Thomas Jefferson

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Portrait of Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 — July 4, 1826), third president of the United States and principal author of the Declaration of Independence, was born at on his father’s plantation of Shadwell in Albemarle County near Charlottesville. He went on to found the University of Virginia. Part of the university’s grounds — the Rotunda, The Lawn and Academical Village — along with Monticello, Jefferson’s mountaintop estate, are UNESCO World Heritage sites. His influence can be seen throughout Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Colloquially referred to as "TJ."

Birthday celebrations

University of Virginia - Founder's Day

Thomas Jefferson's birthday, April 13th, has been celebrated at the University of Virginia since the University's first academic session. The university's first classes met on March 7, 1825.

City of Charlottesville - local holiday removal

On July 1, 2020, the Charlottesville City Council voted 4:1 to officially remove Thomas Jefferson's birthday as a local holiday.[1] The replacement of Jefferson’s birthday with Freedom and Liberation Day, a change Mayor Nikuyah Walker proposed in early June, is part of a larger effort to recontextualize history in Charlottesville and Albemarle.

National Thomas Jefferson Day

Each year on April 13th honors the birth of the third President of The United States, Thomas Jefferson, who was born on April 13, 1743. A joint resolution approved on August 16, 1937, authorized the President of the United States to proclaim April 13 as "Thomas Jefferson's Birthday" each year.

  • On March 21, 1938 Presidential Proclamation 2276 issued by Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Now, Therefore, I, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon officials of the Government to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on April 13, 1938, and on April 13 of each succeeding year, and do invite the people of the United States to observe the day in schools, churches, and other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies in commemoration of the birth of Thomas Jefferson.
  • President George W. Bush issued proclamation 8124 on April 11, 2007, stating that "... on Thomas Jefferson Day, we commemorate the birthday of a monumental figure whose place in our Nation’s history will always be cherished".

Brief Bio

Thomas was born in 1743, married in 1771 Martha, daughter of John Wayles, of Charles City, and widow of Bathurst Skelton, and died July 4, 1826. He had two daughters, Martha, the wife of Governor Thomas Mann Randolph, and Mary, the wife of John W. Eppes. He was one of the largest landholders in the county, being assessed in 1820 with four thousand eight hundred and ninety-nine acres. Soon after attaining his majority, he was appointed a magistrate of the county.

Military service

Jefferson was a colonel in the Virginia Militia at the start of the Revolutionary War, serving from 1770 to 1779. In 1775, he moved up to commander of the Albemarle County Militia, near what later would be his home at Monticello.


TJ designed both Monticello and the University of Virginia which both appear on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organizations World Heritage List. Jefferson returned often to Monticello, “Little Mountain,” his home from 1770 until his death in 1826. Thomas Jefferson is buried at Monticello, about 2 miles southeast of City of Charlottesville.


Thomas Jefferson's presidency initiated the quarter-century rule of the "Virginia Dynasty" (1801–1825) in which four of the first five presidents were from Virginia - including the loyal Jeffersonian Republican Party James Madison (1809–1817) and James Monroe (1817–1825). The first Virginia president, George Washington (1789–1797), is the only United States president who did not represent a political party. As U.S. President, Jefferson champion of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806), including the selection of Meriwether Lewis.

Dr. Charles Everett served as a physician to Jefferson as well as the future presidents Madison and Monroe.

University of Virginia

Father of the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson was the first and only President of the United States to found an institution of higher learning.


TJ's father, Peter Jefferson, was a self-educated surveyor who amassed a large estate that included 60 slaves. His mother, Jane Randolph Jefferson, was descended from one of the most prominent families in Virginia. She raised two sons, of whom Jefferson was the eldest, and six daughters.[2]

Brief timeline

  • April 13, (April 2, 1743, Old Style) 1743: Born at on his father’s plantation of Shadwell located along the Rivanna River in the Piedmont region of central Virginia at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Thomas Jefferson was the third child and first son of Peter Jefferson and Jane (née Randolph).
  • August 9, 1762: TJ's cousin, Mary Randolph was born to Thomas Mann and Ann Cary Randolph of Tuckahoe. Mary counted among her cousins, Mary Lee Fitzhugh, the wife of George Washington Parke Custis who was the stepgrandson of George Washington and David Meade Randolph, whom she married. Mary would remain in close contact with Jefferson's family - her brother Thomas Mann Randolph, Governor of Virginia (1819-1821), married Martha Jefferson, daughter of Thomas Jefferson. Mary's husband, David Randolph was a Federalist and an open critic of his second cousin Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party, also referred to as the Jeffersonian Republican Party.
  • August 17, 1757: His father, Peter Jefferson, died (aged 49). TJ boarded with the local schoolmaster to learn Latin and Greek.
  • 1760: Entered the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg.
  • 1762: TJ began reading law with George Wythe, the leading legal scholar in Virginia.
  • 1765: As a student, Thomas Jefferson attended the House of Burgesses when he witnessed Patrick Henry's defiant stand against the Stamp Act.
  • 1767: TJ left Williamsburg.
  • 1768: He started building his own home atop an 867-foot-high mountain near Shadwell that he eventually named Monticello and stood as a candidate for the House of Burgesses.
  • 1769: He gained the Virginia bar and began practice, mostly representing small-scale planters from the western counties in cases involving land claims and titles.
  • 1769: Elected to the House of Burgesses. It was there that his involvement in revolutionary politics began.
  • 1771: Became a stockholder in the newly-created Albemarle Furnace Company, making an initial investment of £100 sterling.
  • April 21, 1779: Signed the Albemarle County Declaration of Independence.
  • June 1, 1779: Elected Governor of Virginia by the legislature, Jefferson was 36 years old.[3]
  • April 1, 1801: President Thomas Jefferson appointed Meriwether Lewis as Secretary to the President, whom he knew through Virginia society in Albemarle County.
  • June 4, 1885: Thomas Jefferson’s tombstone, given by the Jefferson heirs to the University of Missouri, the first state university founded in the Louisiana Purchase Territory, was first dedicated at Mizzou this Sunday afternoon.


Although Jefferson is buried at Monticello, Jefferson’s heirs ordered a replica be placed at Monticello and donated the original three-part structure to the University of Missouri in 1883. Jefferson's original tombstone is located in Columbia, Missouri. Near the end of his life, probably when he prepared and signed his final will in March 1826, Thomas Jefferson designed his own gravestone and prepared the text to be engraved on it. Here was buried Thomas Jefferson Author of the Declaration of American Independence Of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom & Father of the University of Virginia.


Many local streets, businesses and organizations are named in his honor.


United States

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson on the United States two-dollar bill ($2)

Jeffersonville, Indiana

Laid out in 1802, after a plan for an “ideal city” by Thomas Jefferson, Jeffersonville’s main street includes a variety of architectural styles, with Italianite the most prevalent. Also, Jeffersonville was once a hub of the Union Army. Old Jeffersonville Historic District was placed on the National Register in 1983, the district is bound by Court and Graham Streets, the Ohio River and Route 65.[4]
Down river, Less than two miles, is Clarksville, IN and the George Rogers Clark home site (1803-1809). Located at the lower end of the Falls of The Ohio, Clark built a cabin in 1803 on a rocky point above the fall that now overlooks Corn Island and Louisville, which he founded in 1778. It was George Rogers Clark whom Thomas Jefferson first asked to lead an expedition to the Pacific in 1783. From this site Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and the nucleus of the Corps of Discovery launched their expedition on October 26, 1803.


The UVA professor Dumas Malone is best known for his six-volume biography of Jefferson, which became the preeminent authoritative work on the life of the founding father.

The famous writer Mary Lee Settle was working on an imagined biography of Jefferson at the time of her death.


  1. Web. City council votes to remove Thomas Jefferson holiday, By Brianna Hamblin, CBS19NEWS.COM, July 02, 2019, Updated Tue 12:04 PM, Jul 02, 2019, retrieved October 15, 2019.
  3. Barefoot, Coy. Thomas Jefferson on Leadership: Executive Lessons from His Life and Letters. New York, NY: Plume, 2002. Print.

External links

Local reenactment business