Thomas Jefferson is of course best known for being one of the founding fathers of the United States. He wrote much of the Declaration of Independence and served as the third President. He was a politician, but his political actions and beliefs were greatly influenced by his basic philosophical beliefs. In fact, Jefferson was a member and, for a time, the president of the American Philosophical Association.
Much of his writing described abstract principles as opposed to concrete political doctrines. Jefferson was a defender of democracy, and he argued for a will of the people. But he also realized that the majority could abuse those not in agreement with them, and so he was one of the first defenders of civil rights in America. Unfortunately, his belief that “all men are created equal” didn’t extend to non-white men, as he was a slave owner all his life. Despite this hypocrisy, his philosophical arguments for freedom put forth in the Declaration were eventually used by others in various human rights movements that extended civil rights farther than they had ever been.
Interesting Facts About Thomas Jefferson
- He was an early archaeologist. Jefferson collected fossils and was obsessed with animals, especially the mammoth.
- He was an architect. Aside from his Monticello home, which took him nearly 40 years to complete, Jefferson was obsessed with building things—and not only as a hobby.
- He was a wine aficionado. He is recognized as one of the great wine experts of early America and even kept two vineyards at Monticello.
- In addition to wine, French food inspired Jefferson’s palate, from the cooking within his home to his presidential dinner parties. Some of America’s most beloved foods, like ice cream, mac ‘n’ cheese and french fries were popularized after his interests permeated to the rest of the country.
- It’s highly likely that Jefferson had the largest personal collection of books in the United States at the time. After the Library of Congress was raided by the British in 1814, Jefferson offered his personal library, which contained almost 6,500 volumes, as a replacement.
Quotes By Thomas Jefferson
- The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
- Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.
- Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep forever.
- I cannot live without books.
- No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
- I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.
- Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.
- One man with courage is a majority.
- 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.