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Thomas Jefferson

Important Terms, People and Events

Summary

Timeline

Terms

Alien and Sedition Acts  -   · The Alien and Sedition Acts were a pair of laws passed under the Adams Administration to draw attention away from the XYZ Affair. All criticism and dissent against the sitting government were outlawed, forcing opponents to air their objections anonymously. These measures sparked Jefferson into publishing the Kentucky Resolutions under an assumed name.
Anglican Church  -   · The Anglican Church was organized under King Henry VIII in 1534 after the Roman Catholic Church failed to grant him a divorce from his wife Catherine of Aragon. As the official religion of England, Anglicanism quickly gained a prominent place within the Protestant hierarchy, and continued to exercise its influence in the American colonies. Today, the Episcopalian Church functions as the American wing of the Anglican Church.
Anti-Federalist -   · An Anti-Federalist was opposed to the strong centralized government structure provided under the Constitution. Such a thinker would have supported a looser organization of political power, as detailed by the Articles of Confederation (See the Articles of Confederation SparkNote).
Articles of Confederation -   · The Articles of Confederation laid out the plan for the loose system of government originally assumed by the United States from 1781 to 1789, before the Constitution officially replaced it as the fundamental document of political organization. (See the Articles of Confederation SparkNote)
Assumption Plan -   · The Assumption Plan, arrived at by Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton in 1791, was an arrangement that provided for the federal government to forgive all outstanding state debts in exchange for the relocation of the government seat from Philadelphia to its present site in Washington, D.C.
Bank of the United States -   · The Bank of the United States was a centralized federal institution devoted to the control of the national economy. Originally conceived by Alexander Hamilton, it fell in and out of favor in the ensuing decades, supported by advocates of strong government and decried by those who valued local and state rights. The fiercest opponent of the National Bank was Andrew Jackson, who waged a savage war against it during the 1830s. Eventually, the necessity of federal involvement in financial affairs was conceded as a given, and today the Federal Reserve Board wields unsurpassed power over the world economy.
Barbary States -   · The Barbary States are the present-day countries of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. Barbary, which in Latin means "foreign," designated the nature of this territory in relation to the Roman Empire, and the name has stuck. As Islamic powers with control of the southern Mediterranean coast, the Barbary States were able to exact exorbitant tributes from American and European seafarers during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, before they lost their sovereignty to the extended reach of colonization.
Bill of Rights -   · The Bill of Rights is the name given to the first ten amendments to the Constitution, passed as a group in 1791. These amendments outline the basic rights of all American citizens, including the freedom of speech and the right to bear arms. (See the Constitution SparkNote)
College of William and Mary -   · The College of William and Mary, founded in 1693 at Williamsburg, Virginia, is the second oldest institution of higher learning in America.
Constitution  -   · The Constitution is the basis of the American system of government, outlining the demarcation between federal and state power, and enumerating the several powers of the legislative, executive and judiciary branches. Further, a Bill of Rights and several successive amendments have served to refine the direction of government. Upon being ratified in 1788, the Constitution replaced a more weakly organized system of government as outlined under the Articles of Confederation. (See the Constitution SparkNote)
Democratic-Republican Party  -   · The Democratic-Republican Party, organized under Thomas Jefferson during the 1790s, initially stood in opposition to the consolidating principles of the Federalist party. Composed of many old-time Anti-Federalists, the Democratic-Republicans were initially suspicious of the powers of the Constitution and believed in the necessity of strict construction. Upon gaining executive power under Jefferson in 1801, the party began to suffer from an identity crisis, as they were forced to serve in capacities that they fundamentally opposed. Over time, the Democratic-Republicans effectively became the sole party in the United States, enjoying over two decades of federal power under the presidencies of Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe. Correspondingly, their first principles became muddled, and they suffered a partition in the 1820s, out of which an entirely new political organization occurred.
Disestablishment -   · Disestablishment, spurred by Jefferson in the late 1770s, was the means by which the Anglican Church lost its position as the official and exclusive state religion in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
East India Company -   · The East India Company was a mercantile venture in the Asian subcontinent that did much to fuel the overall success of the British empire. First established in the seventeenth century, its progress gave rise to corresponding initiatives in far-flung corners of the globe, and its rise and fall were closely linked with British successes in other colonial ventures.
Enlightenment -   · The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement that began in Europe during the seventeenth century, and stressed the values of humanism and rationality over divine principles.
Entail -   · Entail, a long-standing institution in British law, outlined a codified inheritance pattern within an immediate family structure rather than allowing the deceased to disperse property according to preference via an itemized will. Jefferson attacked and dismantled the institution of entail in the late 1770s.
Essex Junto -   · The Essex Junto was a group of New England secessionists that congealed in opposition to the Embargo Act during Jefferson's Second Administration.
Federalist Party  -   · The Federalist Party came together in the 1790s under the leadership of Alexander Hamilton. Supporters of a strong central government and the loose construction of the Constitution, they advanced the powers of the federal government under the executive leadership of Presidents George Washington and John Adams. Upon losing executive power to Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans in 1801, the Federalists watched as the new establishment proceeded to subsume many of their ideals and positions, gradually extinguishing the cause of Federalism into a distant memory.
House of Burgesses -   · The House of Burgesses was a legislative body established in 1619, for the purpose of granting a measure of autonomy to colonists in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It was overseen by a royal governor and ultimately subject to the power of Parliament and the British monarch.
Impeachment -   · Impeachment is an official measure of censure against a government official, followed by an investigation that may or may not lead to removal from office.
Impressment -   · Impressment was the method by which the British navy would forcibly remove deserters from American merchant ships and return them to service under command of the crown. American sailors were also frequently subject to such belligerence.
Judicial Review -   · Judicial review, established in 1803 per the terms of Chief Justice John Marshall s Marbury v. Madison decision, set the precedent whereby the judiciary reserved the right to declare legislative measures unconstitutional and therefore void.
Kentucky Resolutions -   · The Kentucky Resolutions, authored anonymously by Jefferson in 1799 out of opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts, advanced states rights and outlined the compact and nullification theories of government.
Louisiana Territory -   · The Louisiana Territory, a vast tract of land between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, was claimed for France in the seventeenth century. In the eighteenth century it was held briefly by Spain. During this period many Europeans settled amongst the several native tribes who previously occupied the land. Since 1803, the Louisiana Territory has belonged to the United States, and presently makes up over one-third of the country's total land mass.
Mandamus -   · Mandamus is a right of authority by a supreme court over a lower court. In the United States, such a right was initially established by the Judiciary Act of 1789, but later repealed by Chief Justice John Marshall in the Marbury v. Madison decision of 1803.
Massachusetts Bay Company -   · The Massachusetts Bay Company was a mercantile enterprise chartered by a group of English entrepreneurs in 1629 to establish a firmer second foothold along the Atlantic seaboard, in competition with the existing enterprise in Virginia.
Mercantile System  -   · The mercantile system is an arrangement by which an imperial power strips raw materials and profits from a colony, providing manufactured goods for sale in return. Thus, a system of dependency and exploitation is developed, fueling globalization through industrialization. Far from merely a seventeenth-century phenomenon, mercantilism, in altered form, is alive and well today.
Monticello -   · Monticello, meaning "hillock," or "little mountain," in Italian, was the longtime homestead of Thomas Jefferson, built on the family estate at Shadwell in present-day Albermarle County, Virginia. Construction and renovation on Monticello occurred throughout Jefferson's lifetime, and today the building and grounds stand as a testament to his architectural and agricultural vision. Monticello was auctioned off upon Jefferson's death in 1826, and today is privately maintained as a national attraction by a private foundation.
Parliament -   · Parliament is the legislative governing body of the British Empire. First established in the thirteenth century, Parliament gradually increased its power through various reforms. After the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution of the seventeenth century, the Parliament became the fundamental unit of government in the British system, and today enjoys considerable authority over the monarchy, which persists as an icon more than a governing power.
Poplar Forest -   · Poplar Forest was Jefferson's second home in Virginia, a country retreat with an octagon house located in Bedford County, ninety miles from Monticello.
Primogeniture -   · Primogeniture, a long-standing institution in British law, outlined a codified inheritance pattern whereby the eldest son inherited all lands and means from the deceased patriarch. Jefferson attacked and dismantled the institution of primogeniture in the late 1770s.
Shadwell -   · Shadwell was the Jefferson family estate, originally secured and developed by Jefferson's father, Peter Jefferson. After the Shadwell house burned down in 1770, Jefferson proceeded with the construction of Monticello, which would come to replace Shadwell as the Jefferson family homestead.
Tuckahoe -   · Tuckahoe was the Randolph family homestead, where the Jefferson family lived for a brief time during the 1740s. Jefferson spent his early childhood years at Tuckahoe, and received his first schooling there.
Unitarianism -   · Unitarianism was a reform movement that grew out of the early New England Congregationalist Church. The most conspicuous aspect of their doctrine is a denial of Jesus' humanity, a view that causes many to cast them beyond the pale of Christianity. Today the Unitarians have merged with the Universalists, and exist primarily in California and New England.
University of Virginia -   · The University of Virginia, founded by Jefferson, was chartered in 1819 and first opened its doors in 1825. With its main campus in Charlottesville, the University remains a prime example of Jefferson's neoclassical architectural vision.
Virginia Assembly -   · The Virginia Assembly coalesced in the dissolution of the House of Burgesses, functioning as the commonwealth's first completely autonomous legislature. From its initial formation in the early days of the Revolutionary War, the Virginia Assembly has been a bastion of states rights and a benchmark of state government in general.
Virginia Company -   · The Virginia Company was chartered in 1606 by King James I and VI of England and Scotland as a colonial venture along the Atlantic seaboard. Despite gradual economic progress, widespread casualties led to the loss of the charter in 1624 and the eventual dissolution of the company in 1630.
Virginia Resolutions -   · The Virginia Resolutions, authored anonymously by James Madison in 1799 out of opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts, were a milder rebuke to the federal government than Jefferson's caustic Kentucky Resolutions.

People

John Adams -  John Adams was the second President of the United States, serving from 1797-1801. He had previously served as a foreign minister to Britain and as vice president under George Washington from 1789-1797. He was the last of the Federalist presidents, and suffered from a difficult tenure in office, plagued by the XYZ Affair and the ensuing controversy over the Alien and Sedition Acts. Toward the close of his life, he maintained a lengthy correspondence with Jefferson despite previous political differences.
John Quincy Adams -  John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States, serving from 1825-1829. Son to John Adams and Abigail Adams, he was a longstanding Congressman from Massachusetts and later Secretary of State under James Monroe. After stepping down from executive office upon his defeat at the hands of Andrew Jackson in the 1828 presidential election, Adams returned for a second tenure in the legislative branch, serving from 1831 until his death in 1848.
Henry Adams -  Henry Adams was the great-grandson of John Adams, the grandson of John Quincy Adams, and the son of Charles Francis Adams, who served as United States Ambassador to Britain during the Civil War. A historian of the highest repute, Adams' main project was a nine volume history of the United States in the period from 1800-1817, which covered the Presidential administrations of Jefferson and James Madison.
Marie-Antoinette  -  Marie-Antoinette, wife of the fated French monarch, Louis XVI, was known for her opposition to reforms in favor of the lower classes. In the mayhem caused by the French Revolution and the ensuing Reign of Terror, she was executed by guillotine ten months after her deposed husband, on October 16, 1793.
Benedict Arnold -  Benedict Arnold was a leading general for the American cause during the early stages of the Revolutionary War. After marrying a woman from a loyalist family, he switched allegiances, and fought on behalf of the British for the remainder of the war. Arnold spent the final twenty years of his life ailing and in disgrace in England.
Napoleon Bonaparte  -  Napoleon Bonaparte was a prominent French general during the late eighteenth century who rose to power after a coup d'etat in 1799. In the ensuing decade, Napoleon launched an ambitious offensive with the goal of European, and ultimately world, domination. He nearly succeeded in bringing the European continent to its knees, but his hold gradually began to loosen as his grasp continued to expand. Ultimately, he was deposed and imprisoned, only to return in a second, desperate attempt for power in 1815. Ultimately, after one hundred days of struggle, Bonaparte was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in present- day Belgium. Napoleon spent the last several years of his life imprisoned on the island of St. Helena, off the coast of West Africa, where he died in 1821. (See the SparkNote on Napoleon Bonaparte)
Baron de Botetourt -  Baron de Botetourt was royal governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, presiding over the House of Burgesses from 1768-1770.
Rebecca Burwell -  Rebecca Burwell was an early love of Jefferson's, whom he met while a student at the College of William and Mary. When she spurned him for a younger rival, he was left despondent.
Aaron Burr -  Aaron Burr was a powerful Democratic-Republican politician from New York who served as Vice President under Jefferson from 1801-1805. After assassinating Alexander Hamilton in a duel, Burr fled south, where he conspired in an elaborate secessionist plot in the Louisiana Territory. Eventually, Jefferson caught wind of the plot and brought Burr to trial for treason. Burr was later cleared of all charges by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, and fled to Europe, returning shortly thereafter to live out the rest of his life in obscurity as a provincial New York State attorney.
John C. Calhoun -  John C. Calhoun, a longtime Congressman from South Carolina, was a staunch advocate of states rights through nullification as outlined by Jefferson in the Kentucky Resolutions. After serving as vice president under Andrew Jackson, Calhoun returned to legislative office, where he continued to fight for southern interests against the increasing encroachment of the federal government.
James Thompson Callender -  James Thompson Callender was a muckraking journalist who impugned the character of John Adams during the presidential election campaign of 1800, and was summarily imprisoned under the terms of the Sedition Act. After being spurned for a desired appointment by Jefferson, Callender propagated rumors of Jefferson's affair with Sally Hemings in the national press.
King Carlos IV -  King Carlos IV of Spain reigned weakly as monarch from 1788-1808, when he was deposed by Joseph Bonaparte, brother to French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (See the SparkNote on Napoleon Bonaparte). Carlos IV spent the brief remainder of his life in exile.
Dabney Carr  -  Dabney Carr was a member of the House of Burgesses and a childhood friend of Jefferson's. He later married Jefferson's sister Martha. After Carr's premature death at the age of thirty, Jefferson assumed the care of his six children.
Cincinnatus -  Cincinnatus was a noted Roman citizen of the fifth century B.C.E. who twice abandoned the administration of his farm to take power of the republic during times of political turmoil. In both instances, he relinquished his power once the crisis had been resolved.
William Claiborne -  William Claiborne was named by Jefferson as the first governor of the Louisiana Territory. He was above suspicion but also largely oblivious with regard to Aaron Burr's secessionist plot. Later Claiborne was elected senator from Louisiana, but died before taking office.
William Clark  -  William Clark was the Clark part of Lewis and Clark, the two men who made an extensive exploration of the Louisiana Territory under the guidance of Sacajawea and the somewhat underhanded encouragement of Jefferson in the aftermath of the Louisiana Purchase.
Henry Clay -  Henry Clay was a prominent Whig senator from Kentucky who ran unsuccessfully for President on three occasions. He was a supporter of internal improvements per his American System, and is well known as "the Great Compromiser" for his role in the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850.
George Clinton -  George Clinton was governor of New York state in the early nineteenth century, and assumed Aaron Burr's place as Vice President on the Democratic-Republican ticket in the election of 1804. He served as Vice President under Jefferson from 1805-1809, and later under James Madison from 1809-1812, after standing against Madison in the election of 1808.
Christopher Columbus -  Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer who made several voyages to the Western Hemisphere under the auspices of the Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in the late fifteenth century. Contrary to popular belief, Columbus never reached the American continent, instead arriving only in various Caribbean islands, which he believed up until his death to have been islands off the coast of India.
Lord Cornwallis -  Lord Cornwallis was a statesman and soldier who led the British campaign against rebellious American colonials and French supporters in the Revolutionary War. After his defeat at Yorktown in 1782, Cornwallis continued to function in the service of the crown, seeing action in Ireland and later India, where he died in 1805 after being named governor general there.
Maria Cosway -  Maria Cosway was an English painter raised in Italy, who had a brief dalliance with Jefferson during his time in Paris as American minister to France. She later returned to England with her husband, only to abandon him and their child when she ran off to the European continent with an Italian castrato. A sporadic correspondence with Jefferson in later years ultimately proved insubstantial and unsustainable.
Jefferson Davis -  Jefferson Davis was a two-term senator from Mississippi who resigned his seat in the face of the impending southern secession. Mere weeks later, in 1861, he was named President of the Confederate States of America, a position he held throughout the Civil War (See the Civil War SparkNote). Reluctant to give up his post in the aftermath of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, Davis was treated leniently during Reconstruction, and lived to the ripe old age of eighty- one.
Stephen Douglas -  Stephen Douglas was a senator from Illinois who rose quickly up the ranks of the Democratic Party. He proposed the controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and defended his doctrine of popular sovereignty in a series of debates with Abraham Lincoln in 1858 (See the SparkNote on Abraham Lincoln). Although he defeated Lincoln in the Senate race, he later lost the presidential election to Lincoln in 1860. Undeterred from fighting for what he believed to be right, Douglas joined forces with Lincoln in an attempt to preserve the Union, but died just after the outset of the Civil War in 1861 (See the Civil War SparkNote).
Earl of Dunmore -  The Earl of Dunmore served as royal governor in both New York and Virginia. He was the last British peer to serve over the House of Burgesses, fleeing Virginia upon their final dissolution. He launched several attacks against natives and colonists alike, but was transferred out of the Americas at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. He later served as royal governor in the Bahamas.
Queen Elizabeth I -  Queen Elizabeth I acceded to the throne of England in 1558, upon the death of her sister, Queen Mary I. She never married, and ruled for 45 years as the Virgin Queen, securing Anglicanism as the official state religion while fending off competing empires, establishing England as a colonial power in the Americas and elsewhere. (See the SparkNote on Queen Elizabeth I)
Ralph Waldo Emerson -  Ralph Waldo Emerson was a New England transcendentalist who came out of the Unitarian religious tradition and went on to establish his own doctrines of divinity and spirituality in works such as Nature and The Conduct of Life/.
Benjamin Franklin -  Benjamin Franklin was an author, inventor and scientist, in addition to being one of the foremost statesmen of his day. His Autobiography remains a renowned work of American letters. He spent his later years as a diplomat in England and France on behalf of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and later the United States.
Frederick the Great -  Frederick the Great was king of Prussia in the middle stages of the eighteenth century, and advanced Prussian fortunes to the point where they became the foremost power in Europe. Allied with Britain during the Seven Years War, Frederick the Great was later generous to the United States in forging a trade alliance.
Albert Gallatin -  Albert Gallatin, born in Geneva, served as Secretary of Treasury under Jefferson and later under James Madison. His adept fiscal policies helped significantly reduce the national debt. He later served as minister to France during the administration of James Monroe. Gallatin was at times suspected of treason because of his foreign birth, which precluded him from a potential run at the Vice Presidency in 1824.
Edmund Genet -  Edmund Genet was French ambassador to the United States during the early 1790s, and conspired to reclaim Florida for France and Spain by recruiting Americans to enlist in combat against British forces. He eventually fell out of political favor with President Washington and was recalled, later claiming asylum in the United States and marrying a daughter of George Clinton.
King George III -  King George III served as monarch of Britain from 1760 until his death in 1820. He was plagued by mental afflictions throughout his tumultuous reign. After gaining a victory in the Seven Years War, his empire lost ground to the Americans in the Revolutionary War. Later the English forces under King George III enjoyed success after many trials against the French expansion headed by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.
Elbridge Gerry -  Elbridge Gerry was an important member of the Second Continental Congress, later serving as governor of Massachusetts and Vice President under James Madison from 1813-1814. He died while in office.
Alexander Hamilton -  Alexander Hamilton was an influential political figure from New York, who served as the first Secretary of Treasury under George Washington. His ambitious fiscal plan and strong value on centralized government characterized the Federalist philosophy. After successfully blocking Aaron Burr's candidacy for governor of New York State, Hamilton was challenged to a duel, which he accepted, only to be shot and killed on a plain at Weehawken, New Jersey on July 11, 1804.
John Hancock -  John Hancock was the president of the First and Second Continental Congresses, and the chief signer of the Declaration of Independence (See the Declaration of Independence SparkNote). He later served nine terms as governor of Massachusetts.
William Henry Harrison -  William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States, serving an abbreviated one-month term in 1841, cut short by his death from pneumonia. Harrison was previously involved in the secessionist plot of Aaron Burr, and gained honor for his role in both the Battle of Tippecanoe and the War of 1812.
Betty Hemings -  Betty Hemings was the slave mistress of John Wayles. She gave birth to as many as six children by Wayles, including Sally Hemings, who was later cast as Jefferson's own slave mistress.
Beverly Hemings -  Beverly Hemings was born in 1798 to Sally Hemings, and has long been alleged to be a son of Thomas Jefferson. Circumstantial evidence strongly suggests this to be so. Hemings ran away from Monticello in 1822 with Jefferson's tacit approval, and later settled in Washington as a white man.
Eston Hemings  -  Eston Hemings was born in 1808 to Sally Hemings. Recent genetic evidence strongly suggests the paternity of Jefferson. Hemings was freed under the terms of Jefferson's will in 1826, and enjoyed a successful career as a popular musician in Ohio and Wisconsin thereafter.
Harriet Hemings -  Harriet Hemings was born in 1801 to Sally Hemings and has long been alleged to be a daughter of Thomas Jefferson. Circumstantial evidence strongly suggests this to be so. Hemings left Monticello in 1822 with the support of Jefferson. Thereafter, she lived in Washington, D.C., passing and marrying into a white family.
James Hemings -  James Hemings was born to Betty Hemings and John Wayles, and was elder brother to Sally Hemings. He traveled to France with Jefferson, and became a noted chef during his tenure in Paris. Hemings was freed by Jefferson in 1796 but floundered into alcoholism as a free man, committing suicide only five years later.
Madison Hemings  -  Madison Hemings was born in 1805 to Sally Hemings and has long been alleged to be a son of Thomas Jefferson. Circumstantial evidence strongly suggests this to be so. Hemings was freed under the terms of Jefferson's will in 1826, and later moved to Ohio to work as a carpenter and farmer. In 1873, shortly before his death, he went on record with a local news reporter, claiming to be the unacknowledged son of Jefferson. This claim was widely discredited for over a century, and has only recently been recognized as a potentially valid testimony.
Sally Hemings -  Sally Hemings was born to Betty Hemings and John Wayles, and was the younger sister of James Hemings. As a teenager, she accompanied Maria Jefferson to France in 1787, and later enjoyed a privileged position as Jefferson's personal attendant at Monticello. Suspected by many to have been Jefferson's longtime secret mistress, circumstantial evidence points strongly to this possibility. Significantly, as a result of her parentage, she was also the unrecognized half-sister of Jefferson's wife, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson. Hemings herself may have borne as many as six of Jefferson's unacknowledged children. Although not freed under the terms of Jefferson's will in 1826, she was retained by his white heirs and freed shortly thereafter.
Patrick Henry -  Patrick Henry was a leading member of the Virginia cotillion who pushed for independence in the years leading up to the Revolutionary War. He later served two separate tenures as governor of Virginia, and played a key role in regaining the Great Lakes Region for Virginia from the conflicting claims of Britain via the Quebec Act.
Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson  -  Martha Wayles Skelton was the daughter of John Wayles, and had initially married Bathurst Skelton. After being widowed, she was introduced to Jefferson, whom she married after a brief courtship on New Year's Day, 1772. In just over a decade of marriage she suffered from frequent ill health, and bore several sickly children who died in infancy. She herself died in 1782, leaving Jefferson a lifelong widower in the company of their two daughters, Patsy and Polly.
Martha Washington Jefferson  -  Martha Washington Jefferson, known as Patsy to her family, was the eldest surviving daughter of Jefferson and Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson, born September 27, 1772. She was married to Thomas Mann Randolph at Monticello upon returning from France, and bore twelve children. She served as hostess at the President's House during Jefferson's administrations, and later helped the family gather itself after Jefferson's death and their disinheritance.
Maria Jefferson  -  Maria Jefferson, known as Polly to her family, was the youngest surviving daughter of Jefferson and Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson, born August 1, 1778. As a child, she traveled to France to join her father and sister, and upon returning to the United States, married John Eppes. She died from the complications of childbirth at the age of twenty-four.
Jane Randolph Jefferson  -  Jane Randolph Jefferson was married to Peter Jefferson, and gave birth to their eldest son Thomas Jefferson in 1743. After the death of her husband, she worked together with Jefferson to maintain the Shadwell estate, and later Monticello. Family relations were tense until her death in 1776, mere months before Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence (See the Declaration of Independence SparkNote).
Peter Jefferson  -  Peter Jefferson was a Tidewater youth who moved west to the Piedmont Frontier of Virginia. Most famously, he was the father of Thomas Jefferson, but also amassed an impressive resume of political accomplishments in his own right, surveying the border between Virginia and North Carolina and serving multiple terms in the House of Burgesses.
Touissaint L'Ouverture -  Touissaint L'Ouverture was the leader of a slave insurrection on Santo Domingo, and an instrumental force behind the establishment of an independent Haiti. Nevertheless, he was eventually captured and imprisoned under orders from Napoleon Bonaparte, and he died in a dungeon in the Jura Mountains of France in 1803.
Marquis de Lafayette -  Marquis de Lafayette served in the aid of George Washington during the Revolutionary War, and gained wide esteem for his heroism. He later played an instrumental role both in the French Revolution and the eventual restoration of the monarchy. In addition to being a close friend of Jefferson's in both America and France, he is noted for his tricolor design on the French flag.
Richard Henry Lee -  Richard Henry Lee was a longtime member of the House of Burgesses who played a key role in initiating the composition of the Declaration of Independence at the Second Continental Congress. He later opposed the Constitution, but was instrumental in establishing the Bill of Rights.
Meriwether Lewis  -  Meriwether Lewis was the Lewis part of Lewis and Clark, the two men who made an extensive exploration of the Louisiana Territory under the guidance of Sacajawea and the somewhat underhanded encouragement of Jefferson in the aftermath of the Louisiana Purchase. He later became disillusioned with his role in the territorial expansion and died an alcoholic on the western frontier in an apparent suicide.
Abraham Lincoln  -  Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth President of the United States, serving from 1861-1865. Extending his executive privilege at all costs to preserve the integrity of the fragmented Union, Lincoln issued the noted Emancipation Proclamation on New Year's Day, 1863. After being re- elected in 1864, Lincoln presided over the conclusion of the Civil War (See the Civil War SparkNote), only to be assassinated days later by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth. (See the SparkNote on Abraham Lincoln)
Robert Livingston -  Robert Livingston was a chief foreign minister during Jefferson's first administration. Alongside James Monroe and Charles Pinckney, he brokered the Louisiana Purchase for the United States together with Talleyrand and Napoleon Bonaparte of France (See the SparkNote on Napoleon Bonaparte).
King Louis XIV -  King Louis XIV, known as "the Sun King," reigned over France from 1643- 1715. During his rule as absolute monarch, a series of costly European wars damaged France's economic prospects even as he lived in lavish court style in the newly erected palace at Versailles.
King Louis XVI -  King Louis XVI reigned over France from 1774-1792. He was the last in a long line of consecutive Bourbon monarchs, and was famously married to Marie- Antoinette. His rule was disrupted amidst the French Revolution which saw him deposed, imprisoned, and ultimately beheaded, stripped of his title as Citizen Capet.
Dolly Madison -  Dolly Madison was born of Quaker parents, and left her religion after being widowed to marry James Madison. She played hostess at the President's House during the administrations of both Jefferson and Madison.
James Madison  -  James Madison was the fourth President of the United States, serving from 1809- 1817. He worked with Jefferson on drafting a code of laws for the Virginia Assembly, and later played a crucial role in the composition and ratification of the Constitution. He authored the Virginia Resolutions, a milder companion to Jefferson's Kentucky Resolutions, and served as Secretary of State under Jefferson from 1801-1809. During his own Presidency, Madison presided over America's role in the War of 1812, known to opponents as "Mr. Madison's War."
John Marshall -  John Marshall was the fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, serving from 1801-1835. His most significant decisions, including Marbury v. Madison and McCullough v. Maryland, tended to advance Marshall's Federalist agenda. For his value of judicial review and a strong central government, Marshall was in constant conflict with Jefferson during Jefferson's administrations. In addition, Marshall was frequently drawn to scandals, implicated in the XYZ Affair, and later clearing Aaron Burr of treason charges in the midst of Burr's failed secessionist plot.
James Maury -  James Maury was an Anglican clergyman who served as the teenage Jefferson's tutor for two years. He also taught Dabney Carr and, later, James Monroe.
James Monroe  -  James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States, serving from 1817-1825. Fresh out of college, he saw action in the Revolutionary War, and later studied law under Jefferson. During Jefferson's administrations, he served as a foreign minister, playing a key role in the negotiation of the Louisiana Purchase. Under President Madison, Monroe served as Secretary of State. During his own administrations, Monroe's crucial actions were to sign the Missouri Compromise and issue the Monroe Doctrine under advice from John Quincy Adams.
Lord North -  Lord North served as Prime Minister of Parliament from 1770-1782. His close relationship with King George III ensured his longevity in office, but was not enough to withstand the damage to his reputation as a result of losses in the Revolutionary War.
Thomas Paine -  Thomas Paine was a political theorist, best known for his work Common Sense, which furthered momentum behind the Revolutionary War movement in America. He later took an active role in the French Revolution and opposed the growth of the Federalist Party in the United States. In his later years, Paine was severely ostracized, and died an impecunious outcast from society.
Charles Wilson Peale -  Charles Wilson Peale was best known as a painter of heroes from the Revolutionary War era. In addition, he founded the first major museum in the United States, the Peale Museum at Baltimore.
Charles Pinckney -  Charles Pinckney was a foreign minister during Jefferson's first administration. Previously implicated in the XYZ Affair, he redeemed himself alongside Robert Livingston and James Monroe in brokering the Louisiana Purchase for the United States.
Josiah Quincy -  Josiah Quincy was a longtime member of Congress from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He was a staunch Federalist minority leader during Jefferson's administrations, and a vocal opponent of the Embargo Act. He had a tangential relation to the Essex Junto, propagators of a New England secessionist plot. Later he served as president of Harvard University and was a founder of the Harvard Law School.
Sir Walter Ralegh -  Sir Walter Ralegh was by turns a court favorite and enemy of Queen Elizabeth I. He made extensive explorations in North and South America, and was imprisoned for various intrigues during the late sixteenth century. He was eventually executed under the reign of King James I and VI of England and Scotland.
Peyton Randolph -  Peyton Randolph, brother of John Randolph, was a cousin to Jefferson who served as a longtime member and later speaker of the House of Burgesses. Like John Hancock, he served tenures as president of the First and Second Continental Congresses, but died before the outbreak of the Revolutionary War.
John Randolph -  John Randolph, brother of Peyton Randolph, was a cousin to Jefferson who remained a loyalist in the months leading up to the Revolutionary War, and eventually relocated to England in the interest of his own personal safety.
Thomas Jefferson Randolph -  Thomas Jefferson Randolph was the eldest son of Martha Washington Jefferson and Thomas Mann Randolph, and the eldest grandson of Jefferson. He was the designated primary heir to Jefferson's estate, but lost his birthright upon the lottery and auction of Jefferson's holdings that took place in 1827.
Thomas Mann Randolph -  Thomas Mann Randolph was married to Martha Washington Jefferson at Monticello, shortly after her return from France in 1789. Although Jefferson fully approved of the match, Randolph was constantly plagued by feelings of inadequacy in his new family, and degenerated into alcoholism in later life.
Ronald Reagan -  Ronald Reagan is the fortieth President of the United States, having served from 1981-89. He was noted for his fiscally conservative brand of Republicanism, and was the first President to serve two full consecutive terms since Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt -  Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the thirty-second President of the United States, serving from 1933-1945. He was a bastion of the Democratic Party, and was elected to office an unprecedented four times running. His liberal social policies and overarching government programs provided relief to many during the hardships caused by the Great Depression.
Sacajawea -  Sacajawea was a Shoshone native who guided Lewis and Clark in their western expedition through the Louisiana Territory beginning in 1804. She recently won newfound fame via her placement on the new dollar coins minted by the United States federal government.
Bathurst Skelton -  Bathurst Skelton was a lawyer and first husband to Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson. He died shortly after their marriage, leaving considerable holdings to his childless widow.
Roger Taney -  Roger B. Taney was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1835-1864. He issued the landmark Dred Scott decision in 1857, and fiercely opposed Lincoln's extension of executive privilege during the Civil War.
Charles Maurice de Talleyrand  -  Charles Maurice de Talleyrand was a longtime French diplomat and chief adviser to Napoleon Bonaparte in the early nineteenth century. He was embroiled in the midst of the XYZ Affair, and later served as the chief broker on behalf of France during the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
Henry David Thoreau -  Henry David Thoreau was a prominent New England transcendentalist and a close associate of Ralph Waldo Emerson. He is known for his values of self-reliance and nonconformity, and wrote several tracts on life in nature, including, most famously, Walden.
Harry S. Truman -  Harry S. Truman was the thirty-third President of the United States, serving from 1945-1953. He succeeded Franklin Delano Roosevelt in office, and presided over the conclusion of World War II as well as the unfolding of the Korean War.
George Washington  -  George Washington was the first President of the United States, serving from 1789-1797. He served as commander-in-chief of the American forces during the Revolutionary War, and later advanced a Federalist agenda from executive office with the primary support of John Adams and Alexander Hamilton.
John Wayles -  John Wayles was father to Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson, and one of the most prominent landowners and speculators in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He amassed holdings and debts in equal proportions, and passed this dubious inheritance to Jefferson, his son-in-law. Wayles also fathered several children by his slave mistress, Betty Hemings. Among their offspring was Sally Hemings, later styled as Jefferson's own mistress.
James Wilkinson -  James Wilkinson, a hero of the Revolutionary War, served as deputy governor of the Louisiana Territory under the command of William Claiborne. He played a significant role in Aaron Burr's secessionist plot, but was cleared of wrongdoing after revealing the scheme to Jefferson. He later served an unremarkable tenure in the War of 1812.
Woodrow Wilson -  Woodrow Wilson was the twenty-eighth President of the United States, serving from 1913-1921. He is also noted for serving as president of Princeton University. Wilson advanced the fortunes of the Democratic Party, which had been in disarray for nearly half-a-century in the aftermath of the Civil War (See the Civil War SparkNote). After avoiding involvement in World War I for several years, Wilson finally committed the United States to the Allied cause, and later spearheaded the negotiations over the Treaty of Versailles (See the World War I SparkNote). His efforts to advance the League of Nations were frustrated by congressional opposition, and he died shortly after leaving office.
George Wythe -  George Wythe served as law tutor to the young Jefferson, and later worked as a law professor at the College of William and Mary. He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and assisted Jefferson in preparing a new code of laws for the Virginia Assembly. In 1806, Wythe was poisoned to death by his nephew after a complicated inheritance scheme involving Wythe's slave mistress and their son came to light.

Events

Barbary Wars -  The Barbary Wars were a series of conflicts fought with various North African principalities, chiefly Algiers and Tripoli. Jefferson initiated an American offensive in 1801 after tribute demands from the Muslim suzerains grew outlandish. Fighting ensued for several years, and never reached a conclusive endpoint.
Battle of Bunker Hill -  The Battle of Bunker Hill, fought June 17, 1775, was a violent triumph for the British over rebellious colonials at Charlestown, Massachusetts. Despite their success, the British were unable to take control of the port of Boston, and the Revolutionary War suddenly became more than a brief flare-up confined to the Atlantic seaboard.
Battles of Lexington and Concord -  The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first conflicts of the Revolutionary War, fought April 19, 1775 just to the northwest of Boston. A surprise triumph for rebel colonials led to increased confidence in the cause of secession, providing a renewed sense of purpose at the Second Continental Congress, which began in Philadelphia a few weeks later.
Berlin Decree  -  The Berlin Decree, issued by Napoleon on November 21, 1806, established a blockade of all British ports. However, in the initial months of this system, the shipping interests of neutral nations such as the United States were left alone, allowing the American economy to prosper and sparking the resentment of Parliament. Tensions between the three nations bubbled over one year later, when France, Britain and the United States passed strong trade measures–the Milan Decree, the Orders in Council, and the Embargo Act, respectively–in quick succession.
Bloody Kansas -  Bloody Kansas was the term given to the widespread violent conflict that arose in the Kansas Territory during the 1850s as a result of Stephen Douglas' principle of popular sovereignty, established via the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854.
Boston Port Act -  The Boston Port Act, one of the so-called Intolerable Acts passed by Parliament in 1774, resolved to close the Port of Boston until the East India Company was compensated for tea destroyed during the Boston Tea Party. It was met with stiff opposition throughout the colonies.
Civil War -  The Civil War, fought between 1861 and 1865, was a battle to determine the fate of slavery and union in America. Under the stern leadership of Abraham Lincoln, union was eventually preserved, and slavery was abolished per the Thirteenth Amendment. (See the Civil War SparkNote)
First Continental Congress  -  The First Continental Congress was held at Philadelphia in 1774. An attempt to bring cohesion to colonial dissent, it was followed by the more radical Second Continental Congress, which began the following year.
Second Continental Congress  -  The Second Continental Congress was held at Philadelphia in 1775-76, and took a radical turn upon the news of conflict between British and colonial forces at the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Eventually, the Second Continental Congress culminated in a Declaration of Independence and the establishment of a sovereign national government.
Declaration of Independence  -  The Declaration of Independence, initiated by a call to national sovereignty by Richard Henry Lee, was drafted by Jefferson in June of 1776. Approved after a lengthy debate by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, the Declaration was later signed by President John Hancock and fifty-five other delegates to the congress. (See the Declaration of Independence SparkNote)
Embargo Act -  The Embargo Act, passed December 22, 1807, forbade all import/export trade between the United States and foreign nations. It was a stronger re-formulation of the existing Non-Importation Act, and was passed in response to the Berlin and Milan Decrees of Napoleon and Parliament's Orders in Council. Because it was essentially unenforceable, the Embargo Act was an out-and-out failure from both an economic and political standpoint, and was repealed upon the inauguration of James Madison on March 4, 1809.
English Civil War -  The English Civil War, fought from 1642 to 1648, was a battle between royalist supporters and a radical wing of Parliament under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell. Ultimately, the sitting monarch, King Charles I, was deposed and beheaded, and Cromwell ruled over the newly established Commonwealth for nearly a decade. The monarchy was restored in 1660, but Parliament had permanently strengthened its role within the English government.
French Revolution -  The French Revolution was a major political reorganization that began in 1789 with the storming of the Bastille and the rise of the Third Estate, the mass of common people who had been oppressed for centuries under the authoritarian rule of an absolute monarchy. The sitting monarch, Louis XVI, was deposed, imprisoned and eventually beheaded in the political chaos known as the Reign of Terror that eventually led to the rise of Napoleon as an emperor every bit as powerful as the monarchs who had come before him. ( See the French Revolution SparkNote)
Glorious Revolution -  The Glorious Revolution occurred in 1688, when King William III and Queen Mary II usurped the English throne from King James II. In exchange for this turnabout, King William III agreed to function as a limited monarch, further increasing the growing power of Parliament.
Intolerable Acts -  The Intolerable Acts were so-called by the rebellious colonials who reacted harshly against a series of measures passed by Parliament in 1774 as a response to the Boston Tea Party, including the Boston Port Act and the Quebec Act.
Louisiana Purchase -  The Louisiana Purchase, accomplished in 1803, was a sale of the Louisiana Territory from France to the United States for a sum of $15 million. Although the Louisiana Purchase raised several thorny issues of constitutional interpretation, it was ultimately approved by Congress, thus initiating the rapid growth of an American Empire in the Western Hemisphere.
Marbury V. Madison -  The Marbury v. Madison decision, issued by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall on March 3, 1803, overturned the Judiciary Act of 1789. In so doing, the decision established the principal of judicial review, greatly expanding the role of the judiciary within the federal government structure.
Milan Decree -  The Milan Decree, formally issued in December 1807, was the result of a long- standing promise by Napoleon to enforce the content of his Berlin Decree. This aggressive foreign policy led to the corresponding passage of the Orders in Council by Britain and the Embargo Act by the United States.
Missouri Compromise -  The Missouri Compromise of 1820 was engineered by Henry Clay. It allowed for the entry of Missouri to the Union as a slave state, largely in exchange for the creation of a demarcation line categorically prohibiting the extension slavery north of Missouri's southern border. This legislation was later repealed by Stephen Douglas s Kansas-Nebraska Act and Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney's Dred Scott decision.
Monroe Doctrine -  The Monroe Doctrine, published during President Monroe's second administration on December 2, 1823, called for an end to European intervention in the Western Hemisphere. It was largely the brainchild of then-Secretary of State John Quincy Adams. Although virtually unenforceable at the time it was issued, the United States later continued to expand its imperial domain in the Western Hemisphere with perceived justification via the Monroe Doctrine.
Non-Importation Act -  The Non-Importation Act had its foundations in the colonial protests that occurred in reaction to the Stamp Act and Townshend Acts. During Jefferson's second administration, a Non-Importation Act was proposed and passed but immediately suspended. Eventually, the Embargo Act filled its function, only to be repealed upon the inauguration of James Madison. At this point, a Non-Intercourse Act directed toward Britain and France was passed. Eventually, these tensions over trade boiled over into the War of 1812.
Orders in Council -  The Orders in Council, passed in November of 1807, functioned as Parliament's response to Napoleon's Berlin Decree. As a countermeasure to the French blockade of British ports, the British resolved to blockade French ports, and to hold American shipping interests to the same degree of surveillance that British ships suffered under the watch of the French. This usurpation of American sovereignty led to the issue of the Embargo Act, and laid another portion of hostile foundation creating the conditions for the War of 1812.
Panic of 1819 -  The Panic of 1819 was a financial catastrophe brought about by injudicious budgeting in the midst of the War of 1812. It was the first of several major panics that hobbled the volatile American economy in the nineteenth century.
Quebec Act -  The Quebec Act of 1774, classed as one of the Intolerable Acts by the American colonials who reacted against it, extended the borders of the Quebec territory well into the Great Lakes region. This land, which was also simultaneously claimed by the Commonwealths of Massachusetts and Virginia as well as several native tribes, was the focus of intermittent fighting throughout the Revolutionary War, eventually reverting to the control of the newly- established United States.
Revolutionary War -  The Revolutionary War was fought between 1775 and 1782, beginning with the first shots fired at the Battles of Lexington and Concord and ending with Lord Cornwallis' surrender to George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia. In the initial fighting, British forces overwhelmed the inexperienced and undermanned colonial rebels. However, significant military assistance from French forces on land and at sea eventually helped ensure an American victory.
Secessionist Plots  -  Various secessionist plots sprung up during Jefferson's presidential administrations. Two regions proved especially vulnerable: the newly-acquired Louisiana Territory, which was briefly captivated by the master plan of Aaron Burr, and New England, which under lingering Federalist influence formed a rebellious faction known as the Essex Junto in objection to the woefully ineffective Embargo Act. Later, during the War of 1812, the idea of secession briefly resurfaced in New England. Ultimately, none of the plots amounted to a serious threat.
Seven Years War -  The Seven Years War was fought between 1755 and 1763, and involved a complicated web of alliances and adversaries in European and American theaters. The fighting that occurred in the American theater is often referred to as the French and Indian War. The big winners in the event were the British and the Prussians, who increased their claims in North America and Northern Europe, respectively. As a result of the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the war, the Floridas passed from Spanish to British control. As compensation, the French transferred control of the Louisiana Territory to Spain.
Stamp Act -  The Stamp Act was passed in 1765 by Parliament in an attempt to raise revenue for the flagging British economy. Via this measure, a taxed stamp was required on various documents and printed materials traded in the colonies. It was met with fierce opposition, and repealed in the following year.
Tea Act -  The Tea Act was the lone Townshend Act to remain in place after Lord North repealed the several others in 1770. By continuing to levy a tax on tea, Parliament symbolically indicated its continuing authority over the American colonies while at the same time attempting to revive the fortunes of the floundering East India Company. Such manipulation was met with fervent hostility, and led indirectly to the start of the Revolutionary War.
Townshend Acts  -  The Townshend Acts were passed by Parliament in 1767, shortly after the repeal of the Stamp Act. The Townshend Acts placed duties on several import/export goods, including glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea.
First Virginia Convention -  The First Virginia Convention was held in 1774 as a nominating prelude to the First Continental Congress, held at Philadelphia later that same year. Held in Williamsburg, the First Virginia Convention was the occasion at which Jefferson published his Summary View on the Rights of British America.
Second Virginia Convention -  The Second Virginia Convention was held in 1775 as a nominating prelude to the Second Continental Congress. Moved from Williamsburg inland to Richmond, this convention was more radical in character than the First Virginia Convention, and served as a fitting political capstone to the tense period leading up to the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
War of 1812 -  The War of 1812 was fought between the United States and Great Britain over control of international commerce on the high seas. After a lengthy campaign, the United States emerged victorious, producing in the process a new set of war heroes including Andrew Jackson and Winfield Scott.
Whiskey Rebellion -  The Whiskey Rebellion was a 1794 uprising in protest of taxes imposed under the financial regime of Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton. The rebellion was summarily squashed by troops sent in under orders from President Washington.
XYZ Affair -  The XYZ Affair was an aborted bribery scheme involving France and the United States, in which French minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand suggested to American ministers Elbridge Gerry, John Marshall and Charles Pinckney that an exorbitant tribute sum be paid in advance of diplomatic negotiations between the two nations. The resulting political flap, which caused significant turmoil for the administration of President John Adams, resulted in the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

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