Biography Of Thomas Jefferson


Michael Benton, Contributor

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biography of thomas jeffersonAny given biography about Thomas Jefferson might take several points of view on the actions and the legacy of this premier Founding Father, some of them contradictory to one another. Even a brief biography of Thomas Jefferson can not ignore the dichotomy of his ideals and the reality within which he lived. Born into a world of stark institutional inequality, Jefferson simultaneously argued for the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness while owning and operating a massive plantation of slaves. Many Thomas Jefferson biographies completely avoid the evidence of his relationship with Sally Hemings, a slave and half-sister of his widowed wife who reportedly bore him several children. Only the best biography of Thomas Jefferson could encapsulate his personal and political life with all the struggle and contradiction in one single narrative. It is not the duty of a historian to criticize the morals of an historical figure, but to understand more about the early United States, it is important to know the good, bad and ugly of Thomas Jefferson biography facts.

In a Thomas Jefferson short biography, one might expect to only read about his career in politics and diplomacy, a glorious career indeed. As a representative of Virginia to the Second Continental Congress, Jefferson was tasked with drafting the Declaration of Independence. After serving as the wartime Governor of Virginia, Jefferson was sent to France as a diplomatic Minister. He served as Secretary of State under the Washington administration and lost narrowly to John Adams in the presidential election of 1796. At the time, the runner-up became Vice President and thus Jefferson served under his rival for 4 years before defeating him in the election of 1800. As the third President of the United States, Jefferson had a number of significant and memorable accomplishments including the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. For Thomas Jefferson, occupation in public service ended after his second term as President. At the age of 77, he began to work on the Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson but focused only on his life before the Revolution through the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

Resources for biographies of Thomas Jefferson are deep and plentiful. Hundreds of letters from his correspondence with friends and fellow Founding Fathers are available through private collections and the Library of Congress. The National Park Service has created its own Thomas Jefferson bio including numerous historic sites from the life of the third President. For a life summary of Thomas Jefferson, there are numerous documentaries available including many that focus on his controversial personal life and religious views. With such a unique and active intellect as Jefferson's, historians and biographers have plenty to debate about his ideals and opinions. The differences between his ideals and actions are so apparent that ignoring them would reduce the value and accuracy of any Jefferson biography. Instead of attempting to glorify the man by ignoring his faults, it would be more effective to address every issue in the context of history.