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Interesting and Little-Known Facts About Thomas Jefferson

Updated on July 23, 2012

Personal Facts About Thomas Jefferson


April 13, 1743 (Goochland [now Albemarle] County, Virginia


July 4, 1826

(Jefferson died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. He was one of the last three signers still alive. At the age of 83, Thomas Jefferson suffered from a combination of illnesses and conditions including uremia, severe diarrhea, and pneumonia. His last words were, "Is it the fourth yet?" His doctor answered, ''no, not yet." Seventeen hours later, on July 4, Jefferson died.)

Political Party

Democratic Republican

Vice President(s)

Aaron Burr 1801-1805

George Clinton 1805-1812

Physical Characteristics

6 feet 2 inches

Family Members

WIFE – Martha Skelton

DAUGHTER – Martha “Patsy”

DAUGHTER – Mary “Polly”

Thomas Jefferson


Thomas Jefferson Quotes

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes, a principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.

Thomas Jefferson

Interesting Facts About Thomas Jefferson


  • The College of William and Mary (Lawyer)

Favorite Foods

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Turnip greens
  • Baked shad,
  • Virginia ham,
  • Green peas
  • Crab
  • French pastries
  • Soufflés
  • Malt drinks, wine, and Madeira

Fun Facts

  • Spoke five or six languages and could read Greek, Latin, French and English
  • Suffered from tuberculosis
  • Had red hair before it turned gray
  • Believed by many to have invented the forerunner to a wooden clothes hanger
  • Service as president not mentioned on his tombstone
  • Was the only two term-president who never vetoed a bill
  • Stumbled through speeches and hated to speak in front of an audience (John Adams said, “During the whole time I sat with him (Jefferson) in Congress, I never heard him utter three sentences together.”)
  • Suffered from vicious rumors during his first presidential campaign (Federalists said that Jefferson was a non-religious heathen, an “infidel.”)
  • Was very religious but felt that Jesus Christ was not divine

Legacy (Best Known for the Following)

  • Was well known for being deeply interested in science, invention, architecture, religion and philosophy
  • Owned and ran a plantation, Monticello
  • Member of Continental Congress, 1783-85
  • Wrote the Declaration of Independence (Jefferson wrote a passionate condemnation of slavery and blamed the British monarchy for slavery in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence. Congress stripped this portion from the Declaration of Independence fearing that southern, slave states would not join the revolution if it remained part of the document.)
  • Signed the Declaration of Independence
  • While president, doubled the size of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 (Added 828,000 square miles of territory for the mere sum of 15 million dollars, or 3 cents per acre. The acquisition included what would become present-day Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. It also included parts of Minnesota that were west of the Mississippi River, almost all of North Dakota, almost all of of South Dakota, northeastern New Mexico, northern Texas, Louisiana west of the Missippi River, and the portions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado that were east of the Continental Divide.)
  • While president, commissioned the Corps of Discovery Expedition (Lewis and Clark Expedition) of 1804-1806. (Jefferson said that the purpose of the expedition was to locate a "direct and practicable water communication across this continent, for the purposes of commerce with Asia.” Jefferson also placed special importance on acquiring an accurate sense of the resources in all of the territory that had recently been acquired in the Louisiana Purchase.)
  • Founded the University of Virginia

Military Experience

  • Colonel of Virginia militia, Albemarle County (Jefferson saw no combat.)

Presidential Firsts

  • First president to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C.

Presidential Politics

  • Added one state to the union – Ohio (1803)
  • Tripolitan War (1801-1805) (Piracy was still common practice in some part of the world at this time. America had adopted the European solution to dealing with piracy near northern Africa, paying tribute for protection. In fact, within America’s first ten years of existence, it had paid approximately 2 million dollars in tribute. When additional monetary demands were made, America refused payment. Blockades of Tripoli and the seizure of a port failed to bring the conflict to an end. Additional negotiations resulted in a treaty in 1805, but problems persisted with the other Barbary States and remained until the end of the War of 1812.)
  • Established West Point, the US Military Academy (1802)
  • Louisiana Purchase (1803) – See “Legacy” for a detailed description.
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806) - See “Legacy” for a detailed description.
  • Abolition of Slave Trade (1807) (The 1807 law ended the importation of slaves but did nothing to stop the buying and selling of slaves within the United States.)
  • Chesapeake Affair (1807) (England and France were at war with each other. Two French ships took refuge in America after being damaged by a hurricane. The Royal Navy followed the French ships and waited off the coast. At the time, the British commonly pressed American sailors into British service, and three illegally detained Americans attempted to desert in an attempt to gain their freedom. One British sailor joined the three men in enlisting on the U.S. frigate Chesapeake. The British sailor was not identified, because he had enlisted under an alias. The three American men were not returned, because they had been illegally detained for service. The HMS Leopard fired seven broadsides into the Chesapeake at extremely close range. The Chesapeake was unprepared for battle and surrendered the men. Britain would continue to press American sailors, perhaps as many as a thousand a year, into naval service up until the War of 1812.)

True or False

Thomas Jefferson fathered a child with one of his slaves.

Maybe – Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and may have fathered a child or children with one of his slaves. Genetic evidence is inconclusive, but it can be determined that somebody in Jefferson’s family did in fact father a child with Sally Hemings, one of his slaves. According to the DNA results, an individual carrying the male Jefferson Y chromosome fathered Eston Hemings (born 1808), the last known child born to Sally Hemings. However, there were approximately twenty-five adult males in the Jefferson family who carried this chromosome. Each of these men lived in Virginia at that time. Though no scientific evidence proves that Thomas Jefferson was the father, most historians believe that, years after his wife’s death, Thomas Jefferson was the father of the six children of Sally Hemings mentioned in Jefferson's records, including Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston Hemings.

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