Life of Thomas Jefferson Before and After Signing The Declaration of Independence

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1326 Words
Date:  2021-03-26

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743. His place of birth was Shadwell in Virginia. He was third born in the family of ten children. His father was Peter Jefferson was a surveyor and died when Thomas was only fourteen years old. Jeffersons mother was Jane Randolph. After the demise of his father, the property was shared between Thomas and his brother Randolph where Thomas inherited 5000 acres of his fathers estate including Monticello. At the age of 21 Thomas assumed full authority over his property. Thomas was the one who drafted the United States Declaration of Independence; he went ahead to become the secretary of state in the United States , the third vice president and eventually the president of the United States of America.

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Thomas began his formal education at the age of nine years old. He studied Latin, French, and Greek. His schooling began at a native primary school which was being run by Revered William Douglas. In the year 1757 when he had attained fourteen years, Jefferson furthered his studies in classics, history, and mathematics. He later joined the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg in Virginia at the age of 16. In the college Thomas studied metaphysics, mathematics, and philosophy under the guidance of Professor William small. It was also during his time in the College that he was introduced to the British empiricists by his professor. Two years after joining the college Thomas graduated. Since that time there were no law schools, and any aspiring lawyer had to learn law under the supervision of an established lawyer, Thomas read law under the supervision of Professor George Wythes and obtained his law license.

In 1767 Jefferson was admitted to the Virginia bar. At this time he was living with his mother at Shadwell. Apart from law practice, he represented Albemarle County as a delegate to the Virginia House of Burgesses between the year 1769 and 1775. Thomas initiated reforms to slavery particularly the year 1769 when he introduced legislation that allowed masters to take control over the emancipation of slaves. Taking the discretion away from the royal governor and the general court. During this time, Thomas made seven cases for slaves who were seeking freedom and in the process even waived his fee for one of the clients who he had argued that he should be set free before the statutory age of thirty. He also took on sixty-eight cases for the general court of Virginia in the year 1767 this was in addition to his most notable cases: Howell v. Netherland (1770), Bolling v. Bolling (1771), and Blair v. Blair(1772).

After the British parliament passed the extreme acts in 1774, Jefferson wrote a resolution calling for a day of fasting and prayer which was in protest as well as a boycott of all British goods. Jeffersons decision was later expanded into a summary view of the rights of British America in which he argued that people have the right to govern themselves. On January 1, 1772, Jefferson married Martha his third cousin. Martha was a recent widow and among the wealthiest women in Virginia. Jefferson and Martha had six children, but only two made it to adulthood. After the demise of Marthas father in 1773, the couple inherited 135 slaves and 11,000 acres together with estates debts.

In June 1776 a five-man committee was appointed and mandated with the task of drafting a declaration of independence. Jefferson was among the five selected; others included; John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingstone. The committee chose Jefferson to be the author of the declarations first draft. During the 17 days, Jefferson had written one of the most beautiful and powerful testimonials to liberty and equality in the world's history. Although the Declaration of Independence adopted on July 4, 1776, had undergone a series of revisions from what was initially drafted by Jefferson, its immortal words remain essentially his own. After authoring the independence declaration, Jefferson went back to Virginia where between 1776 and 1779 he served as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. In this capacity, Jefferson sought to revise Virginias laws to fit the American people ideologies and doctrine. He was successful in abolishing the doctrine of entail which dictated that only a property owners heir could inherit his land. Also the doctrine of primogeniture which required that in the absence of a will, a property owners eldest son inherited his entire estate. In 1777 Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statute for religious freedom, the statute separated the church and state and established freedom of religion. The document was not adopted until nine years later.

At the onset of the revolution, he was named commander of the Albemarle County militia. Shortly after he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates for Albemarle County. This time the crucial thing was finalizing the state constitution, for nearly three years he assisted with the constitution completion. In 1779 Jefferson was elected governor of Virginia, a time during which he transferred the state capital from Williamsburg to Richmond. He also introduced measures for public education, religious freedom and a revision of inheritance laws. During General Benedict Arnold's 1781 invasion of Virginia Jefferson was forced to flee his home Monticello and narrowly escaped the capture by the British Calvary that had been sent to capture him. Jefferson did not seek a third term as governor instead stepped down on June 4, 1781. After the stepping down he returned to Monticello claiming that he was giving up on public life. During this time away from politics he started working on his book Notes on the state of Virginia while the book's primary purpose was to outline the history, geography, and history of Virginia, it provided a window for Jeffersons political philosophy and word view at large. The book shed light on his views on slavery and race since he owned slaves in his entire life.

Following the victory in the revolutionary war against the Great Britain, United States formed a congress of the confederation with Great Britain in 1783 to which Jefferson was appointed as a Virginia delegate. He was also a member of the committee that set foreign exchange and recommended an American currency based on the decimal system which was adopted. He was sent by the Congress as the minister in Europe where he joined Adam and Franklin to negotiate an agreement with Spain, England, and France. At this time his wife Martha had died. While in France where he had relocated his family a some of his slaves to, Jefferson become a regular companion of a French hero of the American Revolutionary War which helped him make trade agreements with France. As France revolution started, he allowed his hotel residence to be used for meetings. Jefferson left Paris in 1789 intending to return soon.

Return to Paris never happened because Jefferson was appointed the secretary of the state forcing him to stay in the United States. When he was named, the pressing issues were national debt, which he opposed preferring that every state retires its own which nearly got him dismissed by Washington. Later Jefferson left the position voluntarily. In the year 1796 presidential campaign Jefferson lost to John Adams a Federalist and was subsequently elected a vice president because of a mistake in voting Adams running mate.

By the time of the election in 1800, the presidency of John Adams had revealed deep gaps in the Federalist Party between moderates such as Adam and extremist such as Hamilton. After the elections, Republicans had won more college electoral votes, but Jefferson and vice president candidate Aaron Burr had equal votes. Because of the tie, the election was decided by the house whose majority were federalist. Hamilton believing Jefferson to be a lesser evil compared to burr, he rallied federalist behind Thomas. Finally the house elected Jefferson the president and Burr his deputy.


Meacham, Jon (2012). Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. Random House LLC. ISBN 978-0-679-64536-8Miller, Robert J. (2008). Native America, Discovered and Conquered: Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, and Manifest Destiny. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0-8032-1598-6.

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Life of Thomas Jefferson Before and After Signing The Declaration of Independence. (2021, Mar 26). Retrieved from

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