Thomas Jefferson needs no introduction. He was one of America’s founding fathers and led the charge for the declaration of independence from Britain. It is also common knowledge that he increased the landmass of America exponentially through the purchase of Louisiana. However, what about his personal life? Who were his parents, his wife, children and siblings? All these, and much more, are unveiled below.
Thomas Jefferson’s Bio
Thomas Jefferson was born on the 13th of April 1743 in the town of Shadwell, Virginia. He grew up in his beloved Shadwell and attended several schools including the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The future president also studied diverse subjects, such as maths, science, history, and philosophy, under the tutelage of several accomplished tutors. Jefferson thereafter studied law under renowned professor, George Wythe, and obtained his license in 1767. Thomas Jefferson commenced his legal practice in 1767, and practiced for three years, before delving into public service.
His first taste of public office was in 1769 when he was elected a member of the Virginia legislature. From this humble debut, he would go on to serve as the Governor of Virginia (1779 – 1781), The United States Minister to France (1785 – 1789), United States Secretary of State (1790 – 1793), Vice President of The United States (1797 – 1801) and President of the United States of America (1801 – 1809). Jefferson believed in and vigorously pursued, several ideals during his lifetime. They include freedom and equality of all men as well as religious freedom. The Virginia native was an early advocate of the separation of the state from the church.
Parents and Siblings
Thomas Jefferson hailed from a family of 12. His fathers’ name was Peter Jefferson while his mother’s name was Jane Randolph. His father was a planter, surveyor and plantation owner. The senior Jefferson made sure that his son received a formal education even though he himself was self-taught. Jefferson’s father passed away in 1758 and he subsequently inherited 5,000 acres of land. He, however, did not maintain a home on this land but choose to site his abode on the top of a local mountain. The statesman also continued his father’s agriculture business and grew different kinds of crops, flowers, and sprouts. With regards to siblings, Jefferson had six sisters and three brothers. Their names were Lucy, Jane, Martha, Anna, Mary, Elizabeth, Randolph, Peter field and Peter Thomas. Jefferson also had an adopted brother named Thomas Mann Jefferson.
Thomas Jefferson’s Family (Wife and Children)
Thomas Jefferson’s love life is one controversial aspect of his legacy. The renowned statesman first got married to his third cousin, Martha Wayles Skelton, in January 1772. Skelton’s father was a wealthy land and slaveholder known as John Wayles. As such, her husband received much slaves and land as part of her dowry. Jefferson’s marriage to Martha lasted for ten years during which she pleased her husband with her expertise in music and needlework as well as her reading habit. Martha eventually passed away on the 6th of September 1782. Before her death, she reportedly extracted a deathbed promise from her husband to the effect that he would never re-marry.
Jefferson’s marriage to Mary produced six children comprising of one son, Peter, and five daughters namely Martha, Jane, Mary Wayles Polly, Lucy Elizabeth, and another Lucy Elizabeth. Most of these children died in childhood while two, Martha and Mary, lived into adulthood. Martha was the only one amongst her siblings who survived both of her parents. She lived from 1772 to 1836 (64 years) and married Virginia politician, later governor, Thomas Mann Randolph Jr. They had 13 children together, out of which 11 survived into adulthood.
Thomas Jefferson’s Affair with Sally Hemings
After the death of his first wife, Thomas Jefferson had a relationship with an African-American slave named Sally Hemings. Hemings was one of six children borne out of a relationship between a slave, Elizabeth Hemings, and her owner, John Wayles (who would go on to become Jefferson’s father-in-law). Sally was, therefore, the paternal half-sister of Jefferson’s wife, Martha Wayles Skelton. Jefferson’s affair with Sally lasted for several years and produced six children. Four out of these six children survived into adulthood. They are daughter, Harriet and sons – Beverly, Madison, and Eston. The Hemingses received special privileges in the Jefferson household. Their father also freed all of them. He freed Harriet and Beverly during his lifetime while he freed Madison and Eston in his will.