most brilliant menin history. His interests were boundless, and his accomplishments were great and varied. He wasa philosopher, educator, naturalist, politician, scientist, architect, inventor, pioneer in scientificfarming, musician, and writer, and was the foremost spokesmen for democracy in his day.
He was born at Shadwell in Goochland County, Virginia on April 13, 1743, to JaneRandolph and Peter Jefferson. Jefferson Graduated from the college of William and Mary in 1760(Adams, Page #26). His interest in science was fostered by Dr. William Small, teacher ofmathematics and philosophy, who introduced him to Gov. Francis Fauquier and to George Wythe,then the most noted teacher of law in Virginia. To ?habitual conversation? with these friendsJefferson said he ?owed much instruction? (Dos Passos, Page #102).
In 1767 Jefferson was admitted to the bar and began practicing law in the capitol (Adams,Page #43). Jefferson was elected justice of the peace and church vestryman in 1768. In May ofthe next year he was elected to the House of Burgesses, in which he served until the house ceaseto function in 1775. He was appointed county lieutenant of Albemarle in 1770 and the same yearcompleted the building of his new home, Monticello. Two years later he married, January 1, 1772,Martha Skelton, a widow who was both attractive and accomplished, the daughter of JohnWayles, a well known lawyer, and just before the College of William and Mary appointed himsurveyor of the county in 1773 (Adams, Page #46-47). Jefferson’s most remarkable contribution in legislative work before the Revolution camethrough work on committees and though such writings as his paper to the Virginia Convention, ASummary View of the Rights of British America. In defining the grievances with Great Britain,Jefferson denied that Parliament had any authority over the colonies, and he attacked therestrictive acts passed by Parliament as a deliberate plan to destroy colonial freedom. Jeffersonalso accused the king of rejecting the best laws passed by colonial legislatures, of preventing theoutlaw of slavery, of permitting his governors to break up colonial assemblies, and of sendingarmed forces without right to do so(Dos Passos, Page #169). On June 21, 1775 he was given aseat in the Continental Congress, appointed to the committee to draft the Declaration ofIndependence, and he was chosen by the committee to write the declaration because of his?peculiar felicity of style.? The Declaration of Independence was formally adopted on July 4,1776 (Conlin Page #141-144).In 1776 Jefferson was elected to the Virginia legislature, giving up his seat in theContinental Congress and declining an offer to serve with Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane ascommissioners to France, mostly because of personal reasons having to do with his family, butalso, because he felt he could best serve the revolutionary cause by furthering the reformation ofVirginia ( Adams, Page #98-99). He then served three years in the house of delegates. Whilethere he began the revision of the laws of Virginia. His most noteworthy achievement during thistime was his proposal of the Statute for Religious Freedom, which stated in Jefferson’s ownwords, ?that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place orministry whatsoever?, and that no one should suffer in any way for their ?religious opinions orbeliefs.? The bill was eventually adopted in 1786. Jefferson also had succeeded in the of passingbills to abolish primogeniture and entail. Although never passed, his Bill of Universal Diffusion ofKnowledge, set forth a philosophy of providing free public schooling for all citizens (AdamsPage #104-110).During this period, Jefferson managed to spend considerable time with his family, buteven in leisure he was never idle. He took up building projects at Monticello and continued todevelop his land. Jefferson was a philosopher and at the same time an architect and inventor. Heinvented the dumbwaiter, a swivel chair, a lamp-heater, and an improved plow for which theFrench gave him a medal. He tinkered with clocks, steam engines, and metronomes. He collectedplans of large cities and later helped in the planning of Washington, DC. Jefferson kept an oversea correspondence with Giovanni Fabbroni, an Italian naturalist, in order to compare climate andplant life in Virginia and southern Europe. He added to his valuable collection of books andbought instruments for making astronomical observations. He also