April 13 is the birthday, and honorary holiday dedicated to our nation’s third President, Thomas Jefferson. ‘Thomas Jefferson Day’ is set aside to honor the many great works, political feats and accomplishments of this founding father.
In case history class was too far back to recall, here are some quick facts about Jefferson, sure to make him a man worth celebrating.
- …wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence.
- … was elected as the third President of the United States, serving two terms.
- …directed the Louisiana Purchase
- …sent Lewis & Clark on their famous expedition to the West.
- …was known for greeting people into the White House in his robe and slippers, and hosting less formal affairs to the point that he earned the nickname, “man of the people”.
- …knew how to speak several languages
- …is featured on the side of Mount Rushmore along with Washington, Roosevelt, and Lincoln.
- …was dedicated the Jefferson Memorial on April 13, 1943.
- …designed the original architecture and curriculum for the University of Virginia.
- …is featured on the $2.00 bill and the United States 5 cent nickel.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, here are also some rarely known and highly interesting facts about the man:
- …6’ tall and had red hair
- …a slave owner his entire life yet vigorously fought to abolish slavery at both the state and national level.
- …known to be a terrible money manager, Jefferson was in terrible debt most of his life, all the way to his death.
- …the writer of the original version of the Declaration of Independence which was then edited by Congress and a drafting committee and re-written into the version that we know and abide to this day.
- …the only two-term president who never vetoed a bill.
- …an eloquent writer and conversationalist, but terrible public speaker.
- …a gifted violin player. He played early in his life until 1786 when he broke his wrist attempting to impress a woman.
- …an avid reader. In 1815 Jefferson sold his library, 6,487 volumes to Congress in order to replace the collection that were burned by the British during the War of 1812. On Christmas Eve in 1851, a fire broke out, destroying nearly two-thirds of the volumes Jefferson sold.
Finally, on Jefferson’s tombstone, it reads:
“Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, Author of the Declaration of American Independence of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom and Father of the University of Virginia.”
Strangely, the epitaph makes no mention of his service as United States President. It is said that this is due to his mixed feelings about the politics.
Perhaps the following quote summarizes his political feelings: “I have no ambition to govern men; it is a painful and thankless office.”
Other famous quotes by Jefferson include:
- “I am a great believer in luck, and I find that the harder I work the more I have of it.”
- “In matters if style, swim with the current, in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
- “Never trouble another for what you can do for yourself.”
- “Delay is preferable to error.”
- “As or enemies have found we can reason like men, so now let us show them we can fight like men also.”
- “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”
Thomas Jefferson was also a lover of wine, quoting:
- “By making this wine vine known to the public, I have rendered my country as great a service as if I had enabled it to pay back the national debt.”
- “I live temperately…I double the doctor’s recommendation of a glass and a half of wine each day and even treble it with a friend.”
So, as suggested by the man himself, grab a friend and a bottle of wine and raise a glass in honor of this founding father and all his many unique eccentricities.