Skip to main content

Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)

Portrait, Thomas Jefferson 

Thomas Jefferson


3rd President of the United States
(March 4, 1801 to March 3, 1809)

Nicknames: "Man of the People"; "Sage of Monticello"

Born: April 13, 1743, in Shadwell, Virginia
Died: July 4, 1826, at Monticello (near Charlottesville, Virginia)


Father: Peter Jefferson
Mother: Jane Randolph Jefferson
Married: Martha Wayles Skelton (1748-1782), on January 1, 1772
Children: Martha Washington Jefferson (1772-1836); Jane Randolph Jefferson (1774-75); infant son (1777); Mary Jefferson (1778-1804); Lucy Elizabeth Jefferson (1780-81); Lucy Elizabeth Jefferson (1782-85)

Religion: No formal affiliation
Education: Graduated from College of William and Mary (1762)
Occupation: Lawyer, planter
Political Party: Democratic-Republican
Other Government Positions:

  • Member of Virginia House of Burgesses, 1769-74
  • Member of Continental Congress, 1775-76
  • Governor of Virginia, 1779-81
  • Member of Continental Congress, 1783-85
  • Minister to France, 1785-89
  • Secretary of State, 1790-93 (under Washington)
  • Vice President, 1797-1801 (under J. Adams)

Presidential Salary: $25,000/year


Vice Presidents: Aaron Burr (1801-05); George Clinton (1805-09)


Secretary of State
James Madison (1801-1809)
Secretary of the Treasury
Samuel Dexter (1801)
Albert Gallatin (1801-09)
Secretary of War
Henry Dearborn (1801-1809)
Attorney General
Levi Lincoln (1801-04)
John Breckinridge (1805-06)
Caesar A. Rodney (1807-09)
Secretary of the Navy
Benjamin Stoddert (1801)
Robert Smith (1801-09)

Notable Events:

  • 1803
    • Supreme Court ruled in Marbury v. Madison . Any law passed by Congress can be declared unconstitutional by the courts.
      The Louisiana Territory was purchased from France for $15 million dollars. The price works out to three cents per acre for the 512 million acres.
  • 1804
    • 12th Amendment changed Presidential election rules.
      Jefferson reelected.
      Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began exploration of the Northwest.
      Vice President Aaron Burr kills Alexander Hamilton in a duel July 11.
  • 1807
    • Congress outlaws importing slaves from Africa, March 2.
      Embargo Act, December 22, forbids American ships to leave American waters.
  • 1808
    • Slave importation outlawed. Yet, another 1/4 million brought in by 1860.
  • 1809
    • Non-Intercourse Act, March 1, repeals the Embargo Act, which didn't work.

Points of Interest:

  • Jefferson was the first president to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C.
  • Approximately 6,000 books from Jefferson's private library were purchased for $23,950 to help start the Library of Congress.
  • Bears brought back from Lewis and Clark's famous expedition were displayed in cages on the White House lawn. For years the White House was sometimes referred to as the "president's bear garden."
  • The only presidents to sign the Declaration of Independence, Adams and Jefferson both died on its 50th anniversary, July 4, 1826. Adams' dying words were "Thomas Jefferson survives". Jefferson, however, had passed on a few hours earlier.
  • Jefferson is credited with several inventions, including the swivel chair, a pedometer, a machine to make fiber from hemp, a letter-copying machine, and the lazy susan.
  • Jefferson wrote his own epitaph without mentioning that he served as president of the United States.