Curator's Corner Blog

Happy Birthday Jefferson!

In celebration of Thomas Jefferson’s April 13th Birthday our HMFM interns wrote a short biography and found Jefferson within the HMFM Collections.

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On April 13, 1743 at Shadwell, Virginia Thomas Jefferson was born. Thomas Jefferson would grow up to be one of the most influential people in the making of America. He was the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, the founder of the University of Virginia, and the third president of the United States (1801-1809).

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Jefferson was known as an “arm chair” adventurer because of his interest in the frontier. Jefferson desired for the social and economic structure of the United States to be built upon small agricultural farmers. He saw the west as an opportunity for the new country to expand the land available for farming. In 1803 President Jefferson signed the Louisiana Purchase with France. The Louisiana Purchase was a land deal where the U.S. bought 827,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River for $15 million dollars. Napoleon had originally wanted to restore French power in the New World, but his plans were going to rot. A slave and free black rebellion in the French colony of Saint Domingue (Haiti) required Napoleon to send the French army to quell the uprising. The French army suffered heavily losses from yellow fever. Napoleon also feared that a war with Britain was on the horizon.

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After acquiring the large parcel of land, Thomas Jefferson commissioned the Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore the Northwest Territory. Jefferson wanted the men to discover a transcontinental route and identify the natural resources. Jefferson chose Meriwether Lewis because of his knowledge of the military and frontier. Lewis and Jefferson also were family friends and former neighbors. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left in 1804 with 45 men to paddle the Missouri River, traverse the Rocky Mountains, and from the Columbia River they saw the Pacific Ocean by November 1805. The men returned to St. Louis in September 1806 and they brought with them information about the native people, plants and animals, and geography.

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At the end of his life, Jefferson wanted his tomb to state what he had given to the people and not what the people had given to him. And so on his epitaph it states:

HERE WAS BURIED
THOMAS JEFFERSON
AUTHOR OF THE
DECLARATION
OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE
OF THE
STATUTE OF VIRGINIA
FOR
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
AND FATHER OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
BORN APRIL 2, 1743 O.S. DIED JULY 4. 1826

On April 13, 1743 at Shadwell, Virginia Thomas Jefferson was born. Thomas Jefferson would grow up to be one of the most influential people in the making of America. He was the author of the Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, the founder of the University of Virginia, and the third president of the United States (1801-1809).

Jefferson was known as an “arm chair” adventurer because of his interest in the frontier. Jefferson desired for the social and economic structure of the United States to be built upon small agricultural farmers. He saw the west as an opportunity for the new country to expand the land available for farming. In 1803 President Jefferson signed the Louisiana Purchase with France. The Louisiana Purchase was a land deal where the U.S. bought 827,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River for $15 million dollars. Napoleon had originally wanted to restore French power in the New World, but his plans were going to rot. A slave and free black rebellion in the French colony of Saint Domingue (Haiti) required Napoleon to send the French army to quell the uprising. The French army suffered heavily losses from yellow fever. Napoleon also feared that a war with Britain was on the horizon.

After acquiring the large parcel of land, Thomas Jefferson commissioned the Lewis and Clark Expedition to explore the Northwest Territory. Jefferson wanted the men to discover a transcontinental route and identify the natural resources. Jefferson chose Meriwether Lewis because of his knowledge of the military and frontier. Lewis and Jefferson also were family friends and former neighbors. Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left in 1804 with 45 men to paddle the Missouri River, traverse the Rocky Mountains, and from the Columbia River they saw the Pacific Ocean by November 1805. The men returned to St. Louis in September 1806 and they brought with them information about the native people, plants and animals, and geography.

 

At the end of his life, Jefferson wanted his tomb to state what he had given to the people and not what the people had given to him. And so on his epitaph it states:

HERE WAS BURIED
THOMAS JEFFERSON
AUTHOR OF THE
DECLARATION
OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE
OF THE
STATUTE OF VIRGINIA
FOR
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
AND FATHER OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
BORN APRIL 2, 1743 O.S. DIED JULY 4. 1826

Thomas Jefferson’s role in the early develop of United States resulted in lasting effects because the Declaration of Independence declared the 13 colonies a free and independent country which we still are today. Here in Montana we can still see evidence of Thomas Jefferson’s presidency. The Lewis and Clark expedition toured through the future Montana territory and across the state there are monuments and places named after the men. The Lewis and Clark expedition began the movement of the American people westward. The fur trappers first led westward expansion, but the discovery of precious metals and the Homestead Act quickly increased the number of white settlers as they sought to complete Manifest Destiny.

http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/thomas-jefferson-brief-biography

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