Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 and grew up on the family
plantation at Shadwell in Albermarle County, Virginia. His father, Peter Jefferson owned thirty slaves and a tobacco and wheat farm. Thomas was the third of ten children. He learned to speak French, Greek and Latin. He enjoyed politics, mathematics and practicing the violin. When
Jefferson was fourteen his father died, leaving him their entire estate. After he
graduated in 1762 from College of William and Mary, Jefferson began to study law under George Wythe. In April 1764, Jefferson gained control of his father's estate and was named justice of the peace and vestryman.
Early in 1767, Jefferson became a member of the bar of the state of Virginia.
He became a lawyer and practiced law eight years until the Revolutionary War. On January 1, 1772 Jefferson married Martha Wayles Skelton, who was the daughter of John Wayles, a rich Williamsburg lawyer. In May of 1769 Jefferson took his seat as a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. Jefferson was only twenty-six years old.
In 1776, Jefferson resigned his seat in congress because of the failing
health of his wife. He had again been elected a member of the Virginia legislature, and he worked on the unsuitable laws, and bringing the laws of Virginia up to the level of the Declaration. Jefferson procured the abolition of entails and led the fight for the disestablishment of the Church.
While in Congress Jefferson made two contributions. In April 1784 he submitted
a proposition on the establishment of a money unit and of a coinage for the country in
which he advised the use of a decimal system. This led to the dollar, rather than the pound, as the basic monetary unit in the United States.
Jefferson became chairman of the committee dealing with the government of
Western lands. He proposed the ordinance of 1784, which stated that the western territories should be self-governing and joi…