To comment on the assertion of the first writeup that Jefferson freed his slaves upon his death, Consider this quote from
Jefferson manumitted only the five young Hemingses, who were probably his own children, and two others.
Most of Jefferson's slaves remained slaves after his death.

A short biography from

In the thick of party conflict in 1800, Thomas Jefferson wrote in a private letter, "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

This powerful advocate of liberty was born in 1743 in Albermarle County, Virginia, inheriting from his father, a planter and surveyor, some 5,000 acres of land, and from his mother, a Randolph, high social standing. He studied at the College of William and Mary, then read law. In 1772 he married Martha Wayles Skelton, a widow, and took her to live in his partly constructed mountaintop home, Monticello.

Freckled and sandy-haired, rather tall and awkward, Jefferson was eloquent as a correspondent, but he was no public speaker. In the Virginia House of Burgesses and the Continental Congress, he contributed his pen rather than his voice to the patriot cause. As the "silent member" of the Congress, Jefferson, at 33, drafted the Declaration of Independence. In years following he labored to make its words a reality in Virginia. Most notably, he wrote a bill establishing religious freedom, enacted in 1786.

Jefferson succeeded Benjamin Franklin as minister to France in 1785. His sympathy for the French Revolution led him into conflict with Alexander Hamilton when Jefferson was Secretary of State in President Washington's Cabinet. He resigned in 1793.

Sharp political conflict developed, and two separate parties, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans, began to form. Jefferson gradually assumed leadership of the Republicans, who sympathized with the revolutionary cause in France. Attacking Federalist policies, he opposed a strong centralized Government and championed the rights of states.

As a reluctant candidate for President in 1796, Jefferson came within three votes of election. Through a flaw in the Constitution, he became Vice President, although an opponent of President Adams. In 1800 the defect caused a more serious problem. Republican electors, attempting to name both a President and a Vice President from their own party, cast a tie vote between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. The House of Representatives settled the tie. Hamilton, disliking both Jefferson and Burr, nevertheless urged Jefferson's election.

When Jefferson assumed the Presidency, the crisis in France had passed. He slashed Army and Navy expenditures, cut the budget, eliminated the tax on whiskey so unpopular in the West, yet reduced the national debt by a third. He also sent a naval squadron to fight the Barbary pirates, who were harassing American commerce in the Mediterranean. Further, although the Constitution made no provision for the acquisition of new land, Jefferson suppressed his qualms over constitutionality when he had the opportunity to acquire the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon in 1803.

During Jefferson's second term, he was increasingly preoccupied with keeping the Nation from involvement in the Napoleonic wars, though both England and France interfered with the neutral rights of American merchantmen. Jefferson's attempted solution, an embargo upon American shipping, worked badly and was unpopular.

Jefferson retired to Monticello to ponder such projects as his grand designs for the University of Virginia. A French nobleman observed that he had placed his house and his mind "on an elevated situation, from which he might contemplate the universe."

He died on July 4, 1826.

The relationship Jefferson had with Sally Hemings is the subject of sprited debate.

One of my favorite Jefferson quotes:

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants.
"I have sworn eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
This is the famous quote from the Jefferson memorial. The full quote, from Jeffersons letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush - Monticello, Sep. 23, 1800 reads:

"I promised you a letter on Christianity, which I have not forgotten. On the contrary, it is because I have reflected on it, that I find much more time necessary for it than I can at present dispose of. I have a view of the subject which ought to displease neither the rational Christian nor Deists, and would reconcile many to a character they have too hastily rejected. I do not know that it would reconcile the genus irritabile vatum who are all in arms against me. Their hostility is on too interesting ground to be softened. The delusion into which the X. Y. Z. plot shewed it possible to push the people; the successful experiment made under the prevalence of that delusion on the clause of the constitution, which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity thro' the U. S.; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians & Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: & enough too in their opinion, & this is the cause of their printing lying pamphlets against me, forging conversations for me with Mazzei, Bishop Madison, &c., which are absolute falsehoods without a circumstance of truth to rest on; falsehoods, too, of which I acquit Mazzei & Bishop Madison, for they are men of truth.
Thomas Jefferson was a complex person. There were deep ambiguities in his thinking, which made any effort at consistency impossible. Alhtough Federalist historians have cited these ambiguities as evidence of a moral taint, a constitutional shiftness of mind, they may in fact be traced to a continuously ambivalent personal and political history. He valued much more highly the achievements of his father, whom he intensely admired, than the social status of his mother, whose influence he never acknowledged; but from the beginning he was aware of both the asssurance of the aristoracy and the real merits and talents of men who came from unkown families.When he came to maturity, Jefferson was a slaveowner and yet a revolutionist, who could say that man's rights were "unalienable" at the very moment when heowned several dozen souls. All his life he circulated among men of wealth, learning, andd distinction, and as befitted one who disliked acrimony he learned to accommodate himself to them- but he also absorbed the most liberal and questionable opinions of his age and associated on congenial] terms with men like THomas Paine and Joel Barlow. In American politics he became a leader of yeomen farmers- but also of great planters. He was the head of a popular faction that stood against the commercial interests- but it was also a propertied faction with acquisitive aspirations of his own. He wanted with all his heart to hold the values of agrarian society, and yet be believed in progress. Add to all this the fact that he lived an unusually long life, saw many changes, and tried to adapt his views to changing circumstances.

One of his most famous quotes is from his First Inaugural Address:

"that man cannot be trusted with the government himself. Can he, then be trusted with the government of others?"

Early on in his illustrious career, Jefferson championed the rights of the agrarian farmer, defending the platform that, for America to remain a great republic, it must remain an agrarian power. However, by 1814, Jefferson saw 'the manufacturer by the side of the agriculturalist', and saw that it was good. Jefferson"s political and philosophical outlooks took a major change between 1790 and 1814, from staunch agriculturalist to accepting the necessity of industrialism, even embracing it to some extent.

Up until at least 1800 (and possibly as late as 1811), Jefferson fiercely fought the Federalists, taking a pro-agriculture stance in almost all issues. Raised on a plantation by a self-made father, early on he gained a deep respect for the Yeoman farmer, whom he saw as the wellspring of virtue. For him, only the farmer was independent enough to maintain a strong sense of individual responsibility and independent thought. He saw the American dream stretching across the Western borders, enough land to settle thousands of generations of Agrarian-based settlements upon which the American Republic might thrive. Cities, he reasoned upon looking at England, were the genesis of corruption and decay in government. As long as cities and manufacturing were avoided, the Republic would stand firm. What little did need to be manufactured could be imported from abroad. From this set of beliefs he developed a strong constituency among those whose wealth came from agriculture, mainly in the southern and western states, but also in the North as well. Finally, Jefferson gained enough support to win the much-contested 1800 presidential election.

During Jefferson"s two terms as president, his views on the Agrarian utopia slowly transformed to see both yeoman and manufacturer as essential to the well being of the Republic. Rather than any single event, this change was a slow process of give-and-take, which actually started before his presidency. The seeds to his change of heart were born in his early diplomatic journeys to France and Britain. At a younger age, he had detested the city and its citizens—he felt urban culture was rife with corruption, lechery, and other vices caused by overpopulation. However, upon journeying to the cities of France and Britain, he admired many working-class citizens of the countries, if deploring there treatment and living conditions. However, at this point he still believed in the superiority of the Agrarian lifestyle—it was only the force of political currents that changed his mind. Because the election was tied between Jefferson and Burr, Jefferson made several understood concessions to the leery Federalists, and although he detested it, Jefferson stood by those concessions. After the election, he attempted to cross the sharp partisan lines that had developed in order to tackle the more important issues. This was the cause for even more 'necessary evils' in the form of concessions to the Federalists. Yet perhaps the most important concessions weren't conciliatory, but necessary for the survival of the Union. Many of Hamilton's policies were so vital to the economy of one sector or another that to remove them would at best be a pyrrhic victory. So it was with grudging acceptance that Jefferson realized the necessity of pro-industrialist policies. Finally, the increasing tensions between the United States and Britain forced him to rethink his policy of importing most of what industry was needed. In order to survive, the Union must be self-sufficient. Jefferson now saw how both Agrarian and Industrialist policy and practice must be combined for a healthy, independent Republic.

Once Jefferson was convinced of the validity of an idea, he happily incorporated it into his policy. Perhaps the most dramatic showings of his policy shift towards industry were the Embargo act, which forced America to manufacture all of its own goods, and the more benign protective tariffs which encouraged home production over foreign imports. However, he did not abandon his agricultural dream, either. He greatly expanded America"s frontier with the Louisiana Purchase, increasing the availability of land to his beloved yeoman farmers. The American Dream, he now saw, 'must now place the manufacturer by the side of the agriculturalist.'

Jefferson's journey from champion of the yeoman to the bipartisan statesman was a long one, a slow process of compromise and adaptation to the times. However, he set the framework for a viable Republican government that would limit power of all interest groups, whether agrarian plantation owner or industrialist baron. Because he was willing to work with, rather than against, the Federalist minority, he averted several possible civil wars and allowed the government to function much more smoothly, a necessity as the shadow of war loomed not to far over the horizon.

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