Better Know A President III: Thomas Jefferson

12 02 2009


-Elected from Virginia

-Served from 1801-1809

-Only President never to use the power of veto.

-Only President not to be a Christian. Jefferson was a Deist.

-One of the most outspoken people in Colonial America against slavery, even though he owned slaves. He could not release them because he was heavily in debt.

-His vice-president Aaron Burr famously killed former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Hamilton basically ridiculed him in public, and Burr could not let this go. Burr challenged him to a duel after Hamilton refused to take back what he had said. Hamilton shot first, but missed. Burr then gave Hamilton a mortal wound and he died the next day. Burr was still vice-president at the time of this duel.

-Jefferson quite literally made his own gospel while in the White House. He took pieces he liked and removed other he did not. He left out any of Jesus’ miracles, his virgin birth, and his divinity/resurrection.

-An avid wine connoisseur

-After Washington was burned by the British in the War of 1812, Jefferson donated his personal collection of books to the government. His books became the foundation for the Library of Congress.

-Jefferson was a man of science. An accomplished architect, he designed the Virginia State Capitol building. He also was influential in archeology, as this field was still very new at the time. He developed many of the techniques that early archeologists used. He also founded the University of Virginia in 1819.

-First US Secretary of State


Toward the end of his life, Thomas Jefferson wrote his own epitaph, and instructed that the inscription contain “not a word more.” Accordingly, his epitaph reads:

“Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.”

Incredibly, Jefferson chose not to mention that he was also:
Minister to France (1785-1789)
Secretary of State (1789-1793)
Vice President (1797-1806) and
President of the United States (1802-1809)

While serving as America’s vice president, Thomas Jefferson, dressed in soiled working clothes, entered Baltimore’s finest hotel one evening and asked for a room. The proprietor, a certain Mr. Boyden, turned him away. Soon thereafter Boyden, apprised of the identity of his distinguished visitor, promptly dispatched several servants to find him and offer as many rooms as his heart desired. Jefferson, having found a room in another hotel, sent Boyden’s representative away with the following message: “Tell Boyden that I value his good intentions highly, but if he has no room for a dirty farmer, he shall have none for the vice president.”

One morning Thomas Jefferson awoke in a modest Washington rooming house, got dressed, and left to attend his presidential inauguration. Duly sworn in, he returned home – and found “every accustomed seat in the dining room taken. No man present rose to offer the President his seat, until the wife of John Brown, the senator from Kentucky, offered to yield hers at the more desirable end of the table. Jefferson politely declined and, in silent acceptance of democratic principles (first come, first served), the third president of the United States went to his room without eating dinner.

In 1785, Thomas Jefferson, having arrived in France as America’s emissary, paid a visit to the French minister for foreign affairs. “You replace Monsieur Franklin?” the minister asked. “I succeed him,” Jefferson corrected him. “No one can replace him.”

Following Lewis and Clark’s famous expedition to the American Northwest, Thomas Jefferson expressed interest in keeping a live grizzly bear on the White House grounds. Jefferson also had a pet mockingbird that he taught to peck food from his lips and to hop up the stairs after him


A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned – this is the sum of good government.

All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.

Books constitute capital. A library book lasts as long as a house, for hundreds of years. It is not, then, an article of mere consumption but fairly of capital, and often in the case of professional men, setting out in life, it is their only capital.

Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto

Do not bite at the bait of pleasure, till you know there is no hook beneath it.




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