Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was born on this day in Shadwell, Virginia to a prominent Virginia family.
He attended private schools, graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1762, and was admitted to the bar to practice law in 1767. During this time, the scholar took an interest in writing and politics.
"All authority belongs to the people," he once said.
Incredibly, the gifted Jefferson was only 33 when he became a delegate to the Continental Congress and drafted the Declaration of Independence. As the third President of the U.S., he was the first to be inaugurated in Washington D.C., which he helped design.
Jefferson's greatest accomplishment during his administration (1801-1809) was the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 that he bought from Napoléon Bonaparte of France at a cost of $15 million and included land that extended from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains.
"Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong," he believed.
An accomplished inventor and musician, Jefferson believed in democracy and justice. "It is reasonable," he said, "that every one who asks for justice should do justice."
In his later years, Jefferson retired to his home in Monticello and died on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
More Thomas JEFFERSON Quotations
Power's greatness is defined by its restraint.