Thomas Jefferson

Essay by xoxojamerzoxox April 2003

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Twenty-five years before he became President, Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Two years before that, he had written A Summary View of the Rights of British America, protesting laws passed by British Parliament.

"Let no law be passed by any one legislature," he wrote, "which may step on the rights and liberties or another... The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time."

Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13th 1743 in Goochland County, Virginia. His parents were Peter and Jane Randoplh Jefferson. He was a brilliant student. He attended William and Mary College, where h read books by great English and French authors who wrote about liberty for all people. This was not a common belief in those days. After Jefferson graduated from college, he studied law. He became a member of the Virginia legislature and was a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1775.

The Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, which Jefferson mostly wrote. When the Congress ended, Jefferson returned to Virginia.

When Virginia was an English colony, a law had been passed that forbade people to attend any church except the Church of England. Jefferson suggested a new law to the state legislature, stating that "all men should be free to have their own religious opinions and that people should not harmed, restrained, or... otherwise made to suffer on account of their beliefs."

Jefferson also felt that slavery was wrong. He believed that a person had the right to freedom no matter what his or her abilities, education, of social status might be. He tried to keep slavery out of the new lands that were added to the United States. Despite his attitude toward slavery, Jefferson owned slaves all his life. But he left...