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Thomas Jefferson

 


"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion."

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Attribution: Letter to William Charles Jarvis—The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Paul L. Ford, vol. 10, p. 161 (1899)

Date: September 28, 1820

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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