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Thomas Jefferson

3rd President of the United States (1801-1809)

Thomas Jefferson portrait
Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States
Painted 1800 by Rembrandt Peale in Philadelphia

The President of the United States serves as the head of the Executive Branch of our United States Government. Over forty men have been privileged to serve in this role.

The portrait of 57 year-old Thomas Jefferson to the right was painted by Rembrandt Peale, a U.S. neoclassical painter also known for his portraits of George Washington. This portrait was painted in 1800, in the small Philadelphia studio of the young Rembrandt Peale. It later became the source of the most extensively distributed image of Jefferson during the eight years of his Presidency.

When this portrait was painted, Thomas Jefferson was serving as Vice President to the 2nd President of the United States, John Adams.

The original portrait belongs to the White House Historical Association and is part of their White House Collection.

Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826)
Date of birth: April 13, 1743
Birth place: Shadwell plantation, Goochland County, Virginia
Mother: Jane Randolph
Father: Peter Jefferson
Education: College of William and Mary (graduated 1762)
Profession: Lawyer, Planter
Religion: No formal affiliation
Marriage: January 1, 1772, to Martha Wayles Skelton (1748-1782)
Children: Martha (1772-1836), Jane Randolph (1774-1775), infant son (1777), Mary (1778-1804), Lucy Elizabeth (1780-1781), Lucy Elizabeth (1782-1785)
Political party: Democratic-Republican
Presidential term: 1801-1809
Nickname(s): "Man of the People," "Sage of Monticello"
Date of death: July 4, 1826
Place of death: Monticello, near Charlottesville, Virginia
Resting place: Monticello, near Charlottesville, Virginia
Source: The Whitehouse, www.whitehouse.gov, August 16, 2007
Source: Miller Center of Public Affairs, The University of Virginia, www.millercenter.virginia.edu, August 16, 2007
Source: The National Portrait Gallery, The Smithsonian Institution, www.npg.si.edu, August 16, 2007

Thomas Jefferson's presidency 1801-1809

  • March 4, 1801: Thomas Jefferson is inaugurated as the third president of the United States, becoming the first president inaugurated in Washington, D.C. Aaron Burr, who had tied Jefferson in electoral votes before losing the election in the House of Representatives, is inaugurated Vice President.
  • May 14, 1801: Yusuf Karamini, pasha of Tripoli, declares war on the United States by symbolically cutting down the flagpole at the U.S. consulate. This action came after the United States refused to pay more tribute to the Tripolitans in exchange for protection from piracy against American ships.
  • July 10, 1801: William C.C. Claiborne is appointed the new territorial governor of Mississippi.
  • December 8, 1801: President Jefferson delivers his first address to the newly convened seventh Congress of the United States in writing and is read aloud by the House clerk. Expressing his dislike for ceremony, Jefferson establishes the precedent, not broken until the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, of not delivering the State of the Union address in person.
  • January 8, 1802: A convention between the United States and Britain regarding the treaty of 1794 is concluded. A commission rules that the United States owes £2,664, 000 to British citizens in settlement of Revolutionary War claims.
  • February 6, 1802: Congress recognizes the War with Tripoli, authorizing the arming of merchant ships to ward off attacks.
  • March 16, 1802: Congress reduces the size of the U.S. army to its 1796 limits. It also passes an act, which is signed into law by Jefferson, establishing an official United States Military Academy at West Point.
  • April 6, 1802: Infamous excise taxes on commodities such as whiskey are repealed.
  • April 14, 1802: The notorious naturalization laws of 1798 are repealed. The required length of residency reverts from fourteen years to five years.
  • April 24, 1802: The Georgia legislature cedes to the United States its western territory, notorious for the Yazoo land fraud of 1795.
  • April 30, 1802: President Jefferson signs the Enabling Act, establishing procedures under which territories organized under the Ordinance of 1787 can become a state. The law effectively authorizes people of the Ohio territory to hold a convention and frame a constitution.
  • May 3, 1802: Congress officially incorporates Washington as a city, empowering Jefferson to appoint the mayor.
  • August 11, 1802: The United States and Spain resolve to refer all disputes between the two countries to a special convention at Madrid.
  • January 11, 1803: Jefferson appoints James Monroe minister to France and Spain, instructing him to purchase New Orleans and East and West Florida. Napoleon informs U.S. minister in Paris Robert Livingston that France will be willing to sell the entire Louisiana territory, much to his surprise.
  • February 19, 1803: Ohio officially becomes the seventeenth state of the Union. It is the first state to prohibit slavery by law at its inception.
  • April 19, 1803: Spain reopens New Orleans to American merchants.
  • April 30, 1803: Livingston and Monroe are sent to conclude a treaty for the acquisition of New Orleans, but instead conclude a treaty for the purchase of the entire Louisiana Territory. This day marks the official signing of a peace treaty with France and the purchase of Louisiana. The addition of 828,000 square miles of land between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains is purchased from France for approximately $15 million, increasing the national territory by 140 percent.
  • May 23, 1803: Jefferson commissions Commodore Edward Preble as commander of a U.S. Navy squadron sent to battle Tripoli.
  • August 31, 1803: Captain Merriweather Lewis, formerly Jefferson’s personal secretary, sets out from Pittsburgh to begin an expedition of the newly acquired western territory of the Louisiana Purchase. Lewis will pick up Captain William Clark to serve as co-leader of the trip early in the next year. Jefferson sponsored the journey out of personal scientific curiosity and concern for the economic and political security of the western United States.
  • December 9, 1803: Motivated by the infamous election of 1800, Congress passes the Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution, requiring electors to vote for President and vice president separately. This ends the tradition of the runner up in a presidential race becoming vice president and prevents chances for a deadlock tie.
  • December 20, 1803: The French flag is lowered in New Orleans and the U.S. flag raised, symbolizing the transfer of the Louisiana territory from France to the United States.
  • February 16, 1804: Lt. Stephen Decatur burns the captured U.S. frigate Philadelphia while docked in Tripoli harbor. Tripolitan gunboats had captured the frigate during the previous October. No one is killed.
  • March 26, 1804: Congress passes the Louisiana Territory Act, dividing the Louisiana Purchase into the Territory of Orleans in the south and the district of Louisiana in the north.
  • July 11, 1804: Alexander Hamilton is fatally wounded in a pistol duel with Aaron Burr. Hamilton had opposed Burr’s bid for the presidency in 1800. He further opposed Burr’s bid for the governorship of New York, exposing an alleged subversive attempt to establish a separate northern confederacy amongst disgruntled states of New England. Vowing to avenge these dishonors, Burr had challenged Hamilton to the duel.
  • September 25, 1804: The Twelfth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is officially ratified, allowing for the presidential election of 1804 to be conducted under new rules.
  • November 13, 1804: The fifth presidential election is held under the auspices of the newly ratified Twelfth Amendment.
  • December 5, 1804: Thomas Jefferson is officially reelected President of the United States. Fellow Democratic-Republican and first governor of New York George Clinton will be the vice president.
  • March 4, 1805: President Jefferson is inaugurated for his second term. George Clinton officially succeeds Aaron Burr as vice president. In his inaugural address, Jefferson proposes that Federalist-inspired internal taxes be completely eliminated.
  • April 26, 1805: Lewis and Clark reach the mouth of the Yellowstone River.
  • April 27, 1805: U.S. Marines and Arab mercenaries capture the Tripolitan port city of Derna, achieving a major victory for the United States in the Tripolitan War. Eaton’s ultimate plan, approved by President Jefferson, entailed replacing the ruling pasha of Tripoli with the rightful ruler. This is aborted with the forthcoming peace treaty in June.
  • June 4, 1805: The United States and Tripoli sign a Treaty of Peace and Amity in Tripoli, effectively ending the Tripolitan War.
  • July 23, 1805: The British justify seizure of American ships in neutral ports with the invocation of the Rule of 1756.
  • July 23, 1805: Rumors circulate about the subversive activities of Aaron Burr as he arrives in New Orleans. These include plans to establish a separate country with New Orleans as its capital and a plot to invade Mexico.
  • November 7, 1805: Lewis and Clark reach the Pacific after a perilous journey of nearly eighteen months and 4,000 miles.
  • December 3-4, 1805: Jefferson makes two addresses, one public and one before Congress, regarding land in Florida. In the public address, Jefferson cites the need to prepare for war with Spain. Privately, Jefferson informs Congress of secret negotiations with France in order to buy the territory from them and asks for five million dollars to be appropriated. The request receives a controversial response from Congress.
  • January 11, 1806: Michigan is formed from the territory of Indiana.
  • March 9, 1806: Congress authorizes a commission to build a national road from Cumberland, Maryland, to the Ohio River.
  • April 18, 1806: In protest against the seizure of American ships and the impressment of American sailors by Britain, Congress passes a law prohibiting the importation of many British products into the United States.
  • July 15, 1806: Zebulon Pike begins his exploration of what is now the southwestern United States. On November 15, Pike explores the famous 18,000-foot peak that still retains his name in what is now Colorado.
  • August 27, 1806: American envoys James Monroe and William Pinckney commence talks with British official Lord Holland on the current naval hostilities.
  • December 12, 1806: Jefferson appeals to Congress asking for a ban on the slave trade.
  • October 21, 1806: Congress passes legislation providing for a military organizational structure.
  • November 27, 1806: n Washington, D.C., President Jefferson publicly warns citizens not to take part in a plot to invade Spanish territory. Jefferson issues this warning after having been told of Aaron Burr’s subversive activities with respect to annexing Spanish territory.
  • February 19, 1807: Aaron Burr is arrested near Fort Stoddart, Alabama, in connection with his alleged conspiracy against the government.
  • March 2, 1807: At Jefferson’s behest, Congress passes a law prohibiting the importation of slaves into any place within the jurisdiction of the United States after January 1, 1808.
  • March 12, 1807: The Embargo Act, modified and authorized by President Jefferson, now permits vessels to transport American goods from foreign ports.
  • June 22, 1807: The infamous Leopard incident occurs. The British ship Leopard fires upon the United States frigate Chesapeake in Chesapeake Bay after the latter’s commander, James Barron, refuses to surrender four British deserters on board. Many on the U.S. frigate are killed and wounded.
  • September 1, 1807: Circuit court in Richmond acquits Aaron Burr of treason.
  • October 17, 1807: In spite of Thomas Jefferson’s vehement protest, the British government announces it will continue to impress seamen on American ships thought to be British.
  • November 11, 1807: Britain issues its “Order in Council,” forbidding neutral nations and her allies from trading with France except under tribute to England.
  • December 17, 1807: Napoleon issues the Milan Decree, forbidding trade with England or her colonies under penalty of confiscation and impressments of any vessel paying tribute to Britain.
  • December 22, 1807: President Jefferson signs the Embargo Act, putting a halt to all trading with any country in the entire world. The act serves as a retaliatory measure to the increasingly coercive trade policies of the British and the French.
  • January 1, 1808: The law officially banning the slave trade goes into effect.
  • January 11, 1808: The Second Embargo Act comes into force. It is more stringent than the first and is commonly known as the “O grab me Act.”
  • April 17, 1808: Napoleon issues the Bayonne Decree, authorizing the French seizure of all U.S. vessels entering French and Italian ports and all ports of the Hanseatic League. Napoleon conveniently argues that his action helps the United States enforce its new policy prohibiting trade with other nations.
  • November 8, 1808: The sixth presidential election for President of the United States is held.
  • December 7, 1808: James Madison is elected president of the United States, with George Clinton as vice president.
  • March 1, 1809: After the U.S. economy suffers at the hands of the embargo, Congress repeals the Embargo Act. Jefferson signs the Non-Intercourse Act the same day, closing U.S. ports only to France and England. Trade with the two countries is to be resumed when they agreed to respect the rights of U.S. citizens and vessels.
  • March 4, 1809: James Madison is inaugurated as the fourth President of the United States, thereby ending Jefferson’s presidency. Jefferson retires to his home at Monticello outside Charlottesville, Virginia, to assume a private life.

Source: Miller Center of Public Affairs, The University of Virginia, www.millercenter.virginia.edu, August 16, 2007

Thomas Jefferson's cabinet
Vice President: Aaron Burr (1801-1805), George Clinton (1805/-1809)
Secretary of State: James Madison (1801-1809)
Secretary of War: Henry Dearborn (1801-1809)
Postmaster General: Joseph Habersham (1801), Gideon Granger (1801-1809)
Secretary of the Treasury: Samuel Dexter (1801), Albert Gallatin (1801-1809)
Attorney General: Levi Lincoln (1801-1804), John Breckingridge (1805-1806), Caesar A. Rodney (1807-1809)
Secretary of the Navy: Benjamin Stoddert (1801), Robert Smith (1801-1805), Jacob Crowninshield (1805), Robert Smith (1805-1809)
Source: Miller Center of Public Affairs, The University of Virginia, www.millercenter.virginia.edu, August 16, 2007

Thomas Jefferson Presidential $1 Coin — Third President, 1801-1809

Thomas Jefferson Presidential Coin
U.S. Mint image

Sometimes referred to as the "silent member" of the Continental Congress, Thomas Jefferson spoke volumes with his pen. He drafted the Declaration of Independence at the age of 33, and later succeeded Benjamin Franklin as America’s foreign minister to France.

During his first term as President, Thomas Jefferson virtually doubled the size of the United States when his Administration successfully completed the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and commissioned the Lewis & Clark Expedition to explore the new territory. The United States Mint’s recent Westward Journey Nickel Series™ marked the bicentennial of these important events.

At the end of his Presidency, Jefferson retired to Monticello, where he worked to establish the University of Virginia in nearby Charlottesville. In March 1825, the school opened to serve its first 123 students.

Coinage Legislation under President Thomas Jefferson

Act of March 3, 1803: This Act directs the location of the United States Mint to remain in Philadelphia for five years.

Act of April 10, 1806: This Act authorizes certain gold and silver coinage from foreign countries as legal tender for the payment of all debts within the United States.

Act of April 21, 1806: This Act establishes the penalty for counterfeiting both foreign and domestic coins to be between three and ten years hard labor.

Act of April 1, 1808: This Act continues to fix the location of the United States Mint in Philadelphia for five more years.

United States Mint Directors appointed by President Jefferson

  • 1806: Robert Patterson — Fourth Director of the United States Mint.

Thomas Jefferson’s Liberty First Spouse $10 Gold Coin - (1801–1809)

U.S. Mint image
Liberty (reverse)
U.S. Mint image

The Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 contains a provision to provide continuity of the First Spouse Gold Coin Program during those times in which a President served without a First Spouse. This provision applies to Thomas Jefferson, whose wife Martha died in 1782. Married in 1772, Thomas Jefferson was a widower for 19 years when he became President in 1801.

The gold coins issued to accompany any President who served without a spouse will each feature a design emblematic of Liberty on its obverse, as depicted on a United States coin originally issued during the President’s time in office. For Thomas Jefferson’s presidency, the selected image appeared on the Draped Bust Half-Cent coin from 1800–1808, and was originally executed by United States Mint Chief Engraver Robert Scot.

Reverse Design

Thomas Jefferson is widely recognized for his unmatched expertise with the written word. Even in death, Jefferson left no room for interpretation, leaving careful and precise instructions detailing exactly which of his achievements would be memorialized on his final resting place.

Located on the grounds of his Monticello estate, his monument 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."

Source: The United States Mint, www.usmint.gov, August 16, 2007

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