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Thomas Jefferson - Father of the Declaration of Independence

THOMAS JEFFERSON Third President of The United States April 13, 1743 (Shadwell, VA) - July 4, 1826 (Charlottesville, VA)

"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

With the Committee of Five, authored the Declaration of Independence, 1775. Became Vice-President under John Adams, losing by only 3 electoral votes, 1796. Won the “Revolution of 1800” (close election of 1800) beating out John Adams. Presided over the first modern political transfer of power in a Republic. Purchased the Louisiana Territory on April 30, 1803, from Napoleon and France, somewhat going against his strict constructionist values of interpreting the Constitution. Subsequently sent out the Corps of Discovery under Lewis and Clark to chart that unknown territory all the way to the Pacific Ocean! Signed the Embargo Act of 1807 into law on December 22 cutting off trade in foreign ports, inadvertently kick-starting the Industrial Age in the US. Used much of his personal library to help start the Library of Congress, especially after the British burned much of the LC's catalog during the War of 1812. Founded the University of Virginia in 1819 as a tool to be used by Enlightenment thinkers. For much of the 1800s it was known as THE University in the south. "But, as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other.” Describing his views on slavery, 1820 Both Jefferson and Adams remained life-long friends, yet political rivals, until they both died on Independence day, 1826. “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” Was Jefferson truly a great Enlightenment thinker? What was Jefferson's greatest contribution to the US? Why?

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