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Thomas Jefferson

 


"The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government."

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Attribution: Letter to the Republican Citizens of Washington County, Maryland—The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. H. A. Washington, vol. 8, p. 165 (1871)

Date: March 31, 1809

Thomas Jefferson

1743–1826

3rd President of the United States (1801–9), author of the Declaration of Independence. Born April 13, 1743, at Shadwell in Goochland (now in Albemarle) County, VA. After graduating from the College of William and Mary in 1762 he studied law. As a delegate to the Second Continental Congress (1775–76), he served as a member of the committee to draft the Declaration of Independence. Except for minor alterations by John Adams and Benjamin Franklin and some others made on the floor of Congress, that document was wholly the work of Jefferson. In 1779, Jefferson succeeded Patrick Henry as governor of Virginia. In 1800 Jefferson tied with Aaron Burr in the presidential election but was elected after a long deadlock by the House of Representatives. Jefferson was the first President inaugurated in Washington, D.C., a city he had helped to plan. After 1809, Jefferson retired at Monticello. During these years he was able to help found of the University of Virginia. President of the American Philosophical Society (1797–1815), Jefferson was a scientist, an architect, and a philosopher-statesman, vitally interested in literature, the arts, and every phase of human activity.

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