Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826)
American lawyer, architect, and writer; governor of Virginia (1779–1781), secretary of state to George Washington (1789– 1793), vice president to John Adams (1797–1801), and third president of the United States (1801–1809). A learned man of significant accomplishments in many fields, Jefferson became a lawyer and was elected to Virginia’s House of Burgesses, where he argued the cause of American independence. After completing his second term as president of the United States, he founded the University of Virginia, designing both the buildings and the curriculum. A fluent stylist, Jefferson authored Virginia’s Statute of Religious Freedom and wrote books on science, religion, architecture, and even Anglo-Saxon grammar. He is probably best known for writing the Declaration of Independence; his preliminary drafts were edited by a committee that included Benjamin Franklin and John Adams before Jefferson prepared the final revision. See also sc94.ameslab.gov/tour/tjefferson.html.