Thomas Jefferson ( April 13 , 1743 - July 4 , 1826 ) was the third ( 1801 - 1809 ) President of the United States .
His parents were Peter Jefferson ( March 29 , 1708 - August 17, 1757 ) and Jane Randolph (February 20 , 1720 - March 31, 1776) both from families who had settled in Virginia for several generations.
He was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence, and a source of many other contributions to American culture. Achievements of his presidency include the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
His home in Virginia was Monticello , near Charlottesville, Virginia, which included automatic doors and other convenient devices that he designed himself. He helped to found the University of Virginia .
Jefferson's interests included archaeology , a discipline then in its infancy. He has sometimes been called the "father of archaeology" in recognition of his role in developing excavation techniques. When exploring an Indian burial mound on his Virginia estate in 1784 , Jefferson avoided the common practice of simply digging downwards until something turned up. Instead, he cut a wedge out of the mound, so that he could walk into it, look at the layers of occupation and draw conclusions from them.
Jefferson was also an avid wine lover and noted gourmet. During his ambassadorship to France (1784-9) he took extensive trips through French and other European wine regions and sent the best back to the White House. He is noted for the bold pronouncement "We could in the United States make as great a variety of wines as are made in Europe, not exactly of the same kinds, but doubtless as good." While there were extensive vineyards planted at Monticello, a significant portion were V. vinifera and did not survive the many vine diseases native to the Americas. Thus, Jefferson himself was never able to produce wine on par with Europe. However, it seems likely that he would be pleased with the quantity and quality of wine now being made in Virginia.
Jefferson's ideal for the United States was that of an agricultural nation of yeoman farmers, in contrast to the vision of Alexander Hamilton , who envisioned a nation of commerce and manufacturing.
Like many landholders of his time, Jefferson owned slaves. A subject of considerable controversy since Jefferson's own time was whether Jefferson was the father of any of the children of his slave Sally Hemings .
An electoral tie resulted between Jefferson and his opponent Aaron Burr in the U.S. presidential election, 1800. It was resolved on February 17 , 1801 when Jefferson was elected President and Burr Vice President by the United States House of Representatives .
Jefferson's portrait appears on the U.S. $2 bill.