Thomas Jefferson symbolizes the promise and the contradictions of America's historical heritage.As the third president of the United States, a diplomat, plantation owner, architect, scientist, and philosopher, he is one of the most important figures in American history.

The writings of Thomas Jefferson are today more meaningful than ever before in America's history.You could reach into your pocket, pull out a nickel and find him gazing into the middle distance.Jefferson was born on April 13 (April 2, Old Style), 1743, at Shadwell, the most important of the tobacco plantations owned by his father Peter Jefferson, in the Virginia upcountry.

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An intelligent man, although educated, Peter Jefferson became a successful surveyor, landowner, and member of the Virginia House of Burgesses from Albemarle County.His wife Jane Randolph, a member of one of the most distinguished Virginia families.As a child, he enjoyed to the full the advantages of his family's position in life: the books, the horses, and the good life of the "Big Houses" at Tuckahoe and Shadwell.When his father died he left his fourteen-year-old son with not only valuable lands and property but the inheritance of Virginia wealth as well as loving and caring advise.Thomas not formally educated himself; he studied at Revered Mr. Maury's school, not far from Shadwell.

After two years' in the spring of 1760, he left his native Albemarle to attend William and Mary College.Jefferson gives evidence of enjoying to the party scene: the music, the dancing, the flirtations, and the punch drinking.After graduating from William and Mary in the spring of 1762, Jefferson studied law five years under George Wythe.

Knowledge of the law is essential to an understanding of governmental procedures.He became a successful lawyer starting his career.When Jefferson was turning thirty he started his political career.In January of 1772, he had ma…