American Culture: Thomas Jefferson Mini Biography
Thomas Jefferson, author of the American Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president, was born on April 13, 1743, at the Shadwell plantation located just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia — near the western edge of Great Britain’s American Empire.
Jefferson was born into one of the most prominent families of Virginia’s planter elite. His mother, Jane Randolph Jefferson, was a member of the proud Randolph clan, a family claiming descent from English and Scottish royalty. His father, Peter Jefferson, was a successful farmer as well as a skilled surveyor and cartographer who produced the first accurate map of the Province of Virginia. The young Jefferson was the third born of ten siblings.
As a boy, Thomas Jefferson’s favorite pastimes were playing in the woods, practicing the violin and reading. He began his formal education at the age of nine, studying Latin and Greek at a local private school run by the Reverend William Douglas. In 1757, at the age of 14, he took up further study of the classical languages as well as literature and mathematics with the Reverend James Maury, whom Jefferson later described as “a correct classical scholar.”