Who Was Thomas Jefferson?
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Did you know that John Adams had to coax Thomas Jefferson into writing the Declaration of Independence? It's true. The shy Virginia statesman refused at first, but then went on to author one of our nation's most important and inspiring documents. The third U.S. president, Jefferson was also an architect, inventor, musician, farmer, and-what is certainly the most troubling aspect of his life-a slave owner. Finally, here's a biography for kids that unveils the many facets of this founding father's remarkable and complicated life.
FIGHT FOR FREEDOM THROUGHOUT THE THIRTEEN COLONIES. Law and politics weren’t the only things on his mind. His family’s home, Shadwell, burned down in 1770. Jefferson was in Charlottesville, Virginia, when a slave brought the news. After learning that his relatives were safe, Jefferson asked if all the property was lost. “Not all,” the slave answered. “We saved your fiddle.” The year of the fire, Jefferson began building a new home that he had designed. With his slaves doing the work, the
colonies should get more involved. Second, the other delegates liked Thomas more than John. A Declaration written by Jefferson would be better received than one by Adams. “Reason third,” said John Adams, “you can write ten times better than I can!” The praise for his writing did the trick. “Well,” said Thomas Jefferson, “if you are decided, I will do as well as I can.” Jefferson sat down in his second-floor apartment at the corner of Philadelphia’s Market and Seventh streets. He set up his
years. He wanted to go home. Congress said he could. But Jefferson had one problem. Under French law, Sally could become free by staying in France. She agreed to return to the U.S. only if Jefferson made her a promise. Their children had to be freed once they reached adulthood. Sally may have also asked for her own freedom one day as well. Jefferson agreed. In the fall of 1789, he sailed for home with Sally Hemings and his two daughters. They barely made it. Off Virginia’s coast, a storm lashed
Thomas Jefferson, with sixty-eight. He moved to Philadelphia, the United States capital, and in 1797 began serving as Vice President. Jefferson and Adams were old friends. At first they got along well enough. But in time, the President and Vice President clashed. Jefferson was hurt that President Adams didn’t even consult him on most issues. To his daughter Patsy, he wrote: “It gives me great regret to be passing my time so uselessly when it could have been so importantly employed at home.”
Jefferson to and from His Children and Grandchildren. New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1964. Brodie, Fawn M. Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History. New York: Norton, 1974. Donovan, Frank. Mr. Jefferson’s Declaration. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1968. Fleming, Thomas. The Man from Monticello: An Intimate Life of Thomas Jefferson. New York: Morrow, 1969. Gordon-Reed, Annette. Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1997. Lengyel, Cornel