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Who Was President Thomas Jefferson?

Updated on December 28, 2015
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I am a Christian. I was an 8th-grade American History teacher. I am currently a freelance writer, public speaker, & homeschooling mom of 8.

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Jefferson for Teachers, Students, & All Who Love to Learn

Looking for great YouTube video clips, books, and free worksheets and lapbooks for teaching and/or learning about President Thomas Jefferson? Here you will find my favorite picks we used while studying the individual Presidents of the United States. This is part of a series of lessons I posted on individual Presidents. You can find links to all the lessons at President's Day Unit Study .

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Thomas Jefferson Official White House Portrait by Rembrandt Peale
Thomas Jefferson Official White House Portrait by Rembrandt Peale | Source

Just the Facts on Our 3rd President

Presidential Term: 1801-1809

Political Party: Democratic-Republican

Vice Presidents: Aaron Burr (1801-1805) & George Clinton (1805-1809)

Birthplace: Virginia

Occupation: Lawyer & Planter

Yearly Salary as President: $25,000

Height: 6'2.5"

Our Favorite Free Worksheets, Lapbooks, Recipes, & Trivia on Thomas Jefferson

We found these to be helpful when creating a notebook, lapbook, and cooking project on President Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson Worksheets offer links to lots of free worksheets covering Thomas Jefferson. Also included are book suggestions and general information.

Lewis and Clark and Me Lapbook offers free lapbook pages & activity ideas for Lewis and Clark and Me by Laurie Myers. Also look for the lapbook pages from the same website based on the book Where the Buffaloes Begin by Olaf Baker, which also has pages related to Lewis and Clark.

Jefferson's Favorite Foods provides a description of Jefferson's favorite foods and also includes links to his ice cream, cream cheese, and pasta recipes.

Presidents Lapbook provides free lapbook pages for each of the Presidents of the United States. This is ideal if you are looking for a quick page for each President rather than something more in-depth.

Thomas Jefferson's Points of Interest includes an overview of Thomas Jefferson's life and some fun points of interest.

Timeline of Major Events During Thomas Jefferson's Presidency

-War with Tripoli (Barbary pirates)

-Ohio admitted as 17th state
-Marbury v. Madison
-Louisiana Purchase

-12th Amendment passed
-Jefferson reelected for 2nd term
-Lewis & Clark began explorations of Louisiana Territory.
-Vice President Aaron Burr kills Alexander Hamilton in a duel

-Embargo Act
-Robert Fulton built Clermont steamboat

-Importation of slaves from Africa outlawed

-Non-Intercourse Act

Mount Rushmore in South Dakota featuring President Thomas Jefferson
Mount Rushmore in South Dakota featuring President Thomas Jefferson | Source

Featured on Mount Rushmore

Thomas Jefferson was one of the four Presidents carved into Mount Rushmore. Thomas Jefferson's sculpture actually had to be done twice. He was originally situation to the right of George Washington, but after much sculpting, Borglum decided the rock was unsuitable and used dynamite to destroy the first carving. Thankfully the second attempt was more successful.

Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home
Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home | Source

A Man of Many Talents: Inventor, Architect, Linguist...and President

Thomas Jefferson was interested in learning about just about everything. He had his own museum and one of the largest collections of books of his time. He spoke at least 7 languages, invented numerous gadgets including the lazy susan, swivel chair, letter-copying machine, and numerous other items. Many of these inventions can still be seen at his home, Monticello, which he designed and built himself.

First Barbary War
First Barbary War | Source

Attacking Barbary Pirates

Between 1801-1805 Thomas Jefferson fought the Barbary pirates, off the coast of North Africa at Tripoli, who were attacking American ships. This became known as the First Barbary War.

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale
Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale | Source

Refusing to Be Fancy or Grand

A firm believer in what he wrote in the Declaration of Independence, that "all men are created equal," Jefferson refused to appear fancy or grand. He never wore a white wig, the fashion of the day for all "fashionable gentlemen." Even at his Inauguration, he refused to ride in a carriage, and instead walked over to the Capitol building.

Map showing the territory of the Louisiana Purchase in comparison with the original United States land
Map showing the territory of the Louisiana Purchase in comparison with the original United States land | Source

The Louisiana Purchase & Pet Bears

Jefferson is probably most well known for doubling the size of the America through the Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson kept bears brought back from Lewis and Clark's expedition in cages on the White House lawn.

Political Cartoon on the Embargo Act
Political Cartoon on the Embargo Act | Source

The Embargo Act and the Napoleonic Wars

In 1807, Jefferson supported the Embargo Act in an attempt to stay neutral during the Napoleonic Wars. The act discouraged American merchants from trading with England, who was kidnapping American seaman and impressing them into the British Navy. The Embargo Act proved to be qite detrimental to the American economy, so the Embargo Act was repealed two years later in 1809 by the Non-Intercourse Act.


Owning Slaves But Fighting to End Slavery

Even though Jefferson owned hundreds of slaves over the course of his lifetime, he opposed slavery and made numerous attempts at ending slavery in America. In 1808, he supported Congress outlawing the importation of slaves from Africa, though hundreds of thousands of slaves continued to be imported through 1860.

Jefferson's gravesite
Jefferson's gravesite | Source

Thomas Jefferson's Death and Burial

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the only presidents to sign the Declaration of Independence, both died on its 50th anniversary, July 4, 1826. Adams' dying words were "Thomas Jefferson survives" even though, unbeknownst to him, Thomas Jefferson had died a few hours earlier. Jefferson had already written his epitaph, which did not include that he had been governor or President, nor did it mention the Louisiana Purchase.

The Jefferson Memorial statue by Rudulph Evans in Washington, D.C. was dedicated in 1943 to mark the 200th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's birth.
The Jefferson Memorial statue by Rudulph Evans in Washington, D.C. was dedicated in 1943 to mark the 200th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's birth.

Our Favorite Children's Books on Thomas Jefferson

My Favorite Picture Books on Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson's Feast (Step into Reading) (Step #4)
Thomas Jefferson's Feast (Step into Reading) (Step #4)

All of my children love this fun picture book, which discusses the various foods that Jefferson introduced to Americans during his presidency.

Thomas Jefferson: Great American (Graphic Biographies)
Thomas Jefferson: Great American (Graphic Biographies)

My boys (ages 9 and 6) love this series that has comic book style illustrations and is packed with plenty of historically accurate information.


More of Our Favorite Picture Books on Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson by Cheryl Harness is a longer picture book but is full of interesting tidbits and does a wonderful job of bringing out Jefferson's character and showing him as a regular person who did amazing things. The illustrations are also gorgeous. This would be best for grades 2+ as it does have many words.

The Value of Foresight: The Story of Thomas Jefferson (Valuetales Series) by Ann Donegan Johnson is one of our favorites because it focuses especially on Thomas Jefferson's character. The book includes lots of information about Thomas Jefferson, but it is presented in such an engaging manner (and has such nice cartoon-like illustrations) that even my preschoolers enjoy listening to this book.

How To Draw The Life And Times Of Thomas Jefferson (Kid's Guide to Drawing the Presidents of the United States of America) by Melody S. Mis s a wonderful series that combines the Presidents of the United States with art. Even my 6 year old could follow the drawing directions and my 9 year old created some impressive drawings while learning more about Thomas Jefferson.

Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and the True Story of an American Feud by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain is a delightful picture book on the feud and friendship between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. It presents both men as equally noble in what they stood for and includes how they eventually became friends.

Meet Thomas Jefferson by Patricia A. Pingry is a picture book best for preschool and early elementary aged children that covers Thomas Jefferson's life from when he was a young boy until he retired as a farmer.

The Story of Thomas Jefferson Board book by Patricia A. Pingry is a wonderful board book for babies, toddlers, and young preschoolers. It has a sentence on each page and illustrations that appeal to very young children (and still make the people look like real people).

Thomas Jefferson: A Picture Book Biography by James Cross Giblin describes how the studious and shy authored the Declaration of Independence and eventually became President and . It has nice illustrations.

First Peas to the Table: How Thomas Jefferson Inspired a School Garden by Susan Grigsby focuses more on Thomas Jefferson as a farmer and pioneering botanist, which he was. It is nice to have a book that includes a bit more than the usual information about this incredible man of history. This story follows a school girl as she participates in a school contest to grow peas for the school garden. Numerous references to Thomas Jefferson and his work are made.

Those Rebels, John and Tom by Barbara Kerley does a wonderful job of comparing John Adams and Thomas Jefferson in their differing views but how they worked together as friends for the common cause of liberty for our nation. My children really enjoyed the cartoon-like illustrations!

Thomas Jefferson: Third President 1801-1809 (Getting to Know the U.S. Presidents) by Mike Venezia covers all of Jefferson's life and focuses primarily on his time as President. It combines illustrations with photographs. My children especially love the humorous illustrations!

Discover Thomas Jefferson: Architect, Inventor, President (Discovery Readers) by Patricia A. Pingry is a good easy reader for young, emerging readers. I lover having subjects overlap, so I am always looking for phonics readers that my younger children can read that related to other subject areas we are learning about. This would be good for Kindergarten or 1st grade level readers.

Best Chapter Books on Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson: Third President of the United States (Childhood of Famous Americans)
Thomas Jefferson: Third President of the United States (Childhood of Famous Americans)

My oldest son loves reading this series, which focuses on the childhood of Thomas Jefferson, and the many events that molded him into the man he became. * Also look for "Meet Thomas Jefferson" (Landmark Books) by Marvin Barrett, which is an 80 page biography that gives a nice overview of Thomas Jefferson and is perfect for children in grades 3-5.


Need Activities or Lessons on Thomas Jefferson?

Thomas Jefferson for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities (For Kids series)
Thomas Jefferson for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities (For Kids series)

Not only is this book fascinating to read because it includes so many personal tidbits about Thomas Jefferson's life, but it is interspersed with fun activities related to Jefferson's daily life. It includes directions on how to plot a map, make a simple microscope, observe the weather, make a model of solar system, cook macaroni and cheese pie, make grape juice, and more!


Our Favorite Family-Friendly Video Clips Giving an Overview of the Life and Presidency of Thomas Jefferson

When searching out YouTube video clips that provided helpful information about Jefferson and were completely child-friendly, these were our favorites.

Presidential Minute With Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson's best moments from HBO's John Adams

Discovery Education: Thomas Jefferson

"On Thomas Jefferson" (Digital Narrative Primary Source Teaching)

Looking for more lessons on Presidents or all of my unit studies and lessons?

  • President's Day Unit Study - I posted links to each of my lessons on individual Presidents here. In each lesson I included fun worksheets, children's books, YouTube clips, timelines, and recipe ideas. On this page I also included our favorite books and YouTube video clips that cover all of the Presidents of the United States.
  • Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies - Looking for all of my lessons and unit studies? Over the years I have posted over 35 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 170 lessons. For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons on this page.

Where was Thomas Jefferson buried?

Monticello Graveyard, Albemarle County, Virginia:
Monticello Graveyard, Charlottesville, VA 22902, USA

get directions

© 2012 Shannon

What first comes to mind when you think of Thomas Jefferson? - Or just let me know you dropped by. I LOVE getting feedback from you!

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