Thomas Jefferson Timeline


Michael Benton, Contributor

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The timeline of Thomas Jefferson traces a life dedicated to the pursuit of reason and the equality of man but hypocritical at its core. Born into a moderately wealthy family of Virginia planters in 1743, not much is known of the early Thomas Jefferson life timeline until the death of his father at the age of fourteen and left young Thomas a few thousand acres and the estate known as Monticello. After making a name for himself in Virginia as a student, scientist, lawyer and politician, Jefferson was picked as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress where he was then chosen to take the lead in drafting of the Declaration of Independence. The Thomas Jefferson presidency timeline should actually begin with his service as Secretary of State under the Washington administration and include his term as Vice President after losing the election of 1796 to his old friend and rival, John Adams. Jefferson served two terms as the third President of the United States and nearly tripled the size of the nation with the Louisiana Purchase. In his retirement from politics, Jefferson became more active in other avenues, including founding the University of Virginia. Both Jefferson and his rival Adams would die on the same day, July 4th, 1826, fifty years after the publication of the Declaration of Independence.

  • Thomas Jefferson Timeline
  • 1743: Born in Shadwell, VA to a planter, Peter Jefferson and the daughter of a ship's captain, Jane Randolph.
  • 1757: Death of his father, postponed inheritance of land and Monticello.
  • 1760: Enrolls at the College of William & Mary and begins studying under the renowned Dr. William Small.
  • 1762: Graduates from William & Mary and initiates a law clerkship under George Wythe.
  • 1764: Accepts inheritance at the age of 21.
  • 1767: Admitted to the Virginia State Bar.
  • 1768: Elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses as the representative of Albemarle County.
  • 1772: Marries Martha Wayles Skelton; daughter Martha born.
  • 1774: Publishes "A Summary View of the Rights of British America" and left the legal practice. Inherited over 10,000 acres and a hundred slaves from his father-in-law,
  • 1775: Chosen as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress. Death of Jane Randolph.
  • 1776: Finishes writing the Declaration of Independence under the council of a Committee of Five that included John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. Elected to
  • 1777: Devises the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom which would not be passed into law for another nine years. An unnamed son is born and dies.
  • 1778: Daughter Maria is born.
  • 1779: Start of two-year term as Governor of Virginia
  • 1780: Daughter Lucy Elizabeth is born.
  • 1781: British troops are quartered at Monticello. Lucy Elizabeth dies.
  • 1782: Another daughter named Lucy Elizabeth is born, but his wife Martha dies.
  • 1783: Elected to Congress.
  • 1784: First of five years in France as Minister and Commissioner.
  • 1787: "Notes on the State of Virginia" is published.
  • 1790: Appointed Secretary of State on the Cabinet of the Washington Administration.
  • 1796: Loses presidential election to John Adams and becomes Vice President of the United States. Chosen as President of the American Philosophical Society.
  • 1800: Wins the election to prevent a second term for President Adams.
  • 1801: Inaugurated as the third President of the United States.
  • 1803: Signs the Louisiana Purchase, nearly tripling the territory of the United States. Calls for an expedition to the Pacific led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark.
  • 1804: Daughter Maria dies.
  • 1806: Lewis & Clark complete their expedition.
  • 1809: End of Presidency and official retirement from public life.
  • 1815: Sells entire personal library of 6,700 volumes to Congress.
  • 1817: Lays first stone at Central College, future site of the University of Virginia.
  • 1825: The University of Virginia is officially opened.
  • 1826: Thomas Jefferson dies only hours before the passing of his old friend and political rival, John Adams.