George Washington by Gilbert Stuart

Thomas Jefferson

Third President of the United States


Thomas Jefferson was the second Vice President and third President of the United States. He was a political genius and a brilliant writer. Jefferson was a delegate to the Second Continental Congress. At age 33, he drafted the Declaration of Independence and was the first American Secretary of State, serving under President George Washington. Jefferson served as the Vice President to President John Adams before becoming President in 1801. In 1803, during his first term, he oversaw the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France and sent Lewis and Clark westward. Jefferson spoke five languages and was deeply interested in a philosophical understanding of the world. He was not a great public speaker, but wrote nearly 19,000 letters during his lifetime. Jefferson became pen pals with President John Adams after he retired.

“Nothing would do more extensive good at small expense than the establishment of a small circulating library in every county.”

“I cannot live without books.”

“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

Jefferson sold his personal library to Congress (6,487 books) to help rebuild the Library of Congress after the British burned the U.S. Capitol during the War of 1812.

Jefferson wrote nearly 19,000 letters during his life and became pen pals with President John Adams after he retired.

Jefferson loved mockingbirds and kept them as pets because he loved their singing.


Jefferson loved vanilla ice cream, which he discovered during his travels in France.


Jefferson died just hours before his friend John Adams, on the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.