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Thomas Jefferson, Third President, 1801-1809

Thomas Jefferson was truly a Renaissance man. A brilliant scholar, inventor, naturalist, and architect, Jefferson played the violin, spoke six languages, conducted archeological investigations of Native American mounds, founded the University of Virginia, and assembled a 10,000-book library which became the foundation of the Library of Congress. His writing talent produced the historic Declaration of Independence, the document that boldly told King George that the colonies would no longer accept his rule. Jefferson's political savvy led him to hold a number of governmental positions before becoming president: he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses when he was only 25, served in the Continental Congress, became governor of Virginia, a diplomat in Europe where he helped negotiate the treaties that ended the Revolutionary War, secretary of state under Washington, and vice president under John Adams. During his presidency, Jefferson doubled the size of the country by purchasing the territory of Louisiana.

 


Transcript of Note Under Desk

"...Politics as well as Religion has its superstitions. These, gaining strength with time, may, one day, give imaginary value to this relic, for its great association with the birth of the Great Charter of our Independence."

 


"Declaration of Independence"

"Declaration of Independence," from the recording entitled "Heritage USA: The American Revolution," Folkways SFW FX SH 5190, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. © 1959. Used by permission.

In their desire for independence the people were actually ahead of Congress. "Every post and every day rolls in upon us independence like a torrent," John Adams observed. Finally, on July 2nd, 1776 Congress passed a resolution proposed by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia to the effect that the United States "are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states." Then they appointed a committee to draft a Declaration of Independence. The principal writing was done by Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, who had some help from Franklin and John Adams. In its final form this is how it sounded when read to the delegates at Philadelphia on the fourth of July 1776.

Partial Transcript:
"…We hold these truths to be self-evident
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,
that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
That to secure these rights,
governments are instituted among men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. …"

 


 

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Note Jefferson attached under his writing desk in 1825
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Note Jefferson attached under his writing desk in 1825


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