Thomas Jefferson

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Thomas Jefferson
Third President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1809
Preceded by John Adams
Succeeded by James Madison
Second Governor of Virginia
In office
June 1, 1779 – June 3, 1781
Preceded by Patrick Henry
Succeeded by William Fleming
Delegate to the Second Continental Congress
from Virginia
In office
June 20, 1775 – September 26, 1776
Preceded by George Washington
Succeeded by John Harvie
In office
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In office
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In office
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In office
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Personal details
Born April 13, 1743
  Shadwell, Virginia
Died July 4, 1826 (aged 83)
  Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.
Resting place {{{restingplace}}}
Residence(s) {{{residence}}}
Education Legal apprentice to George Wythe
Alma mater College of William & Mary
Profession Statesman
Spouse(s) Martha Wayles
Relatives {{{relatives}}}
Known for Author of the United States Declaration of Independence
Father of the University of Virginia
Signature [[File:|left|200px]]

In addition to drafting and signing the Declaration of Independence and serving two terms as the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826) was also a successful diplomat, lawyer, philosopher, and amateur architect.

Jefferson was born in 1743 in Shadwell, Virginia, to Peter Jefferson, a surveyor, and his wife Jane Randolph Jefferson, a member of the very wealthy and prominent Randolph family.[1] The elder Jefferson died when Thomas was only 14, leaving to his son an estate of 5,000 acres and many slaves.[2] Three years later, Jefferson enrolled at William & Mary College — studying mathematics, metaphysics, and philosophy under the tutelage of Dr. William Small.[3]

Small recognized great promise in Jefferson and recommended him to George Wythe, one of the most prominent lawyers in Virginia, as an apprentice.[4] At that time in the colonies, there were no law schools; most budding lawyers learned by apprenticing themselves to a practicing attorney. Jefferson spent the three years learning the intricacies of the law under Wythe and was admitted to the bar in 1767.[5] Wythe's tutelage had a profound impact on the young lawyer. In his autobiography, Jefferson recognized Wythe as one of the three most influential men in his life, along with Dr. Small and Jefferson’s benefactor, Peyton Randolph.[6] Jefferson described Wythe as "my faithful and beloved mentor in youth and my most affectionate friend through life"[7] and "my ancient master, my earliest and best friend."[8]

In 1769, Jefferson added a political career to his practice of law, being elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.[9] He gained notoriety for his support of the revolutionary cause, and in 1775 Jefferson was elected to the Second Continental Congress where he began drafting revolutionary state papers.[10] In June, 1776, Jefferson was tasked to draft a declaration of independence from Britain that would fairly represent all 13 colonies.

Jefferson's political career continued after his service in the Continental Congress. He served as Governor of Virginia (1779-1781), Minister to France (1785-89), Secretary of State (1790-1793), Vice President (1797-1801), and ultimately as President of United States (1801-1809).

Finished with politics after his second term as president, Jefferson retired to Monticello, the home he had built near Charlottesville, Virginia. As an avid student of architecture, he modeled the house after the work of Italian Renaissance master Andrea Palladio;[11] he repeated a similar design in his later works—the Virginia Capitol, Poplar Forest, and the University of Virginia.[12]

Jefferson wrote his own epitaph. In it, he identified the accomplishments of which he was most proud: the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and the founding of the University of Virginia.[13] Jefferson died at Monticello on July 4th, 1826 — the 50th anniversary of the announcement of American independence. Coincidentally, John Adams, a partner in the Continental Congress, a bitter political rival, and ultimately a rediscovered friend, died on the same day. Adam's reported last words, knowing nothing of Jefferson's death earlier on that same morning, were "Thomas Jefferson still survives."[14]

Wythe books willed to Jefferson

When George Wythe died in 1806, he willed his library and scientific equipment to Jefferson. Of the 332 titles listed on an inventory made by Jefferson, he kept 149 titles for his own library, and gave away 183 to various family members, a joiner who worked at Monticello, and his grandson's tutor. The list of books Jefferson retained follows, and is subdivided into categories assigned by Jefferson.[15] Click on the titles to learn more about the works.

Page 6

Books retained by Jefferson

Main article: Jefferson Inventory

Page six of Jefferson's inventory of books received from George Wythe's estate, September, 1806. This list indicates which volumes Jefferson intended to keep for himself. Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

  [Th]ucydides Gr. Lat. notis variorum. Dukeri fol.
  Thucydides Eng. by Smith. 2.v. 4tto.
  Xenophontis Cyropaedia. Gr. Lat. Hutchinson. 4to.
  Bryant's Mythology. 3.v. 4to.
  Sallust. Delph. 8vo.
  Aelianus Perizonii notis. 2.v. 8vo. [ed. Perizonii inserted with carat]

[Histo]ry }

Blair's Chronology. fol.
  Puffendorf's introdn to the hist. of Europe 1st. v. 8vo.
[Eccles]astl. Stackhouse's history of the Bible. 5.v. 8vo.
[Agricu]ltre. Auctores rei rusticate. Cato, Varro etc p. 8vo.
[Chemi]stry. Dobson's Commentary on fixed air. 8vo.
[H]is[t] Plinii historia Naturalis. Varior. 3.v. 8vo.
  Goldsmith's Animated Nature. 4.v. 8vo.
  Digges's Stratioticos. 8vo.
  Description of Nairne's electrical machine. 8vo
  Epicteti Manuel Gr. Lat. 4to.
  Theophrasti careteres. Gr. Lat. 12mo. Foulis
  Boetius de Consolationes. 12mo. Foulis.
  Minuciius Felicis Octavius. 12mo. Foulis
  Hume's essays. 1st. vol. 8vo.
[Relig]ion The Bible 4to.
  Novum testamentum. Gr. 8vo. Lond. 1728.
  do. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   12mo. Lond. 1743. Bower
  do. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  12mo. Lond. 1730. Tonson [ed. entry inserted later?]
  Testamentum vetus LXXII. et novum. 3.v. 12mo. Cantab. 1665.
  Hammond’s New testament. fol.
  Clarke's Concordance. 12mo
  Liturgia Anglicana Gr. 12mo.
  do. _ _ _ _ _ _   Lat. 12mo.
  Mori opera. 2.v fol.
  Puffendorf de officio hominis et civis. Johnson 8vo.
  Carey’s reports in Chancery 16s.
  Reports in Chancery tempore Finch. fol.
  Vernon's reports. 2.v. fol.
  Wythe's Chancery decisions. fol. & 8vo.[16]
[Commo]n law. Cragii Jus feudale. fol.
  Glanvil. 12mo.
  Bracton. fol.
  Les tenures de Monsr. Littleton. p.f.
  Perkins's treatise on the law of England. p.f.
  Coke on Littleton. fol. defective.
  Coke’s Institutes. 3.v. fol.
  Viner's abr. F. to Y. inclus. 10.v. fol.
  Blackstone's commentaries. 1st. & 4th. vols. 4to.
  Laws of the US. 4.v. 8vo.
  Laws of Virgā. various edns.
  Brownlow's entries
  Clerk's guide by Manly. 8vo.
  Brown's Modus intrandi. 2.v. 8vo.
  Pigott's conveyancing. fol.
  Brydall's conveyancer. 8vo.
  [L]aw of bailments. 8vo.

Page 7


Page seven of Jefferson's inventory. Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

  Trover. 8vo. [entry partially shaved]
  Plowden's reports. French. fol
  do. _ _ _ _ _ _   English. fol.
  Croke's rep. 3.v. fol.
  Siderfin's   fol.
  Shower's   2.v. fol.
  Levinz's   2.v. fol.
  Andrews'   fol.
  Cases in L. & Eq. or 10th. Modern. fol.
  Report of the case of Kampier & Hawkins in the G.C. of Virga. 8vo.[17]
  Washington’s reports. 2.v. 8vo.
  Call's reports. 2.v. 8vo.
Law Ecclesl. Nelson's letters testamentary. 8vo.
Politics. Xenophontis Hiero. sive de regno. 12mo. Foul. [ed. checkmark in pencil precedes entry]
  Proceedings of the Virginia convention
Mathematics. Emerson's Algebra. 8vo.
pure. Simpson's Algebra. 8vo.
  Rowlett's tables. 4to.
  Masere's principles of life annuities. 4to.
  Euclid by Simpson. 4to.
  Gibson's surveying. 8vo.
  Treatise on gauging. 8vo.
Astronomy Gadberry's doctrine of nativities. p. fol.
Geography Guthrie's geography 2.v. 4to.
  Pinkerton's geography. 2.v. 8vo.
  Sandy's travels. fol.
  Notes on Virginia. 8vo. 2.copies.
  Atlas by Arrowsmith & Lewis 4to.
  Plans of forts in America 8vo.
Poetry - Epic.
Fine arts.  
Architecture. LeRoy's Ruins of Athens. fol
Sculpture Spence's Polymetis. fol.
Poetry. Epic. Homeri Ilias et Odyssea. Barnes. 2.v. 4to.
  Homeri Odysseus. Gr. Oxon. 8vo.
  Virgil. 12mo.
  Dryden's Virgil. 3.v. 12mo.
  Milton's Paradise lost & regained. Baskerville. 2.v. 8[vo]
  Ossian. 2.v. 8vo.
  Statius. varior. 8vo.
Romance. Ovidii Metamorphoseon. Delph. 8vo.
  Constantia Philips. 2d. & 3d. v. 12mo.
Tragedy. Francklin’s Sophocles. 2.v. in 1. 4to.
  Aeschylus. Gr. Lat. 2.v. p. 4to. Foul.
  Euripidis Medea et Phoenissae. Gr. Lat. Piers. cum scholii
  Potter's Euripides. 2.v. 4to.
  Joddrell's illustrations of Euripides. 8vo.
  Shakespear by Johnson & Steevens with the Supplement 12.v.
  [ed. possible additional entry at foot]

Page 8


Page eight of Jefferson's inventory. Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

  [Plautus] notis varior. 2.v. 8vo.
[?] Fawkes's Theocritus. 8vo.
  Bion et Moschus. Gr. Lat. notis Heskin. 8vo.
  Virgilii Bucolica Rami. 12mo.
  Callimachus. Gr. fol. Foul.
  Tyrtaeus. Gr. Lat. 4to. Foul.
  Anacreon, Sappho, et Alcaeus. Gr. Lat. 12mo.
  Anacreon. Gr. Forster. 12mo.
  Moore's Anacreon. p. 8vo.
  Tibullus et Propertius. 12mo. Foul.
  Vida. 12mo.
  Musae Anglicanae. 3.v. 12mo.
  Cowley's works. fol.
  Psalterion. Gr. Lat. 12mo.
[Dialo]gue. Luciani opera. Gr. Lat. Gesneri. sholiis et notis 3.v. 4to. Amst. 1743.
[Didac]tic. Lucretius. Lond. Tonson. 1712. 4to.
  do. _ _ _ _  Tanaquil Fabri. 12mo.
  Hurd's Horace. 2.v. 12mo.
  Petronius. notis varior. 8vo.
  Swift's works. 13.v. 12mo.
  Praedium Rusticum.
  Pursuits of Literature. 8vo.
  Hudibras. p.f.
  Plinii epistolae. 12mo.
[Orat]ory. Artis Logicae. Aldrich. 12mo.
  Demetrius Phalereus de elocutione. Gr. Lat. Foulis. 8vo.
  Cambray on eloquence. 12mo.
  Demosthenis orationes selectae. Mounteney. 8vo.
  Oeuvres de Demosthene & do Eschine par Auger. Fr. 5.v. 8vo.
  Discours de Lycurgue, d'Andocide etc par Auger. Fr. 8vo.
  Isocrate d'Auger. 3.v. 8vo.
[Critici]sm. Greek grammar of Gloucester. 8vo.
  Basilii Fabri thesaurus eruditionis Scholasticae. fol. [ed. entry inserted later?]
  Thesaurus linguae Latinae Cowper. fol.
  Littleton's Latin dict. Lat. Eng. 4to.
  Ainsworth's dict. Lat. Eng. abridged. 8vo.
  Gradus ad Parnsassum. 12mo.
  Ash’s Introduction to Lowthe's grammar. 12mo.
  Walker's dictionary. 8vo.
  Harris's Philological enquiries. 8vo.
  Blackwell's sacred classics. 2.v. 12mo.
  Lowth de Poesi Hebraeorum. 8vo.
  Longinus. Gr. Lat. Tollii 4to.
  Claesse's Mohawk liturgy. p. 4to.
[Polygra]phic. American Encyclopedia. 18.v. 4to.
  Erasmi Adagiorum epitome. p.f.
  Bacon's advancement of learning. p. fol. Eng.

See also


  1. Merrill D. Peterson, "Jefferson, Thomas" in American National Biography Online, accessed 21 October 2013,
  2. Ibid.
  3. Merrill D. Peterson, Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation: A Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970).
  4. Fawn McKay Brodie, Thomas Jefferson, an Intimate History, 1st ed. (New York: Norton, 1974), 45.
  5. Peterson, "Jefferson, Thomas."
  6. Brodie, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History, 110
  7. Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson (Raleigh, N.C.: Alex Catalogue), 5.
  8. "Thomas Jefferson to William DuVal, June 14, 1806," The Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress,
  9. Peterson, "Jefferson, Thomas."
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid.
  14. Ibid.
  15. This list was adapted from the "Library of George Wythe" in the Thomas Jefferson Libraries project on the website for Monticello. See: "Library of George Wythe," Thomas Jefferson Libraries, Monticello, accessed July 2, 2013. For the manuscript version, see "Inventory of the Books Received by Thomas Jefferson from the Estate of George Wythe, Circa September, 1806," Massachusetts Historical Society, accessed July 2, 2013.
  16. The entry for "Wythe's Chancery decisions" includes the folio volume of Wythe's Decisions of Cases in Virginia, by the High Court of Chancery (1795), and six octavo pamphlets reporting seven cases published in 1796 and later: Case upon the Statute for Distribution, Report of the Case between Field and Harrison, Between Fowler and Saunders, Between Wilkins and Taylor, Between Yates and Salle, and Love against Donelson.
  17. The parties reported are Peter Kamper (not Kampier) and Mary Hawkins. See Report of Kamper v. Hawkins.