3rd President of the United States
In Office: March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1809
Thomas Jefferson was chosen in 1776 to draft the Declaration of Independence, which has been regarded ever since as a charter of American and universal liberties. The document proclaims that all men are equal in rights, regardless of birth, wealth, or status, and that the government is the servant, not the master, of the people.
In 1790 he accepted the post of secretary of state under George Washington. His tenure was marked by his opposition to the pro-British policies of Alexander Hamilton. In 1796, as the presidential candidate of the Democratic Republicans, he became vice-president after losing to John Adams by three electoral votes.
Four years later, he defeated Adams and became president. Perhaps the most notable achievements of his first term were the purchase of the Louisiana Territory in 1803 and his support of the Lewis and Clark expedition. His second term, a time when he encountered more difficulties on both the domestic and foreign fronts, is most remembered for his efforts to maintain neutrality in the midst of the conflict between Britain and France; his efforts did not avert war with Britain in 1812.
Jefferson was succeeded as president in 1809 by his friend James Madison. He died on July 4, 1826, just hours before John Adams, on the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. He was eighty-three years old,