10 Fascinating Facts About Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was an interesting character, he could be described as a man of enlightenment, the 3rd of 10 siblings, he was born on April 13, 1743. On March 4, 1801, Thomas Jefferson was elected president of the United States. He was the third president of United states until his second term was completed on March 4, 1809, he played a significant role in US history. History has it that he was astoundingly intelligent and very knowledgeable having functioned as a polymath with talents as a politician, lawyer, archeologist, horticulturist, architect, farmer, philosopher, paleontologist, revolutionary and inventor. Jefferson could be regarded as a Renaissance man whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. Thomas Jefferson went to college at William and Mary. There he studied law and practiced as a lawyer between 1768 and 1773. Jefferson’s first wife was Martha Wayles Skelton, they were married on January 1, 1772. They had six children out of which only two lived past adulthood. Now, lets look at some other fascinating facts Thomas Jefferson had during his stay on this earth.

What You Didn’t Know About Thomas Jefferson

1. Man of the People

Do you know why Jefferson was called “the man of the people?” It’s said that he greeted people at the White House in a robe and slippers. This informal attire earned him the nickname “man of the people.” Thomas Jefferson is well known for his informalities in hosting guests at the White House. “The Sage of Monticello” portrayed an image that earned him a second nickname, “Man of the People”. Although a foremost defender of a free press, Jefferson at times sparred with partisan newspapers and appealed to the people. Jefferson was the first president to actually shake the hands of constituents’ when he met them instead of simply bowing. This made him much more approachable and personable than his predecessors.

2. Thomas Jefferson has a unique Grave

What’s Inscribed on Jefferson’s Grave? Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States. You would have thought this would be the first thing you will see on his tombstone, but you would be wrong and that’s perhaps the most boring thing you are going to read as we go on. Jefferson chose three major accomplishments to be remembered for and recorded on his tombstone, and being president didn’t even make his list. These are the three things inscribed on Jefferson’s tombstone: Author of the Declaration of Independence, author of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia. Not a mention of being president of the United States. Some beleive that his presidency was not mentioned because he had such mixed feelings concerning politics, well, it’s something to think about, isn’t it?.

(Image: Bloggingblue.com)

3. An Awful Money Manager

Thomas Jefferson was highly intelligent but had a fault. Jefferson knew several languages. He was an inventor, he played several instruments, he was an architect but it was reported that Jefferson lived perpetually beyond his means, Jefferson spends large amounts of money on furnishings, wines and construction projects. He was in debt most of his life because he was an awful money manager. Jefferson’s poor money management kept him in debt most of his adult life right through to his death. Perhaps the financial panic that took place in 1819 contributed significantly towards his already-substantial debt, this is coupled with the fact that he also acquired debt from a friend in particular later in life.

IMAGE: Detail of Jefferson portrait on the two-dollar bill via Encyclopediavirginia.org

4. Did Jefferson like books? More than that, He Loved Books

Jefferson Loved and Cherished books, he was an avid and intelligent reader. It was reported that when British troops attacked the US Library of Congress, in 1814. All the books were burned and Jefferson offered to replace them with books from his own personal library. The library was rebuilt in 1815 and Jefferson did as he promised. When the library reopened it had been restocked with 6,587 books, all from Jefferson’s personal library. (Image: Stock photo via depositphotos)

5. A Private Person but Man of Many Skills

Thomas Jefferson was extremely skilled when it came to learning and writing, but he couldn’t produce the same result when it came to public speaking. Even though his speeches were well written. This is what is known of Jefferson, he was a private man who kept his personal life to himself, but despite keeping to himself, there are 18,000 of his letters that can be found in the public forum today. This “man of letters”— is learned in all disciplines, he has been described as a true visionary. Jefferson authored a book called, Notes on the State of Virginia, and edited the New Testament of the bible into a volume he considered more believable, removing the parts about all the miracles of Jesus and keeping what he believed to be the moral teachings of Jesus. There were so many other achievements BUT

Jefferson could not deliver when it came to speaking in front of crowds. It’s this fear that made him avoid the spotlight and drove him to be a private individual. It should be noted that this fear motivated him to send the State of the Union message to Congress in writing; a tradition that stayed in place until 1913.

Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale: (1805) Source: New York Historical Society

6. Publicly Opposed to Slavery

In 1783 Jefferson presented a bill to outlaw slavery, but he owned slaves. Jefferson is said to have owned over 600 slaves and bore five children with a slave named Sally Hemings. In 1807, Jefferson finally achieved his goal of abolishing slavery and signed the bill. So, was Jefferson a hypocrite? It is believed because of debt, Jefferson was unable to free his slaves until he paid back the debt. Jefferson was in debt until he died. (Image: Isaac Jefferson, slave, 1775-1853, blackpast.org.)

7. What do Jefferson and John Adams have in common?

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were two former US presidents and founding fathers that eventually became enemies for years, Adams preceded Jefferson as president (1797-1800). Later in life they reconciled but shortly after, Jefferson died on July 4, 1826. This was 50 years after the US Declaration of Independence. Here’s the kicker. Adams died on the same day, and Jefferson died just a few hours before Adams, five hours to be more precise – exactly on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. History has it that On July 4, 1826, at the age of 90, John Adams lay on his deathbed while his country celebrated Independence Day. Adams last words were Thomas Jefferson still survives but he was mistaken: The younger Jefferson had given up the ghost earlier at Monticello at the age of 82 (Image: Jefferson and Adams,  Todd E. Creason)

8. A Vegetarian

Thomas Jefferson was a vegetarian, (almost). In today’s standards, Jefferson would not be considered a “true vegetarian,” but he was close enough. He loved peas and lettuce. In his worldly travels, he would collect seeds and cultivate them in his garden at the Monticello complex. Vegetables were Jefferson’s primary diet; he ate little animal food. The garden consists of 260 vegetables and over 180 fruits.

Vegetables by Mike Haller via Flickr

9. An American Inventor

Thomas Jefferson invented the swivel chair. Jefferson was an avid inventor and some say he invented the swivel chair, while others say he made improvements. Either way, Jefferson had a knack for science, Technology, Innovation and inventions as a means to advance social progress. One of his favorite devices was a rotating bookstand that could hold up to five books at once.

Thomas Jefferson Inventions

10. Thomas Jefferson and french fries.

Jefferson introduced the french fries to mainstream America by serving it in the Monticello in 1802. Even though there was a circle of fear centering around the notion that a potato was poisonous, Jefferson dispelled that myth by frequently serving his version of the french fries without incident. As mentioned, Thomas Jefferson passed away at home, in his bed, on July 4, 1826. His legacy was highlighted by being one of the founders of the Deceleration of Independence.

He truly had the foresight, he said: “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” Was he right?

Amira Daniel
Amira is a personal finance and entertainment writer by trade with several years of experience covering businesses, CEOs, and celebrity profiles, her favourite subjects include business and personal finance, entertainment, celebrities, and travel. When she's not writing, you can find her reading or catching up on any of her favourite series


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