, among which he included the pursuit of happiness rather than property, that it should be a means to human well-being and not an end in itself, he steadfastly believed. He gave here a matchless expression of his faith.
The charges against King George III, who is singled out because the patriots denied all claims of parliamentary authority, represent an improved version of charges that Jefferson wrote for the preamble of the Virginia constitution of 1776. Relentless in their reiteration, they constitute a statement of the specific grievances of the revolting party, powerfully and persuasively presented at the bar of public opinion.
The Declaration is notable for both its clarity and subtlety of expression, and it abounds in the felicities that are characteristic of Jefferson's best prose. More impassioned than any other of his writings, it is eloquent in its sustained elevation of style and remains his noblest literary monument.
The concepts of Natural Law, of inviolable rights, and of government by consent were drawn from the republican tradition that stretched back to ancient Rome and was neither new nor distinctively American. However it was unprecedented for a nation to declare that it would be governed by these propositions. It was Jefferson's almost religious commitment to these republican propositions that is the key to his entire life. He was more than the author of this statement of the national purpose: he was a living example of its philosophy, accepting its ideals as the controlling principles of his own life. Congress adopted the Declaration on July 4, 1776, which became the birthday of the independent nation.
When the Declaration was signed, all British forces had been driven out of the 13 colonies, which now became the 13 states. However King George III refused to give up and of "his" possessions, so the war dragged on until the final American victory at Yorktown in 1781 caused Parliament to change the government in London and sue for peace.
The Declaration immediately sparked serious discussion in Europe and Latin America about the legitimacy of empires. By the 21st century, over 100 countries had their own declarations of independence, modeled in part on the very first one by Jefferson in 1776.
Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom
- Main Article: Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom
The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was written by Thomas Jefferson in 1777, introduced in the Virginia General Assembly in 1779, and on January 16, 1786 enacted into state law through the assistance of James Madison. The legislation is one of only three accomplishments Jefferson instructed be included in his epitaph. It is often claimed that Jefferson was not Christian but a Deist and that his use of the term "Nature's God" in the Declaration of Independence was to a vague concept of a designer or even nature itself. However, such arguments do not mention Jefferson's Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, perhaps because (1) such critics aren't aware of it, or (2) the document very clearly shows Jefferson's beliefs were more refined:
|“|| An Act for establishing religious Freedom. Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free;
That all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and therefore are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do
Jefferson's autobiography provides more insight on the Virginia Statute. Jefferson stated,
|“||Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it's protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.||”|
In September 1776 Jefferson left the national capital in Philadelphia and spent the rest of the war in Virginia, where he took control of the legislature and had a significant impact in shaping the laws of the new state. In the House of Delegates he proposed a series of major reforms—almost unparalleled in scope and unequaled as the work of a single legislator. Of 126 bills he proposed, four-fifths were enacted in some form; and Jefferson drew up almost half the total. In 1779 he proposed "The Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom," which was adopted in 1786. Its goal was complete separation of church and state and declared the opinions of men to be beyond the jurisdiction of the civil magistrate. He asserted that the mind is not subject to coercion, that civil rights have no dependence on religious opinions, and that the opinions of men are not the concern of civil government, became one of the American charters of freedom. This elevated declaration of the freedom of the mind was hailed in Europe as "an example of legislative wisdom and liberality never before known."
Jefferson put forth numerous proposals to reform public education, but they failed at this time. He did manage to abolish the professorships of Hebrew, theology, and ancient languages at the College of William and Mary, and instead set up professorships of anatomy and medicine, law, and modern languages, the two latter being the first of their kind in America. His proposals to gradually end slavery were not reported out of committee.
His laws on inheritance ended the practice of primogeniture, whereby the eldest son inherited the entire estate, so as to spread out wealth more evenly and open up opportunities for more young men.
In 1779 he was elected to succeed Patrick Henry as governor of Virginia for a one-year term. Everything went wrong. British invasions by land and sea, Indian raids in the west, fiscal shortfalls, militia problems, profiteering, personal rivalries, and the shift of the main theater of war to Virginia created more challenges than he could solve. Re-elected in 1780, he saw the main British army under Cornwallis enter from the South in 1781; the Continental Army commander, General Von Steuben, was outmaneuvered. Jefferson quit office before his successor was named and the legislature had fled; he was almost captured when the British raided Monticello looking for him. Fortunately Washington arrived with the American and French armies and trapped Cornwallis at Yorktown, where the entire British army surrendered. Later the legislature investigated his administration and vindicated him, but Jefferson was embarrassed. Jefferson was an efficient, systematic, indefatigable administrator with a knack for getting men to work together smoothly, but his militia could not match the British army. He coped with these problems with a degree of success or failure that remains controversial among scholars.
He suffered an irreparable loss when his beloved wife Martha died in 1782 and he gave up all idea of ever marrying again; they had three surviving daughters—Martha (1772–1836), Mary (1778–1804), and Lucy (1782–1784).
Notes on the State of Virginia
For a more detailed treatment, see Notes on the State of Virginia.
In 1780-83, Jefferson wrote his only book, Notes on the State of Virginia. It was written in the form of answers to questions about the geography, natural resources, Indians, government and economy of Virginia, based on his own research. The book was first published in French in Paris in 1785 (and in English in 1787), and immediately Jefferson's scientific reputation in Europe, while debunking some outlandish theories, especially those of the eminent naturalist the Comte de Buffon, to the effect that animals regressed to smaller size in the new world. Jefferson's coup came with the mammoth, the giant extinct animal, five times bigger than an elephant, whose tusks, grinders, and bones had been recently dug up in the western part of the state.
In 1783 Jefferson returned to Congress, became its leader, and launched another intensive legislative effort. His major achievement was conceptualizing a solution for territorial government in the land north of the Ohio River. Virginia ceded its land claims to the national government, Jefferson proposed a checkerboard system of land surveys, which avoided the terrible confusion that caused endless lawsuits over land ownership south of the river. One section in every sixteen was set aside to support public schools. Statehood was promised once a territory reached a certain population. Jefferson would not allow slavery in the territories. Many of Jefferson's ideas were passed into law after he left Congress, notably in the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.
Jefferson's report on coinage established the decimal dollar as the unit of money, though he failed then and later to secure a system of uniform weights and measures based on decimal notation.
Minister to France
Jefferson returned from France in 1789 and became the first Secretary of State (1789-1793) in the cabinet of President George Washington. With his close ally James Madison (a member of the House) Jefferson opposed the Hamiltonian programs for national finance, especially assumption of state wartime debts and the First National Bank. Jefferson and Madison and created a new party, the Republicans, to oppose Hamilton's Federalist party. These were the first two modern political parties in the world (that is the first to reach out to the voters for support). Jefferson and his Republicans supported the French Revolution (from 1793 to 1800), while the Federalists favored Britain. According to authors Ann Coulter, Christopher Ferrara, and Conor Cruise O'Brien, Jefferson supported the excesses for the French Revolution and to a certain extent the September Massacres and the execution of King Louis XVI that he even wrote to William Short the Adam and Eve Letter that made clear that he was willing to allow for all but two people of each country to be exterminated in the name of liberty, just a couple of weeks before King Louis XVI was killed. and inferred that faith in the French Revolution had been his "polar star." President Washington managed to maintain neutrality in the war between Britain and France. Hamilton had more influence than Jefferson, even in foreign policy, as shown by Hamilton's success in securing the Jay Treaty of 1795 that opened ten years of friendly trade with Britain. Similarly, in 1787, Jefferson in a letter to William M. Smith, Jefferson stated there should be a revolution or rebellion every two decades, the same letter where he mentioned the blood of patriots and tyrants are needed to water the tree of liberty.
Jefferson was defeated for president in the election of 1796 by John Adams, but became vice president. When the Quasi War (that is undeclared war) with France broke out in 1798 and Federalists passed the Alien and Sedition laws, Jefferson and Madison protested by secretly writing the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798. They argued the right of state governments to nullify federal laws considered unconstitutional; this was the start of the States Rights theory that played a role in the coming of the American Civil War in 1861 and still plays a role in Constitutional debates.
President: Successful first term, 1801-1805
Jefferson defeated Adams and was elected president in 1800, in what his supporters called the Revolution of 1800. In his first term Jefferson negotiated the Louisiana Purchase with France. then sent Lewis and Clark to explore the vast new lands. He set up a territorial system for the Louisiana purchase. He promoted reservations for Indians to settle them on fixed parcels of land and teach them farming (instead of hunting and raiding).
Jefferson removed many Federalist office holders in order to balance the civil service between parties. Bitterly opposed to strong judges, he had Congress abolish the lower courts the Federalists had created, and tried to impeach and remove two Federalist judges. He succeeded in removing one incompetent figure but was defeated when he tried to remove Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase. Jefferson never dared attack Chief Justice John Marshall, a Federalist who made the Supreme Court a bastion of nationalism, much to Jefferson's disgust.
President: Troubled second term, 1805-1809
Jefferson's second term was marked by escalating tensions with both Britain and France (which were at war with each other). Jefferson's use of economic warfare, especially the Embargo of 1807, failed, as he tried to crack down on New England merchants who defied laws that restricted their trade. Jefferson opposed building up the army or navy, insisting that the militia would suffice, aided by small gunboats.
Most historians judge his military policies a major disaster. Neither the militia nor the gunboat proved to be of much use in the War of 1812 with Britain. This war began three years after Jefferson left office. Jefferson left the White House under a cloud and never ran for office again. The country was drifting toward war with Britain, but it remained woefully unprepared for such a war.
In political retirement Jefferson helped create and design the University of Virginia, which he considered a major accomplishment. He believed that republican government depends on an informed citizenry; that education is a duty of the state; and that, while all should be given learning sufficient to enable them to understand their rights and duties as citizens, the "natural aristocracy" of virtue and talent should be drawn forth from the general mass and given every opportunity of public education. He continued through life to advocate this philosophy of education, and explained in detail his belief of what education should accomplish:
- To give to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business.
- To enable him to calculate for himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his contracts and accounts in writing;
- To improve, by reading, his morals and faculties;
- To understand his duties to his neighbors and country, and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by either;
- To know his rights; to exercise with order and justice those he retains, to choose with discretion the fiduciary of those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence, with candor and judgment;
- And in general, to observe with intelligence and faithfulness all the social relations under which he shall be placed.
Jefferson died on July 4, Independence Day, in 1826. It was the same day as the death of John Adams. They had been close friends until the political wars of the 1790s drove them apart, then resumed their friendship with a brilliant correspondence.
Image and memory
In the view of modern historians, Jefferson's party died out in the mid-1820s. Today's Democratic Party was founded in 1832 by Andrew Jackson. Jefferson's party is variously called Republican (the name Jefferson used), Democratic (used in New York and other states), or Democratic-Republican. This has led to a great deal of confusion. In the 1930s, Franklin Roosevelt built the Jefferson Memorial, emphasized Jefferson's supposed status as founder of the Democratic Party, and did much to promote the memory of Jefferson. Democratic states organization have held "Jefferson-Jackson Dinners" since 1945. Jefferson has also been commemorated in the names of many counties and schools. Conservative commentator George Will has called Jefferson the "Man of the Millennium"—that is the most influential person in world history over the last 1000 years. In 2015, Democrats in various states announced that the Jefferson-Jackson Dinners would be renamed, partly because Jefferson's status as a slaveholder now embarrasses the party.
Lost in Jefferson's visible stature of statesmanship, authoring the Declaration, and other accomplishments such as his presidency, are Jefferson's love of music, wine, and the arts. Jefferson's favorite wines were produced by the Scuppernong variety, and he is known to have grown Scuppernong as well as Muscadine grapes in his vineyards at Monticello.
Thomas Jefferson was an accomplished violinist, and he enjoyed music from composers Carl Friedrich Abel and George Frideric Handel. He had a deep fondness for the works of Antonio Vivaldi, and his favorite composer was Arcangelo Corelli. It is believed that Jefferson owned among his many violins, one created by the well known instrument maker Nicola Amati.
In philosophy, Jefferson was most influenced by three people: Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton, and John Locke. Jefferson referred to these three men as "my trinity of the three greatest men the world had ever produced".
In Notes on the State of Virginia (1785) Jefferson deplored the despotic, lawless treatment of slaves, suggesting that the only remedy was to emancipate and remove Virginia's slaves and then declare them a free and independent people. Colonization to an unspecified destination was necessary because racial co-existence was impossible; emancipation otherwise would produce "convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of one or the other race." Differences between the two races were "fixed in nature", he said:
- "Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior...and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous."
Jefferson believed that, eventually, all Americans had to be free. His goals for unlimited national improvement were incompatible with slaves in America. Both slavery and the slave trade would have to be ended in favor of free commerce and free labor. The key word for Jefferson was "amelioration," and it included several stages of national and moral development. First, Americans would abolish the slave trade. "Citizens," President Jefferson declared in 1806, should "withdraw . . . from all further participation in those violations of human rights which have been so long continued on the unoffending inhabitants of Africa" to promote "the morality, the reputation, and the best interests of our country." Second, the owners should raise up the moral and intellectual levels of their slaves. As masters established ties of reciprocal obligation and sympathy with their slaves, they would prepare themselves—and their slaves for the emancipation and repatriation of all Africans back to Africa. He in fact did secure the abolition by Congress of the international slave trade in 1808. He owned slaves—some 200 at one time or another—but despite his theoretical opposition to slavery he was always so much in debt he could never free them.
In his Memoirs, Jefferson wrote that Congress struck out his clause of the first draft of the Declaration of Independence which dealt directly with slavery, because of "complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia", who did not make any attempts whatsoever to restrain the importation of slaves like the other colonies did.
Over the years, claims of hypocrisy have been thrown Jefferson's way over the issue of slavery, but none other than President John Quincy Adams pointed out the logical consistency of Jefferson's views.(Quincy Adams was a lifelong, die-hard abolitionist.) Adams said:
The inconsistency of the institution of domestic slavery with the principles of the Declaration of Independence was seen and lamented by all the southern patriots of the Revolution; by no one with deeper and more unalterable conviction than by the author of the Declaration himself. No charge of insincerity or hypocrisy can be fairly laid to their charge. Never from their lips was heard one syllable of attempt to justify the institution of slavery. They universally considered it as a reproach fastened upon them by the unnatural step-mother country and they saw that before the principles of the Declaration of Independence, slavery, in common with every other mode of oppression, was destined sooner or later to be banished from the earth. Such was the undoubting conviction of Jefferson to his dying day. In the Memoir of His Life, written at the age of seventy-seven, he gave to his countrymen the solemn and emphatic warning that the day was not distant when they must hear and adopt the general emancipation of their slaves.
Helo and Onuf (2003) have explored the logic of Jefferson's philosophical position against slavery in light of his ownership of slaves and his belief that the wholesale and immediate emancipation of slaves would threaten the new Republic. Heavily influenced by the writings of political philosophers Charles de Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui, and especially Lord Kames, Jefferson grounded his position regarding slavery on the Kamesian principle that man was capable of moral development and, consequently, moral codes varied among different nations and progressed (or retrograded) over time in each nation. Kames posited that moral progress in a society, however, required a government. These concepts and others helped Jefferson shape his arguments in the Declaration of Independence, as rationale for the American Revolution. Moreover, they were the basis for his belief that slaves should be freed only when they could be assured of having their own government and a means, thereby, of self-determination as well as practical and moral education. Jefferson was convinced that emancipation on a large scale, before Virginia slaveholders and American society as a whole advanced morally, would precipitate racial violence and put the American experiment at risk.
Jefferson was a regular church goer and a lifelong Christian. His unique theology was his own creation and combined elements of deism and Unitarianism. "I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know," he wrote to a friend.
Jefferson was raised in the Church of England at a time when it was the established church in Virginia and never formally left the Episcopal Church, and attended church regularly near the end of his life. Despite that, at least one historian claims that Jefferson was merely a deist. Conservative scholars such as David Barton point out how Jefferson was a pious orthodox Christian. Some other Christians have criticized Barton's writings on Jefferson, and liberal publishing houses, such as Oxford University Press, University of Virginia Press, and Yale University Press, typically deny or downplay Jefferson's Christian beliefs.
Jefferson vehemently attacked Christianity, accusing the Christian God of being a "terrific character - cruel, vindictive, capricious, and unjust." Although some have claimed that Jefferson was merely citing the view of God that Jesus had criticized during his time. He called Christianity "the most perverted system that ever shone on man" and said that he did "not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature." Christianity, according to Jefferson, was merely another religion "founded on fable and superstition." Jefferson argued that in the gospels, "we discover a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstition, fanaticism and fabrication." He denied the historicity and authenticity of the Scriptures, saying that "the authors of the gospels were unlettered and ignorant men and the teachings of Jesus have come to us mutilated, misstated and unintelligible." Of the Apostles, Jefferson had a particular hatred for Paul, the author of most of the Books contained in the New Testament. "Of this band of dupes and impostors [the apostles], Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and firm corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus."
Jefferson did not believe the words of Jesus or any other part of the Bible to be divinely inspired, but he considered Jesus a great moral teacher who created "the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man." Believing that the doctrines of the historical Jesus had been greatly corrupted by ignorant and superstitious "pseudo-followers," Jefferson used a razor and a paste to assemble passages from the Synoptic Gospels into a new book commonly called the Jefferson Bible, omitting references to divinity and miracles. However, he did not necessarily agree with everything that remained, writing, "I read [Jesus's doctrines] as I do those of other antient and modern moralists, with a mixture of approbation and dissent."
In an 1803 letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Jefferson declared that "I am a Christian," though his view of Christianity was different from most:
I then promised you that one day or other I would give you my views of [the Christian religion]. They are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed, but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself. I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others, ascribing to himself every human excellence, and believing he never claimed any other.
He worked tirelessly to create a "wall of separation" between church and state, fearing that unifying the two would create tyranny over the free minds of people. He had a very negative view of the Roman Catholic Church, and succeeded in disestablishing the Anglican Church of England in Virginia during the Revolution.
Jefferson often made references to God and providence. In one of his writings now inscribed on the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., Jefferson said:
God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.Jefferson's Second Inaugural Address implied that he believed in divine intervention:
"I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our forefathers, as Israel of old."
Jefferson was also greatly interested in Eastern religions and Islam. In fact, in 2007, Representative Keith Ellison (the first Muslim elected to Congress) was sworn in on Jefferson's copy of the Koran.
We took the liberty to make some enquiries concerning the ground of their pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation.
The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their prophet; that it was written in their Koran; that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners; that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; and that every Mussulman who was slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.
The Right to Bear Arms
"In a nation governed by the people themselves, the possession of arms to defend their nation against usurpers within and without was deemed absolutely necessary. This right is protected by the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. A gun was an everyday implement in early American society, and Jefferson recommended its use." 
"A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun, therefore, be the constant companion of your walks." --Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, 1785. ME 5:85, Papers 8:407
"The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that... it is their right and duty to be at all times armed." --Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824. ME 16:45
"One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them." --Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, 1796. ME 9:341
"No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms." -- Thomas Jefferson when drafting the Virginia Constitution. The text does not appear in the Virginia Constitution as adopted.
Jefferson was the founder of the University of Virginia and designer of his "academical village"; he made the drawings for The Rotunda in 1819. Self-taught in architecture, read widely and studied the great structures of Europe firsthand. He assisted Pierre L'Enfant in the design and layout of the new Federal City (Washington, D.C.) and designed the state capitol building in Richmond. Jefferson believed that "from architecture would flow education in taste, values, and ideals," and therefore constructed buildings that became ideas for America.
Jefferson believed that architecture was the heart of the American cause. In his mind, a building was not merely a walled structure, but a metaphor for American ideology, and the process of construction was equal to the task of building a nation. The architecture of any American building should express the American desire to break cultural--as well as political--ties to Europe. American architecture, Jefferson believed, would embody the fulfillment of the civic life of Americans, and he sought to establish the standards of a national architecture, both aesthetically and politically.
Thomas Jefferson was among the many people who submitted a plan for the White House. His design, however, was not chosen. Instead, James Hoban, an Irish immigrant architect living in Charleston, South Carolina, won the competition and a $500 prize, with a design modeled after Leister House in Dublin, Ireland.
"Whenever it is proposed to prepare plans for the Capitol, I should prefer the adoption of some one of the models of antiquity which have had the approbation of thousands of years; and for the President's house I should prefer the celebrated fronts of modern buildings which have already received the approbation of all good judges. Such are the Galerie du Louvre, the Garde Meubles; and two fronts of the Hotel de Salm." T. Jefferson.
- "An elective despotism was not the government we fought for."
- "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a monied aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. The issuing power (of money) should be taken away from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs."
- Speaking of great calamities, "There is yet one greater, submission to a government of unlimited powers." 
- "That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves." 
- "Government big enough to give you everything you need is government big enough to take away everything you have."
- In a letter to Philips Mazzei, "Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty." 
- "Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils of misgovernment." 
- "The pusillanimous idea that we had friends in England worth keeping terms with, still haunted the minds of many. For this reason, those passages which conveyed censures on the people of England were struck out, lest they should give them offence. The clause too, reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of Africa, was struck out in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who, on the contrary, still wished to continue it. Our northern brethren also, I believe, felt a little tender under those censures; for though their people had very few slaves themselves, yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others."
Let me describe to you a man, not yet forty, tall, and with a mild and pleasing countenance. An American, who without ever having quitted his own country, is at once a musician, skilled in drawing, a geometrician, an astronomer, a natural philosopher, legislator, and statesman…. Sometimes natural philosophy, at others politics or the arts, were the topics of our conversation, for no object had escaped Mr. Jefferson; and it seemed as if from his youth he had placed his mind, as he has done his house, on an elevated situation, from which he might contemplate the universe.
- Description of a visit to Thomas Jefferson at Monticello in 1782, from Travels in North-America, in the Years 1780-81-82 by the Marquis de Chastellux.
- "Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must more approve the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear."  Though this quotation promotes the challenging of God, it is not necessarily an argument for atheism; Jefferson believed in a non-Christian God.
- "Our business is to march straight forward to the object which has occupied us for eight and twenty years, without either turning to the right or left."
- "All the powers of government, legislative, executive, and judiciary, result to the legislative body. The concentrating these in the same hands is precisely the definition of despotic government. It will be no alleviation that these powers will be exercised by a plurality of hands, and not by a single one. 173 despots would surely be as oppressive as one."
- "In our village of Charlottesville, there is a good degree of religion, with a small spice only of fanaticism. We have four sects, but without either church or meeting-house. The court-house is the common temple, one Sunday in the month to each. Here, Episcopalian and Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist, meet together, join in hymning their Maker, listen with attention and devotion to each others' preachers, and all mix in society with perfect harmony." - Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Thomas Cooper, November 2, 1822
- "Every Constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of nineteen years. If it be enforced longer it is an act of force and not of right." - Letter to James Madison, 1789
- "Can one generation bind another, and all others, in succession for ever? I think not. the Creator has made the earth for the living, not the dead. rights and powers can only belong to persons, not to things, not to mere matter, unendowed with will. the dead are not even things. the particles of matter which composed their bodies, make part now of the bodies of other animals, vegetables, or minerals of a thousand forms. to what then are attached the rights and power they held while in the form of men? a generation may bind itself, as long as it’s majority continues in life; when that has disappeared, another majority is in place, holds all the rights and powers their predecessors once held and may change their laws and institutions to suit themselves. nothing then is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man." Letter to John Cartwright, June 5, 1824
- "When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become corrupt as in Europe."
Many false quotations have been attributed to Jefferson.
- Jefferson did NOT say, “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine”.
- Jefferson did write in 1787: "Societies exist under [...] governments of force: as is the case in all other monarchies and in most of the other republics. To have an idea of the curse of existence under these last, they must be seen. It is a government of wolves over sheep."
- In the 1960s leftwing activists invented another false quote: "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism".
- Jefferson did write in 1787: "I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical."
- Jefferson did not like banks. He did NOT say, "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered."
- Jefferson did say in 1816: "And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale."
- Jefferson did NOT say, "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." He rarely used the word "democracy".
- Jefferson did say: "To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, —the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it." 
- A common misquote incorrectly attributed to Jefferson is, "Where the people fear the government you have tyranny. Where the government fears the people you have liberty." This was first said by John Basil Barnhill.
- Jefferson did write in 1787: "Some are whigs, liberals, democrats, call them what you please. Others are tories, serviles, aristocrats, &c. The latter fear the people, and wish to transfer all power to the higher classes of society; the former consider the people as the safest depository of power in the last resort; they cherish them therefore, and wish to leave in them all the powers to the exercise of which they are competent."
- "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty" is commonly attributed to Jefferson, but was said by John Philpot Curran
Jefferson - Jackson Dinners
The United States Democratic Party claims Jefferson and Andrew Jackson as two of its key founding members. Although this claim is a bit of a stretch, for decades the Democrats have honored these two presidents by holding fund-raising events called "Jefferson-Jackson Dinners." Recently, in an act of extreme "political correctness", activists have demanded that these events be renamed on the grounds that Jefferson held slaves and Jackson mistreated Native Americans. Many units of the Democratic Party have given into these arguments and are denouncing and dishonoring two of what most Americans view as great Presidents.
- Embargo of 1807, his failed foreign policy
- Republicans (Jeffersonian), the party he led
- First Party System, how politics worked
- Albert Gallatin. his Treasury Secretary
- Jeffersonian Democracy, his political coalition
- James Madison, his Secretary of State
- Banning, Lance. The Jeffersonian Persuasion: Evolution of a Party Ideology (1978) excerpt and text search
- Bernstein, Richard B. Thomas Jefferson (2005) short biography excerpt and text search
- Channing, Edward. The Jeffersonian System, 1801-1811 (1906) full text online* Cunningham, Noble E. Jr . In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson (1988, short biography) excerpt and text search
- Ellis, Joseph J. American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson (1998), interpretive essays excerpt and text search
- Ferling, John. Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800 Oxford University Press, 2004 online edition
- Hofstadter, Richard. The American Political Tradition (1948), chapter on TJ online at ACLS e-books
- Koch, Adrienne. Philosophy of Thomas Jefferson. (1943) online edition
- Onuf, Peter S. The Mind of Thomas Jefferson. (2007). 281 pp.
- Onuf, P. S. "Jefferson, Thomas (1743–1826)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (2004); online edn, May 2008; Onuf is a leading American scholar
- Peterson, Merrill D. The Jefferson Image in the American Mind (1960) excerpt and text search
- Peterson, Merrill D. Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation: A Biography (1986), long, detailed biography by leading scholar; online edition; also excerpt and text search
- Peterson, Merrill D. ed. Thomas Jefferson: A Reference Biography. (1986), very good, encyclopedic essays
- Smelser, Marshall. The Democratic Republic: 1801-1815 (1968) good one-volume history of TJ's presidency and Madison's;
- Jefferson, Thomas. Writings (1984, Library of America); includes Autobiography, Notes on the State of Virginia, Public and Private Papers, Addresses and Letters. 1600pp excerpt and text search
- Jefferson, Thomas. Political Writings, edited by Joyce Appleby and Terence Ball; Cambridge University Press, 1999 online edition
- Jefferson, Thomas. Jeffersonian Cyclopedia 9000 quotes, well arranged online
- Much of the Declaration of Independence was based on George Mason's Virginia Declaration of Rights.
- "distrusted the federal government because he knew it would grow too large, become disconnected from the people, and be heir to the arrogance, insolence and prideful haughtiness that is the lot of the unrestrained ..." Pruden, Winning the war against ‘civility’ - Editorial in the Washington Times
- Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: A Brief Account, Monticello and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation
- Schwabach, Aaron. "Thomas Jefferson, Slavery, and Slaves." Thomas Jefferson Law Review 33, no. 1 (Fall 2010): 1-60. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 16, 2014).
- Thomas Jefferson, Musician, Wall Street Journal
- Thomas Jefferson: Let Freedom Ring!
- Thomas Jefferson: Roots of Religious Freedom
- Merrill D. Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation: A Biography (1975) ch. 1
- What Would Jefferson Do?: A Return to Democracy
- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson & Slavery in Virginia
- See for text
- See "Declaration of Independence"
- See "The Virginia Declaration of Rights," Final Draft,12 June 1776
- See Carl Becker, The Declaration of Independence: A Study in the History of Political Ideas (1922) ch. 5, online edition; Garry Wills, Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration of Independence. (1978); Pauline Maier, American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence. (1997)
- Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation (1975) ch. 2
- Historians discount the influence of previous declarations. David Armitage, The Declaration of Independence: A Global History (2007) excerpt and text search
- Atkinson, Kathleen (2007). "Early Virginians and Religious Freedom for Americans." Virginia Commonwealth University. The World Religions in Richmond Project.
- Virginia Historical Society. "16 January 1786: Statute for Religious Freedom." On This Day: Legislative Moments in Virginia History.
- "Brief Biography of Thomas Jefferson." The Jefferson Monticello.
- Voelker, David J. (1993). "Who is Nature's God?" Hanover Historical Review 1.
- Isaacson, Walter (2004, July 5). "Thomas Jefferson: God of our Fathers." Time Magazine.
- Ries, Linda A. & Stewart, Jane S. "This Venerable Document." Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission.
- Jefferson, Thomas (1821, January 6). "Autobiography."
- Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation (1975) ch. 3
- See text
- See Richard Price to Sylvanus Urban,, July 26, 1786, in Richard Price, The correspondence of Richard Price, (1991) vol. 2, p. 45 online
- Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation (1975) ch. 4
- See for complete text of Notes on the State of Virginia
- Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation (1975) pp 242-52; Thomas O. Jewett, "Thomas Jefferson Paleontologist," Early America Review, Fall 2000 online
- Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation (1975) pp 274-85
- Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation (1975) ch. 6
- The "Adam and Eve" letter, From Thomas Jefferson to William Short
- Notes on a Conversation with George Washington
- Liberty, the God That Failed: Policing the Sacred and Constructing the Myths of the Secular State, from Locke to Obama, p. 196
- Thomas Jefferson and the Impending Schism in the American Civil Religion
- Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation (1975) ch. 7
- Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation (1975) ch. 8.
- Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation (1975) ch. 9
- Emperor of Liberty: Thomas Jefferson's Foreign Policy
- Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation (1975) ch. 10
- Jefferson's secretary of state, James Madison, stated that if economic pressure did not get results, war was inevitable. (Wood, Gordon, Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 (2009), p. 661.)
- Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation (1975) ch. 11
- Niles' Weekly Register, Volume 15
- Out: Jefferson-Jackson dinners. In: Harry Truman and ‘Leadership Blue’, WN, 2015-07-24
- State Fruit: Scuppernong Grape
- Grape of the Week: Scuppernong
- The Vineyards
- Thomas Jefferson: Inquiry History for Daring Delvers
- Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War
- Classical Music Insights: Understanding and Enjoying Great Music
- Thomas Jefferson: A Life
- John Locke (Painting)
- Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia ch 14
- "Sixth Annual Message," December 2, 1806
- Christa Dierksheide, "'The great improvement and civilization of that race': Jefferson and the 'Amelioration' of Slavery, ca. 1770–1826," Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 6#1 Spring 2008, pp. 165-197.
- Memoirs Corespondence and Private Papers of Thomas Jefferson Late, President of the United States: Now First Published the Original Manuscripts
- Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society
- An Oration Delivered Before the Inhabitants of the Town of Newburyport, at Their Request, on the Sixty-first Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1837
- Ari Helo and Peter Onuf, "Jefferson, Morality, and the Problem of Slavery." William and Mary Quarterly 2003 60(3): 583-614. Issn: 0043-5597 Fulltext: History Cooperative
- "Jefferson's Religious Beliefs," Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia
- David L. Holmes, The Faiths of the Founding Fathers.
- Barton, David. The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You've Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson (2012, Thomas Nelson)
- Letter to the Unitarian heretic Joseph Priestly. https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/01-33-02-0336
- Letter to William Short, August 4, 1820
- Letter to William Short, April 13, 1820
- Jefferson, Thomas, April 21, 1803: Letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush
- Qu'ran, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello
- Thomas Jefferson’s Quran
- Thomas Jefferson and John Adams Explain Why Muslims Turn to Terrorism
- Jefferson on Politics & Government: Civil Rights
- Boyd, Julian P., Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, et al, eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950-. 1:344.
- Jefferson and the Politics of Architecture
- Famous Buildings In America
- The White House.
- Thomas Jefferson to L'Enfant, April 10, 1791, in Saul K. Padover, ed., Thomas Jefferson and the National Capital (Washington, D. C.: US Government Printing Office, 1946), 59.
- Notes on the State of Virginia
- The Writings of Thomas Jefferson : 1816-1826. - Page 351 by Thomas Jefferson, Paul Leicester Ford
- Civiliazation's quotes P.240 by Richard Alan Krieger
- Jefferson's second revolution P.147 By Susan Dunn
- Thomas Jefferson, world citizen- Page 71 by Elbert Duncan Thomas
- Boyd, Julian P., Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, et al, eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950-. 33 vols.
- "Jefferson believed in the existence of a Supreme Being who was the creator and sustainer of the universe and the ultimate ground of being, but this was not the triune deity of orthodox Christianity." Monticello.org on Jefferson's religious beliefs.
- The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 4
- Notes on the State of Virginia, p. 123
- Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Thomas Cooper
- The Life and Writings of Thomas Jefferson: Including All of His Important Utterances on Public Questions, Compiled from State Papers and from His Private Correspondence
- From Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 5 June 1824
- Thomas Jefferson to Uriah Forrest, December 31st, 1787
- See the 28 fakes listed at Spurious Quotations
- Jefferson to James Madison, January 30, 1787; Boyd, Julian P., Charles T. Cullen, John Catanzariti, Barbara B. Oberg, et al, eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950-. 11:92-93
- See Spurious Quotations
- Lipscomb, Andrew A. and Albert E. Bergh, eds. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Washington, D.C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association of the United States, 1903-0; 14:446.
- Debate on Socialism, Page 34.
- Southhall, Ashley. "Jefferson-Jackson Dinner Will Be Renamed", New York Times, August 8, 2015. Retrieved on April 19, 2016.
- Frank, John. "Colorado Democrats consider renaming Jefferson Jackson dinner", The Denver Post, November 16, 2015. Retrieved on April 19, 2016.
- Litten, Kevin. "As state Democratic parties rename their Jefferson-Jackson dinners, will Louisiana change 'J-J?'", The Times Picayune, July 23, 2015. Retrieved on April 21, 2016.
- Hitchens, Christopher, "Jefferson's Quran: What the founder really thought about Islam."
- Works by Thomas Jefferson - text and free audio - LibriVox
- Understanding Thomas Jefferson’s Reactions to the Rise of the Jacobins at Journal of the American Revolution