Saturday, February 11, 2006

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743 N.S. – July 4, 1826) was the third President of the United States (1801–1809), principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential founders of the United States. Major events during his presidency include the Louisiana Purchase (1803), the Embargo Act of 1807, and the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806).
A political philosopher who promoted classical liberalism, republicanism, and the separation of church and state, he was the author of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779, 1786), which was the basis of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. He was the eponym of Jeffersonian democracy and the founder and leader of the Democratic-Republican Party which dominated American politics for over a quarter-century and was the precursor to today's Democratic Party. Jefferson also served as the second Governor of Virginia (1779–1781), first United States Secretary of State (1789–1795), and second Vice President (1797–1801).

After the British burned Washington and the Library of Congress in August 1814, Jefferson offered his own collection to the nation. In January 1815, Congress accepted his offer, appropriating $23,950 for his 6,487 books, and the foundation was laid for a great national library. Today, the Library of Congress' website for federal legislative information is named THOMAS, in honor of Jefferson.The range of his interests is remarkable. For many years he was President of the American Philosophical Society.

Thomas Jefferson was also an agriculturalist, horticulturist, architect, etymologist, archaeologist, mathematician, cryptographer, surveyor, paleontologist, author, lawyer, inventor, violinist, and the founder of the University of Virginia. Many people consider Jefferson to be among the most brilliant men ever to occupy the Presidency. President John F. Kennedy welcomed forty-nine Nobel Prize winners to the White House in 1962, saying, "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."


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