Thomas Jefferson, third President of United States, had a multifaceted personality. Although many intellectuals criticized him by over the issues of racism and slavery, Jefferson remains as one of the best U.S. presidents. Abraham Lincoln called Jefferson “the most distinguished politician in our history”. Jefferson was an active member and eventual president of the American Philosophical Society, a polyhistor spoke 5 languages and was extremely intent by science, invention, architecture, religion and philosophy. Here are 10 interesting facts about Jefferson’s life.
10. Love for Books:
Jefferson was very passionate about books. He built his own huge personal library and owned 6,487 volumes, which he offered as a replacement to Library of Congress to restocked, as in 1814, the original Library of Congress was attacked by British and all the books were burnt. He sold his books to pay off all his debts but instead he got more books as he said” I cannot live without books”.
09. Connoisseur of Wines
At the mere age of 17, Jefferson was attracted to fine wines. Jefferson got the knowledge of wine from his law tutor, the great scholar George Wythe. Whythe’s house is one of the most excellent still preserved at Williamsburg. Wyeth definitely liked fine wines and even had a vaulted brick wine underground store built under his attractive Georgian house, where Jefferson stayed while studying law. Jefferson had two vineyards in Monticello. He was accredited as a great wine connoisseur of early days of America. He wanted to prop up wine as a substitute to whisky and cider.
08. Author of the Declaration of Independence
Jefferson was very proud of his role in writing the Declaration of Independence. The Congress proposed a drafting committee “The Committee of Five”, to compose a draft of declaration of independence. Thomas Jefferson was known for his articulate writing style and thus he became the principal author of the Declaration of Independence.
07. University of Virginia
Jefferson was profoundly interested in science, invention, architecture, religion and philosophy. He was an active member and also the president of the American Philosophical Society. These interests led him lay the foundation of the University of Virginia in 1817. In 1987, the UNESCO named it Thomas Jefferson’s “Academical Village”
Thomas Jefferson was born as a third child to his father Peter Jefferson who was a planter and mother Jane Randolph. At the mere age of nine, Jefferson began learning different languages like Latin, Greek, and French; he learned horse riding, and began to study nature. He studied and practiced law for many years and he was called as “tall, sandy-haired and freckled”. He liked music and played Violin lessons. A hard-working student, Jefferson had inquisitiveness in all fields. He graduated in 1762, completing his studies in only two years. Jefferson learned law while he was working as a law clerk for Wythe. He was then admitted to the Virginia bar in 1767.
Jefferson married to Martha Wayles Skelton, who was a widow and just 23 years, on 1st January 1772. She was Jefferson’s hostess and managed his large house. Martha was very attractive and a brilliant lady. She accompanied Jefferson by playing piano while he played a violin. Their marriage lasted only 10 years as Martha died at the mere age of 33 years as she was ailing and she was a diabetic patient, and further weakened her as she gave birth to many children. Martha and Jefferson bore six children in their ten years of married life. Jefferson was in deep pain after the death of Martha. As he had promised Martha, Jefferson never remarried
04. Slavery and his slaves
As a planter in Monticello himself, Jefferson owned almost 600 slaves in his life time. Although Jefferson was said to be as a compassionate and generous slave owner, some historians expressed doubts that. Jefferson strongly believed he believed that slavery was contrary to the laws of nature where everyone had a right to personal liberty. He opposed the slave trade and proposed to transport the freed slaves to Africa, to set up their own independent nation. The major achievement of his presidency was the abolition of slave trade. He signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves on March 2, 1807.
Monticello means “the little mountain,” in Italian. When Thomas was fourteen years of age, his father, Peter Jefferson died. Peter left about 3000 acres of land and about 30 slaves for Thomas. At the age of twenty six, Jefferson started constructing Monticello. As in those days there were few architects in Virginia, he learnt architecture, reading then famous books like Andrea Palladio’s The Four Books of Architecture. He gained knowledge about principles and design from reading these books.
02. Controversial personal life
Thomas Jefferson was a politically renowned personality but his personal life was always in controversy. Who doesn’t know the famous Jefferson-Hemings controversy? It was said that Jefferson fathered children with Sally Hemings, who was a slave at Monticello. It is also said that she looked alike to his wife Martha Jefferson. Though the Y-DNA tests of one of Sally’s son indicated a genetic link between the Jefferson and Hemings descendants, the controversy later continued.
Jefferson also became attached to Maria Cosway, who was highly educated, Italian born, widower. They were into intimate relationship which later continued, lifelong. Jefferson wrote a 4000 word love letter to Maria, which is well known his “Dialogue of the Head vs. the Heart”.
Jefferson was elected as a president from 1801and continued to served until he was succeeded as president in 1809 by his friend James Madison. Thomas did not like to follow for etiquettes unlike the preceding president John Adams. Jefferson arrived alone on horseback without any guards or escort at the inauguration ceremony. He had worn plain attire and retired his own horse to the nearby stable. When he assumed his presidential office, there was a 83 million dollar national debt. In his tenure, he channelled the purchase of Louisiana Territory from France. This added 883000 square miles to the United States.
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