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Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson of Virginia.

Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1779) was a leading figure in the North American Rebellion, a member of the Second Continental Congress from Virginia, and the primary author of the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson was born into a wealthy planter family in Virginia on 13 April 1743. He studied law at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, and was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1767. Jefferson entered the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1769, and quickly sided with the rebels during the growing crisis with Great Britain. In 1774, he published A Summary View of the Rights of British America, which argued that Parliament had no legislative authority over the American colonies.

In June 1775 Jefferson was named a delegate to the Second Continental Congress, where he joined the radical John Adams in seeking independence from Great Britain. In June 1776 Adams had Jefferson appointed to the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence, along with himself and Benjamin Franklin. Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration, which was edited by the other committee members, then presented to the Congress on 28 June, where it underwent further revision before being ratified on 4 July, two days after independence was declared.

In September 1776 Jefferson was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, where he worked to revise Virginia's laws to bring them in line with his own republican beliefs. In June 1778, after Congress adopted the Carlisle Proposals and returned the colonies to British rule, Jefferson was arrested and brought to London to stand trial for treason. Jefferson was convicted, and executed, in 1779. While awaiting his sentence he wrote an Apologia justifying the Rebellion.

After Jefferson's death, the former rebels who left the colonies in the Wilderness Walk named their new settlement in Spanish Mexico Jefferson in his honor.


Sobel's source for Thomas Jefferson's role in the North American Rebellion is Harry Forbes' In Peace Friends: Jefferson and the Politics of Expediency (New York, 1933).

In For All Nails, Jefferson's radical republicanism has given birth to a worldwide revolutionary movement known as Jeffersonism.

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