Thomas Jefferson

Author of Letters of Thomas Jefferson and 10+ Books

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson

258 Quotes

In fact, Jefferson may have been more than a mere Renaissance man. In five languages, he was fluent and able to read two more. Throughout his life he wrote more than seventeen thousand letters. He knew almost every influential person in America, as well as a great many people in Europe. He was an attorney, agronomist, musician, philosopher, author, architect, inventor, and statesman. Although before adulthood he never set foot outside the America... n continent, he acquired an education that rivaled Europe's finest achievement. He was clearly the Enlightenment's foremost American son. Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 in Shadwell in Albemarle County, Virginia. He was tutored in the finest classical tradition by Reverend James Maury, a learned man. At the age of 9, he began studying Latin, Greek, and French. At the age of seventeen, he attended William and Mary College in Williamsburg, then continued his law education under George Wythe, America's first professor of law (who would later sign the Declaration of Jeffersons in 1776). He was never a very vocal member, but his writing, his quiet committee work, and his ability to distill large volumes of information into essence made him an invaluable member in any deliberative body. Jefferson was selected as an alternate in 1775 when a Virginia convention selected delegates to the Continental Congress. It was expected that the Royal Governor would recall Payton Randolph (then also Virginia House Speaker and Continental Congress President). This happened, and in his place Jefferson went. Thomas Jefferson had a theory about self-governance and people's rights in new lands. He codified these thoughts in an article called A Summary View of British America's Rights before attending the Congress in Philadelphia. He sent this paper in front of him. On the road he fell ill and was delayed for a few days. His paper had been published as a pamphlet by the time he arrived and sent to England throughout the colonies, where Edmund Burke, sympathetic to the colonial condition, had it reproduced and circulated widely. In 1776 Jefferson was selected by the committee to write the draft, then a member of the committee to draft a declaration of independence. The document was offered to the Congress on the first day of July, with some minor corrections by James Madison and an embellishment by Franklin. It was somewhat modified by the Congress, abbreviating certain wording and removing points that were beyond general agreement. The Declaration was adopted on July Fourth. Not long afterward, Jefferson returned to his home. His wife and two of his children were very ill, tired of being away from home, and anxious about developing a new government for his native state. He succeeded Patrick Henry as Governor of Virginia in June of 1779. The nation was still at war, and there was a heavy attack on the southern colonies. The governorship of Jeffersons was hesitantly clouded. He himself concluded that a military man would serve the state better. After his first term he declined re-election, and General Nelson of Yorktown succeeded him. In 1781 he retired to Monticello, the estate he inherited, to write, to work on improved farming, and to attend his wife. He wrote Notes on the State of Virginia during this time, a work he never completed. Martha Jefferson died in September 1782. Jefferson was thrown into a depression that he might never have recovered, according to his eldest daughter.READ MORE

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Popular quotes by Thomas Jefferson

On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.

Always take hold of things by the smooth handle.

I have observed, indeed, generally, that while in protestant countries the defections from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in catholic countries they are to Atheism.
Diderot
,
D'Alembert
,
D’Holbach
,
Condorcet
, are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than the love of God.
[
Letter to Thomas Law, 13 June 1814
]

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

Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia.
[
Epitaph, upon his instructions to erect a 'a plain die or cube ... surmounted by an Obelisk' with 'the following inscription, and not a word more…because by these, as testimonials that I have lived, I wish most to be remembered.' It omits that he had been President of the United States, a position of political power and prestige, and celebrates his involvement in the creation of the means of inspiration and instruction by which many human lives have been liberated from oppression and ignorance
]

He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

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