Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 at Shawdell to Peter and Jane Randolph Jefferson. (Bernstein 1-2) He was one of six children, with two older sisters, two younger sisters, and a younger brother. (Bernstein 2) There is not much information on his childhood years, with only family traditions to gather information from. (Bernstein 2) We do know that he could play the violin by the age of nine, and accompanied his older sister often. (Bernstein 3) His early years of education were spent at home under a private tutor. When he was nine, his father enrolled him in a local private school run by the Rev. William Douglas. (Bernstein 3) His father died when Jefferson was fourteen, at which time his guardians found him a new tutor. These two men gave Jefferson a strong background in classical education. (Bernstein 3) In 1760 Jefferson decided to enroll in William and Mary College. (Bernstein 3) While there, he met Professor William Small, who would have a profound impact on Jefferson’s education. (Bernstein 4)
William Small would introduce Jefferson to Francis Fraquier, Virginia’s lieutenant governor, and to George Wythe, a prominent lawyer. (Bernstein 5) It was during this period that Jefferson would develop his “lifelong passions for reading and buying books.” (Bernstein 5) It was also during his college years that he “gradually lost his beli...
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... years leading up to the drafting of the Declaration of Independence shaped Jefferson and gave him the knowledge and ability to write such a lasting, and definitive statement of the American mind. Those years also instilled in him the values and intelligence he would need throughout the rest of his life, and his time in public service, leading to two terms as President of the United States of America. Two hundred thirty one years later, his legacy remains a major force in America, and his Declaration an enduring statement of the founding principles of America.
Brief Biography of Thomas Jefferson. 29 October 2007
Bernstein, R. B. Thomas Jefferson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
Brown, David S. Thomas Jefferson A Biographical Companion. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1998.
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