A proponent of democracy, republicanism, and individual rights motivating American colonists to break from Great Britain and form a new nation, he produced formative documents and decisions at both the state and national level. Jefferson was primarily of English ancestry, born and educated in colonial Virginia.
He graduated from the College of William & Mary and briefly practiced law, at times defending slaves seeking their freedom.
During their ten years of marriage, Martha bore six children: Martha "Patsy" (1772–1836); Jane (1774–1775); a son who lived for only a few weeks in 1777; Mary Wayles "Polly" (1778–1804); Lucy Elizabeth (1780–1781); and another Lucy Elizabeth (1782–1785).
He became the United States Minister to France in May 1785, and subsequently the nation's first Secretary of State in 1790–1793 under President George Washington.Jefferson improved his French and Greek and his skill at the violin. He read the law under Professor George Wythe's tutelage to obtain his law license, while working as a law clerk in Wythe's office.The British burned the Library of Congress that year; he then sold more than 6,000 books to the Library for ,950.This is what is called personal liberty, and is given him by the author of nature, because it is necessary for his own sustenance." The judge cut him off and ruled against his client.As a consolation, Jefferson gave his client some money, conceivably used to aid his escape shortly thereafter.Some modern scholarship has been critical of Jefferson's private life, pointing out the contradiction between his ownership of slaves and his famous declaration that "all men are created equal." He continues to rank highly among U. Peter Jefferson moved his family to Tuckahoe Plantation in 1745 upon the death of William Randolph, the plantation's owner and Jefferson's friend, who in his will had named him guardian of his children.