A Guide to the Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1797-1824
Born to Peter Jefferson and Jane Randolph in Shadwell, Virginia, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was the third president of the United States as well as the author of the Declaration of Independence. After his father’s death in 1757, Jefferson inherited an extensive estate and graduated from the College of William and Mary. In 1767, he started practicing law, later serving in several government positions, including as county lieutenant and a member of the House of Burgesses. Three years later, Jefferson began building his house at Monticello, Virginia, where he settled with his wife Martha Wayles Skelton, whom he married in 1772. Three years later, he was elected to the Continental Congress and selected to draft the Declaration of Independence in 1776. That same year, Jefferson left Congress and was appointed to the Virginia House of Delegates. After serving as governor of Virginia from 1779 through 1781, he became secretary of state in 1790 and vice president in 1796. Jefferson was elected president of the United States in 1801, a position he held for eight years. During his tenure as president, he purchased the Louisiana Territory and supported the expedition of Lewis and Clark. Jefferson exhibited many specimens collected by Lewis and Clark’s expedition in his friend Charles Willson Peale’s museum of natural science and art in Philadelphia. Following his retirement from public life in 1809, he sold his vast library to the government as the basis for the Library of Congress and helped establish the University of Virginia in 1825. A year later, Jefferson died at Monticello.
"Brief Biography of Thomas Jefferson." Monticello. Accessed June 27, 2011. http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/brief-biography-thomas-jefferson.
"Charles Willson Peale." Monticello. Accessed June 27, 2011. http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/charles-willson-peale.
Comprising Photostats of correspondence, sketches, and a speech, the Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1797-1824, chronicle Jefferson’s career as vice president and president of the United States as well as his relationship with Charles Willson Peale. Correspondence between Jefferson and Peale concerns the former’s portrait of George Washington and museum in Philadelphia as well as new inventions, while sketches depict zoological specimens. Additionally, a speech by Peale discusses the development of his museum.
This collection is open for research use.
Thomas Jefferson Papers, 1797-1824, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers