Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson on

Religion and Liberty


Say nothing of my religion. It is known to my god and myself alone.

-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to John Adams, 11 January 1817, in Lester Cappon, ed. The Adams-Jefferson Letters, (1959) p. 506, quoted from Jeremy Koselak, "The Exaltation of a Reasonable Deity: Thomas Jefferson’s Critique of Christianity"


I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Ezra Stiles Ely (June 25, 1819), quoted from Dickinson W Adams, ed, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series (Princeton University Press, 1983; note that attributions saying "Ezra Stiles, president of Yale University (June 25, 1819)" are incorrect, as that Ezra Stiles died in 1795) ††


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.

-- Thomas Jefferson, considering three different explanations for why sea shells would be found at higher elevations than one should reasonably expect an ocean to have existed, in Notes on the State of Virginia ††


Human Liberty; Inalienable Rights


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

-- Declaration of Independence as originally written by Thomas Jefferson, 1776. ME 1:29, Papers 1:315 (Some believe Thomas Paine wrote the original draft from which Jefferson and Adams copied the earliest surviving drafts [which contained stern denunciations against human slavery typical of Paine but not of Jefferson, and that it contains word usage typical of Paine's writings but not of Jefferson's], and that this was the secret which Paine, in a letter, assured George Washington that he had "ever been dumb on everything which might touch national honor" and would remain so. Since it was Jefferson's appointed duty to draft the Declaration, it behooved them not to divulge that it came from another's pen, though everyone during those times agreed that Paine's pen was the most elequent of that era. [Arguments derived from Joseph Lewis.])

[Our] principles [are] founded on the immovable basis of equal right and reason.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to James Sullivan, 1797. ME 9:379


An equal application of law to every condition of man is fundamental.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to George Hay, 1807. ME 11:341


I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Archibald Stuart (1791)


That liberty [is pure] which is to go to all, and not to the few or the rich alone.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio Gates (1798)


Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add "within the limits of the law" because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Isaac H Tiffany (1819)


The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.

-- Thomas Jefferson, note in Destutt de Tracy, "Political Economy," 1816. ME 14:465


To unequal privileges among members of the same society the spirit of our nation is, with one accord, adverse."

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Hugh White, 1801. ME 10:258


All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression.

-- Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801


And let us reflect that, having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions.... error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.... I deem the essential principles of our government.... Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political; ... freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of person under the protection of the habeas corpus, and trial by juries impartially selected.

-- Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801


In America, no other distinction between man and man had ever been known but that of persons in office exercising powers by authority of the laws, and private individuals. Among these last, the poorest laborer stood on equal ground with the wealthiest millionaire, and generally on a more favored one whenever their rights seem to jar.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Answers to de Meusnier Questions, 1786. ME 17:8


Of distinction by birth or badge, [Americans] had no more idea than they had of the mode of existence in the moon or planets. They had heard only that there were such, and knew that they must be wrong.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Answers to de Meusnier Questions, 1786. ME 17:89


[The] best principles [of our republic] secure to all its citizens a perfect equality of rights.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Reply to the Citizens of Wilmington, 1809. ME 16:336


It is surely time for men to think for themselves, and to throw off the authority of names so artificially magnified.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Short, August 4, 1820 (see Positive Atheism's Historical section)


In reviewing the history of the times through which we have passed, no portion of it gives greater satisfaction or reflection, than that which represents the efforts of the friends of religious freedom and the success with which they are crowned.

-- Thomas Jefferson, from Henry Wilder Foote, Thomas Jefferson: Champion of Religious Freedom (1947), quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom


It behoves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803


To preserve the freedom of the human mind then and freedom of the press, every spirit should be ready to devote itself to martyrdom; for as long as we may think as we will, and speak as we think, the condition of man will proceed in improvement.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Green Mumford, June 18, 1799


May it [the Declaration of Independence] be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day [July 4th] forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them....

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Roger C Weightman, June 24, 1826, Jefferson's last letter, declining, due to ill health, an invitation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of that document; Jefferson died ten days later, the very day ot the 50th anniversary of the Declaration's signing (John Adams died a few hours later, not knowing that Jefferson had also died)


Religious Liberty


 Among the most inestimable of our blessings is that ... of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will; a liberty deemed in other countries incompatible with good government and yet proved by our experience to be its best support.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Reply to Baptist Address, 1807

From the dissensions among Sects themselves arise necessarily a right of choosing and necessity of deliberating to which we will conform. But if we choose for ourselves, we must allow others to choose also, and so reciprocally, this establishes religious liberty.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers, 1:545


The rights [to religious freedom] are of the natural rights of mankind, and ... if any act shall be ... passed to repeal [an act granting those rights] or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. Papers, 2:546 (see Positive Atheism's Historical section)


The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82 (capitalization of the word god is retained per original; see Positive Atheism's Historical Section)


Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity of opinion desirable? No more than of face and stature.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia, 1782


Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82


I know it will give great offense to the clergy, but the advocate of religious freedom is to expect neither peace nor forgiveness from them.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Levi Lincoln, 1802. ME 10:305


I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a fact like this can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too, as an offence against religion; that a question about the sale of a book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is this then our freedom of religion? and are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule for what we are to read, and what we must believe? It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of truth and reason.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to N G Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814, after being prosecuted for selling de Becourt's book, Sur la Création du Monde, un Systême d'Organisation Primitive, which Jefferson himself had purchased (see Positive Atheism's Historical section)


If M de Becourt's book be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But, for God's sake, let us freely hear both sides, if we choose.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to N G Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814, after being prosecuted for selling de Becourt's book, Sur la Création du Monde, un Systême d'Organisation Primitive, which Jefferson himself had purchased (see Positive Atheism's Historical section)


[N]o man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1779), quoted from Merrill D Peterson, ed., Thomas Jefferson: Writings (1984), p. 347


I am for freedom of religion, & against all maneuvres to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, 1799 (see Positive Atheism's Historical section)


I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance, or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Dowse, April 19, 1803




The 'Wall of Separation,' Again:

Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person's life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the "wall of separation between church and state," therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.

     We have solved ... the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to the Virginia Baptists (1808). This is his second use of the term "wall of separation," here quoting his own use in the Danbury Baptist letter. This wording was several times upheld by the Supreme Court as an accurate description of the Establishment Clause: Reynolds (98 US at 164, 1879); Everson (330 US at 59, 1947); McCollum (333 US at 232, 1948)




Supreme Court: Clause Erects 'Wall of Separation'


"In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation' between church and state."

-- Hugo Black, Everson v. Board of Education (1947) ††


Government Intermeddling


Religion is a subject on which I have ever been most scrupulously reserved. I have considered it as a matter between every man and his Maker in which no other, and far less the public, had a right to intermeddle.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Richard Rush, 1813

In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general government. I have therefore undertaken on no occasion to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have left them as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of State or Church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Second Inaugural Address, 1805. ME 3:378


Our Constitution ... has not left the religion of its citizens under the power of its public functionaries, were it possible that any of these should consider a conquest over the conscience of men either attainable or applicable to any desirable purpose.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Reply to New London Methodists, 1809


To suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. Papers, 2: 546 (see Positive Atheism's Historical Section)


The impious presumption of legislators and and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time: That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical;...

-- Thomas Jefferson, expressing concern over the authoritarian interpretation of religious views, and advocating, rather, that states allow an individual to use her or his own reason to establish or settle these opinions, in the opening passage to Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786), quoted from Merrill D Peterson, ed., Thomas Jefferson: Writings (1984), p. 346


Our particular principles of religion are a subject of accountability to God alone.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Miles King, 26 September 1814, quoted from Roche, OIA, ed. The Jeffersonian Bible (1964) p. 328


To Proclaim a Day of Fasting & Prayer!?


I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling in religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment, or free exercise, of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in religious discipline has been delegated to the General Government. It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority.

     But it is only proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe a day of fasting & prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the US an authority over religious exercises which the Constitution has directly precluded them from.... I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct it's exercises, it's discipline, or it's doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them. Fasting & prayer are religious exercises. The enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the times for these exercises, & the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and this right can never be safer than in their own hands, where the constitution has deposited it. I am aware that the practice of my predecessors may be quoted.... Be this as it may, every one must act according to the dictates of his own reason, & mine tells me that civil powers alone have been given to the President of the US and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Samuel Miller, January 23, 1808 (see Positive Atheism's Historical section)


Establishment of Religion


What a conspiracy this,

          between church and state!

     Sing Tantarara, rogues all, rogues all!

     Sing Tantarara, rogues all!

               -- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Cartwright, June 25, 1824, commenting specifically on the popular but false claim that the establishment of the Christian religion had been part of the Common Law of England, as the United States Constitution defaults to the Common Law regarding matters that the Constitution itself does not address


The 'Wall of Separation':

Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Danbury Baptists, 1802 (emphasis ours). This was used again by Jefferson in his letter to the Virginia Baptsits, and was several times upheld by the Supreme Court as an accurate description of the Establishment Clause: Reynolds (98 US at 164, 1879); Everson (330 US at 59, 1947); McCollum (333 US at 232, 1948)


... the common law existed while the Anglo-Saxons were yet pagans, at a time when they had never yet heard the name of Christ pronounced or knew that such a character existed.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Major John Cartwright, June 5, 1824 (see Positive Atheism's Historical section)


Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the common law.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814, responding to the claim that Chritianity was part of the Common Law of England, as the United States Constitution defaults to the Common Law regarding matters that it does not address. This argument is still used today by "Christian Nation" revisionists who do not admit to having read Thomas Jefferson's thorough research of this matter.


For we know that the common law is that system of law which was introduced by the Saxons on their settlement of England, and altered from time to time by proper legislative authority from that time to the date of the Magna Charta, which terminates the period of the common law ... This settlement took place about the middle of the fifth century. But Christianity was not introduced till the seventh century; the conversion of the first Christian king of the Heptarchy having taken place about the year 598, and that of the last about 686. Here then, was a space of two hundred years, during which the common law was in existence, and Christianity no part of it ... That system of religion could not be a part of the common law, because they were not yet Christians.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814, responding to the claim that Chritianity was part of the Common Law of England, as the United States Constitution defaults to the Common Law regarding matters that it does not address. This argument is still used today by "Christian Nation" revisionists who do not admit to having read Thomas Jefferson's thorough research of this matter.


But every state, says an inquisitor, has established some religion. No two, say I, have established the same. Is this a proof of the infallibility of establishments?

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82


The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Jeremiah Moor, 1800


... [A] short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandising their oppressors in Church and State; that the purest system of morals ever before preached to man, has been adulterated and sophisticated by artificial constructions, into a mere contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves; that rational men not being able to swallow their impious heresies, in order to force them down their throats, they raise the hue and cry of infidelity, while themselves are the greatest obstacles to the advancement of the real doctrines of Jesus, and do in fact constitute the real Anti-Christ.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Samuel Kercheval, 1810 (see Positive Atheism's Historical section)


[If] the nature of ... government [were] a subordination of the civil to the ecclesiastical power, I [would] consider it as desperate for long years to come. Their steady habits [will] exclude the advances of information, and they [will] seem exactly where they [have always been]. And there [the] clergy will always keep them if they can. [They] will follow the bark of liberty only by the help of a tow-rope.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Pierrepont, Edwards, July 1801, quoted from Eyler Robert Coates, Sr., "Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government: Freedom of Religion"


This doctrine ["that the condition of man cannot be ameliorated, that what has been must ever be, and that to secure ourselves where we are we must tread with awful reverence in the footsteps of our fathers"] is the genuine fruit of the alliance between Church and State, the tenants of which finding themselves but too well in their present condition, oppose all advances which might unmask their usurpations and monopolies of honors, wealth and power, and fear every change as endangering the comforts they now hold.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Report for University of Virginia, 1818


I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendency of one sect over another.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Elbridge Gerry, 1799. ME 10:78


To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. Papers, 1:545


History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813 (see Positive Atheism's Historical section)


In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own. It is easier to acquire wealth and power by this combination than by deserving them, and to effect this, they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purposes.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Horatio G Spafford, March 17, 1814


It is error alone that needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia


The Christian religion, when divested of the rags in which they [the clergy] have enveloped it, and brought to the original purity and simplicity of it's benevolent institutor, is a religion of all others most friendly to liberty, science, and the freest expansion of the human mind.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Moses Robinson, 1801, ME 10:237


Turning, then, from this loathsome combination of church and state, and weeping over the follies of our fellow men, who yield themselves the willing dupes and drudges of these mountebanks, I consider reformation and redress as desperate, and abandon them to the Quixotism of more enthusiastic minds.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Charles Clay, January 29, 1815; Writings, XIV, 232




'Eternal Hostility' Against Whom?



The clergy ... [wishing to establish their particular form of Christianity] ... believe that any portion of power confided to me [as President] will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Benjamin Rush, 1800. ME 10:173 (capitalization of the word god is retained per original (see inset); see full letter in Positive Atheism's Historical section)



I promised you a letter on Christianity, which I have not forgotten. On the contrary, it is because I have reflected on it, that I find much more time necessary for it than I can at present dispose of. I have a view of the subject which ought to displease neither the rational Christian nor Deists, and would reconcile many to a character they have too hastily rejected. I do not know that it would reconcile the genus irritabile vatum who are all in arms against me. Their hostility is on too interesting ground to be softened. The delusion into which the XYZ plot shewed it possible to push the people; the successful experiment made under the prevalence of that delusion on the clause of the constitution, which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity thro' the US; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, every one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians & Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes, & they believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god,eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: & enough too in their opinion, & this is the cause of their printing lying pamphlets against me, forging conversations for me with Mazzei, Bishop Madison, &c., which are absolute falsehoods without a circumstance of truth to rest on; falsehoods, too, of which I acquit Mazzei & Bishop Madison, for they are men of truth.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Benjamin Rush, 1800. ME 10:173 (capitalization of the word god is retained per original (see inset); see full letter Positive Atheism's Historical section)




Supreme Court: Clause Erects 'Wall of Separation'


"In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect 'a wall of separation' between church and state."

-- Hugo Black, Everson v. Board of Education (1947) ††





Benefits of Religious Liberty



[When] the [Virginia] bill for establishing religious freedom ... was finally passed, ... a singular proposition proved that its protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion." The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend within the mantle of its protection the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo and infidel of every denomination.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, 1821


The law for religious freedom ... [has] put down the aristocracy of the clergy and restored to the citizen the freedom of the mind.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to John Adams, 1813


Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion. The several sects perform the office of a censor morum over each other.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82


No man [should] be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor [should he] be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor ... otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief ... All men [should] be free to profess and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and ... the same [should] in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. Papers, 2:546 (see Positive Atheism's Historical section)


Our civil rights have no dependence upon our religious opinions more than our opinions in physics or geometry.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. Papers, 2:545


We have no right to prejudice another in his civil enjoyments because he is of another church.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers, 1:546


The proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right.

-- Thomas Jefferson, "Statute for Religious Freedom," 1779. Papers, 2:546


Our [Virginia's] act for freedom of religion is extremely applauded. The Ambassadors and ministers of the several nations of Europe resident at this court have asked me copies of it to send to their sovereigns, and it is inserted at full length in several books now in the press; among others, in the new Encyclopédie. I think it will produce considerable good even in those countries where ignorance, superstition, poverty and oppression of body and mind in every form, are so firmly settled on the mass of the people, that their redemption from them can never be hoped.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Wythe from Paris, August 13, 1786


The Virginia act for religious freedom has been received with infinite approbation in Europe, and propagated with enthusiasm. I do not mean by governments, but by the individuals who compose them. It has been translated into French and Italian; has been sent to most of the courts of Europe, and has been the best evidence of the falsehood of those reports which stated us to be in anarchy. It is inserted in the new "Encyclopédie," and is appearing in most of the publications respecting America. In fact, it is comfortable to see the standard of reason at length erected, after so many ages, during which the human mind has been held in vassalage by kings, priests, and nobles; and it is honorable for us, to have produced the first legislature who had the courage to declare, that the reason of man may be trusted with the formation of his own opinions.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, from Paris, December 16, 1786



Our sister states of Pennsylvania and New York, however, have long subsisted without any establishment at all. The experiment was new and doubtful when they made it. It has answered beyond conception. They flourish infinitely. Religion is well supported; of various kinds, indeed, but all good enough; all sufficient to preserve peace and order: or if a sect arises, whose tenets would subvert morals, good sense has fair play, and reasons and laughs it out of doors, without suffering the state to be troubled with it. They do not hang more malefactors than we do. They are not more disturbed with religious dissensions. On the contrary, their harmony is unparalleled, and can be ascribed to nothing but their unbounded tolerance, because there is no other circumstance in which they differ from every nation on earth. They have made the happy discovery, that the way to silence religious disputes, is to take no notice of them.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82


Life is of no value but as it brings us gratifications. Among the most valuable of these is rational society. It informs the mind, sweetens the temper, cheers our spirits, and promotes health.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, February 20, 1784





Religion and the Law



If a sect arises whose tenets would subvert morals, good sense has fair play and reasons and laughs it out of doors without suffering the State to be troubled with it.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82

The declaration that religious faith shall be unpunished does not give immunity to criminal acts dictated by religious error.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to James Madison, 1788. ME 7:98


If anything pass in a religious meeting seditiously and contrary to the public peace, let it be punished in the same manner and no otherwise than as if it had happened in a fair or market.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers, 1:548


It is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere [in the propagation of religious teachings] when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Statute for Religious Freedom, 1779. Papers, 2:546


Whatsoever is lawful in the Commonwealth or permitted to the subject in the ordinary way cannot be forbidden to him for religious uses; and whatsoever is prejudicial to the Commonwealth in their ordinary uses and, therefore, prohibited by the laws, ought not to be permitted to churches in their sacred rites. For instance, it is unlawful in the ordinary course of things or in a private house to murder a child; it should not be permitted any sect then to sacrifice children. It is ordinarily lawful (or temporarily lawful) to kill calves or lambs; they may, therefore, be religiously sacrificed. But if the good of the State required a temporary suspension of killing lambs, as during a siege, sacrifices of them may then be rightfully suspended also. This is the true extent of toleration.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers, 1:547





Religion and Dogma



The natural course of the human mind is certainly from credulity to skepticism.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Caspar Wistar (June 21, 1807), quoted from Encarta® Book of Quotations (1999)


Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because, if there be one, he must approve the homage of reason rather than of blind-folded fear. Do not be frightened from this inquiry by any fear of its consequences.... If it end in a belief that there is no god, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise and in the love of others it will procure for you.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Peter Carr, 10 Aug. 1787. (original capitalization of the word god is retained per original)

It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of truth and reason.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to N G Dufief, April 19, 1814 (see Positive Atheism's Historical section)


They have made the happy discovery, that the way to silence religious disputes, is to take no notice of them.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82 (see Positive Atheism's Historical section)


Nothing but free argument, raillery and even ridicule will preserve the purity of religion.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush. 21 April 1803, quoted from Roche, OIA, ed. The Jeffersonian Bible (1964) p. 348


I may grow rich by an art I am compelled to follow; I may recover health by medicines I am compelled to take against my own judgment; but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve and abhor.

-- Thomas Jefferson, notes for a speech, ca. 1776, quoted from Gorton Carruth and Eugene Ehrlich, The Harper Book of American Quotations (1988)


Our particular principles of religion are a subject of accountability to our God alone.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Miles King, 26 September 1814, quoted from Roche, OIA, ed. The Jeffersonian Bible (1964) p. 328


I am anxious to see the doctrine of one god commenced in our state. But the population of my neighborhood is too slender, and is too much divided into other sects to maintain any one preacher well. I must therefore be contented to be an Unitarian by myself, although I know there are many around me who would become so, if once they could hear the questions fairly stated.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse, January 8, 1825


I trust there is not a young man now living in the United States who will not die a Unitarian.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Waterhouse, June 26, 1822


If we did a good act merely from the love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to Him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist? It is idle to say, as some do, that no such thing exists. We have the same evidence of the fact as of most of those we act on, to wit: their own affirmations, and their reasonings in support of them. I have observed, indeed, generally, that while in Protestant countries the defections from the Platonic Christianity of the priests is to Deism, in Catholic countries they are to Atheism. Diderot, D'Alembert, D'Holbach, Condorcet, are known to have been among the most virtuous of men. Their virtue, then, must have had some other foundation than love of God.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Law, June 13, 1814, using the term atheist to mean one who lacks a god belief, not one who is without morals, as was a common use of the term in Jefferson's day


The Christian priesthood, finding the doctrines of Christ leveled to every understanding, and too plain to need explanation, saw, in the mysticism of Plato, materials with which they might build up an artificial system which might, from it’s indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power and pre-eminence.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, July 5, 1814, Lester Cappon, ed., The Adams-Jefferson Letters (1959) p. 433


I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a new view of the Universe, in its parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition. The movements of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces, the structure of our earth itself, with it’s distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere, animal and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles ... it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe that there is, in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things from matter and motion ... We see, too, evident proofs of the necessity of a superintending power to maintain the Universe in it’s course and order.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, quoted in Lester Cappon, ed. The Adams-Jefferson Letters, (1959) p. 592, describing an almost universal reason for believing that a Creator exists --almost universal, that is, until Charles Darwin published Origin of Species, thereby providing an explanation for apparent design


I concur with you strictly in your opinion of the comparative merits of atheism and demonism, and really see nothing but the latter in the being worshiped by many who think themselves Christians.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Price from Paris, January 8, 1789. (Price had said, "There has been in almost all religions a melancholy separation of religion from morality." Surely Jefferson is using the word atheism as a synonym for wickedness or immorality; this was a common and accepted usage of the word 200 years ago. -- Cliff Walker)


Every Christian sect gives a great handle to Atheism by their general dogma that, without a revelation, there would not be sufficient proof of the being of god.

-- Thomas Jefferson, arguing that Chrisian exclusivism (via the idea of an exclusive revelation) degrades the credibility of the Christian religion, in a letter to John Adams, 11 April 1823 (capitalization of god per original)




Religion and Brutality


[Creeds] have been the bane and ruin of the Christian church, its own fatal invention, which, through so many ages, made of Christendom a slaughterhouse, and at this day divides it into castes of inextinguishable hatred to one another.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Whitmore, June 5, 1822, quoted from James A Haught, editor, 2000 Years of Disbelief


On the dogmas of religion, as distinguished from moral principles, all mankind, from the beginning of the world to this day, have been quarreling, fighting, burning and torturing one another, for abstractions unintelligible to themselves and to all others, and absolutely beyond the comprehension of the human mind.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Archibald Carey, 1816


A single zealot may commence persecutor, and better men be his victims.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82


His [Calvin's] religion was demonism. If ever a man worshiped a false god, he did. The being described in his five points is ... a demon of malignant spirit. It would be more pardonable to believe in no God at all, than to blaspheme him by the atrocious, attributes of Calvin.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Works, 1829 edition, vol. 4, p. 322, quoted from Franklin Steiner,


If anybody thinks that kings, nobles, or priests are good conservators of the public happiness send them here [Europe]. It is the best school in the universe to cure them of that folly. They will see here with their own eyes that these descriptions of men are an abandoned confederacy against the happiness of the mass of people. The omnipotence of their effect cannot be better proved than in this country [France] particularly, where notwithstanding the finest soil upon earth, the finest climate under heaven, and a people of the most benevolent, the most gay and amiable character of which the human form is susceptible, where such a people I say, surrounded by so many blessings from nature, are yet loaded with misery by kings, nobles and priests, and by them alone.

-- Thomas Jefferson, writing from Paris to George Wythe


No man complains of his neighbor for ill management of his affairs, for an error in sowing his land or marrying his daughter, for consuming his substance in taverns.... In all these he has liberty; but if he does not frequent the church, or then conform in ceremonies, there is an immediate uproar.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82


I am not afraid of the priests. They have tried upon me all their various batteries, of pious whining, hypocritical canting, lying and slandering, without being able to give me one moment of pain.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio Gates Spafford, 1816




Religion and Absurdity


I have ever judged of the religion of others by their lives.... It is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be read. By the same test the world must judge me. But this does not satisfy the priesthood. They must have a positive, a declared assent to all their interested absurdities. My opinion is that there would never have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest. The artificial structures they have built on the the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolt those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Mrs. M Harrison Smith, August 6, 1816


If by religion we are to understand sectarian dogmas, in which no two of them agree, then your exclamation on that hypothesis is just, "that this would be the best of worlds if there were no religion in it."

-- Thomas Jefferson, in a reply to John Adams' letter, quoted by Joseph Lewis in his address "Jefferson the Freethinker," delivered at a banquet of the Freethinkers' Society of New York on the evening of April 13th, 1925, at Hotel Belleclaire, 77th Street and Broadway, New York City, in honor of the 182nd anniversary of the birth of Thomas Jefferson.


The priests of the different religious sects ... dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight, and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subdivision of the duperies on which they live.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Correa de Serra, April 11, 1820, quoted from James A Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief


Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp July 30, 1816, denouncing the doctrine of the Trinity and suggesting it to be so riddled in falsehood that only an authoritarian figure could decipher its meaning and, with a firm grip on people's spiritual and mental freedoms, thus convince the people of its truthfulness


Of publishing a book on religion, my dear sir, I never had an idea. I should as soon think of writing for the reformation of Bedlam, as of the world of religious sects. Of these there must be, at least, ten thousand, every individual of every one of which believes all wrong but his own.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Rev Charles Clay, rector of Jefferson's parish church in Albemarle County, Va., January 29, 1815


To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, god, are immaterial, is to say they are nothings, or that there is no god, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise ... without plunging into the fathomless abyss of dreams and phantasms. I am satisfied, and sufficiently occupied with the things which are, without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, August 15, 1820


I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Woods (undated), referring to "our particular superstition," Christianity, from John E Remsburg, Six Historic Americans: Thomas Jefferson, quoted from Franklin Steiner, Religious Beliefs of Our Presidents (1936), "Thomas Jefferson, Freethinker"


The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823, quoted from James A Haught, "Breaking the Last Taboo" (1996)


It is between fifty and sixty years since I read the Apocalypse, and I then considered it merely the ravings of a maniac, no more worthy, nor capable of explanation than the incoherences of our own nightly dreams.... what has no meaning admits no explanation.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to Alexander Smyth, January 17, 1825


We find in the writings of his biographers ... a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications.

-- Thomas Jefferson, to William Short, August 4, 1822, referring to Jesus's biographers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.


That sect had presented for the object of their worship, a being of terrific character, cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust.

-- Thomas Jefferson, referring to the god of the Jews under Moses, in his letter to William Short (August 4, 1822)


Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, none appear to me so pure as that of Jesus. He who follows this steadily need not, I think, be uneasy, although he cannot comprehend the subtleties and mysteries erected on his doctrines by those who, calling themselves his special followers and favorites, would make him come into the world to lay snares for all understandings but theirs. These metaphysical heads, usurping the judgment seat of God, denounce as his enemies all who cannot perceive the Geometrical logic of Euclid in the demonstrations of St Athanasius, that three are one, and one is three; and yet that the one is not three nor the three one.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Canby (September 18, 1813)


It is too late in the day for men of sincerity to pretend they believe in the Platonic mysticism that three are one and one is three, and yet, that the one is not three, and the three not one.... But this constitutes the craft, the power, and profits of the priests. Sweep away their gossamer fabrics of fictitious religion, and they would catch no more flies.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams (August 22, 1813), Works, Vol. IV, p. 205, Randolph's edition


The metaphysical insanities of Athanasius, of Loyola, and of Calvin, are, to my understanding, mere relapses into polytheism, differing from paganism only by being more unintelligible. The religion of Jesus is founded in the Unity of God, and this principle chiefly, gave it triumph over the rabble of heathen gods then acknowledged.

-- Thomas Jefferson, equating the Dogma of the Trinity with polytheism and calling it more unintelligible than paganism, in his letter to Rev Jared Sparks upon receipt of the latters' latest book (November 4, 1820)


The hocus-pocus phantasm of a god like another Cerberus, with one body and three heads, had its birth and growth in the blood of thousands and thousands of martyrs.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Smith, December 8, 1822 Jefferson's Works, Vol. IV, 360, Randolph's ed.


In our Richmond there is much fanaticism, but chiefly among the women. They have their night meetings and prayer parties, where, attended by their priests, and sometimes by a hen-pecked husband, they pour forth the effusions of their love to Jesus, in terms as amatory and carnal, as their modesty would permit them to use a mere earthly lover.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, November 2, 1822


A professorship of theology should have no place in our institution.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Cooper, October 7, 1814, referring to the University of Virginia




Diamonds in a Dunghill


My aim in that was, to justify the character of Jesus against the fictions of his pseudo-followers, which have exposed him to the inference of being an impostor. For if we could believe that he really countenanced the follies, the falsehoods and the charlatanisms which his biographers father on him, and admit the misconstructions, interpolations and theorizations of the fathers of the early, and fanatics of the latter ages, the conclusion would be irresistible by every sound mind, that he was an impostor. I give no credit to their falsifications of his actions and doctrines, and to rescue his character, the postulate in my letter asked only what is granted in reading every other historian.... That Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of God, physically speaking, I have been convinced by the writings of men more learned than myself in that lore.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Short, August 4, 1820, explaining his reason for compiling the Syllabus of an Estimate of the Merit of the Doctrines of Jesus and referring to Jesus's biographers, the Gospel writers.


The fumes of the most disordered imaginations were recorded in their religious code, as special communications of the Deity; and as it could not but happen that, in the course of ages, events would now and then turn up to which some of these vague rhapsodies might be accommodated by the aid of allegories, figures, types, and other tricks upon words, they have not only preserved their credit with the Jews of all subsequent times, but are the foundation of much of the religions of those who have schismatised from them.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Short, August 4, 1820, describing the religion of the Jews which was inculcated on Jesus from his infancy, and explaining a possible motive for Jesus wanting to reform that religion


We must reduce our volume to the simple evangelists, select even from the very words of Jesus, paring off the amphiboligisms into which they have been led by forgetting often or not understanding what had fallen from him, by giving their own misconceptions as his dicta, and expressing unintelligibly for others what they had not understood themselves. There will be found remaining the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man. I have performed this operation for my own use, by cutting verse by verse out of the printed book, and arranging the matter which is evidently his, and which is as easily distinguishable as diamonds in a dunghill.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, October 13, 1813, clarifying his desire to strip away the myth introduced by the Gospel writers, as his motivation for constructing his Syllabus of an Estimate of the Merit of the Doctrines of Jesus





Questionable Thomas Jefferson Quotation




     • Load This Feature With Frames Index


After receiving several inquiries from atheists and others in a matter of a few days, we inquired of the Jefferson Library as to the veracity of the following alleged quotataion.





  The Jefferson Presidential Library has searched for the following alleged quotation and cannot find it within their collection of known and verified Jefferson writings. Therefore we think this quotation is probably a forgery and recommend its removal from all quotes collections.

     -- Positive Atheism Magazine






Quotation 'Not Found'

"The Christian god can easily be pictured as virtually the same god as the many ancient gods of past civilizations. The Christian god is a three headed monster; cruel, vengeful and capricious. If one wishes to know more of this raging, three headed beast-like god, one only needs to look at the caliber of people who say they serve him. They are always of two classes: fools and hypocrites."

-- Quotation 'Not Found,' popularly alleged to have been in a letter to his nephew, Peter Carr




Explanation of Our Position:


To prove that a quotation is "false," one must first cough up the forger, and that is almost impossible. Like disproving a god-claim, it is impossible to empirically prove that a quotation is not genuine, apart from finding someone who deliberately fabricated it or proving an alleged source document to be a forgery. Thus, to say it is "false" is incorrect. The most accurate way to state this is, "The Jefferson Library has searched for this quotation and cannot find it within their collection of known Jefferson writings."

     Neither does this mean that we do not seriously doubt the veracity of this quip: we do! We have always suspected its validity because it consists almost entirely of segments that can be found elsewhere in the body of Jefferson's writings. Almost all the sentiments here are Jefferson's, but this particular quotation is probably a forgery. Thus, to the above statement we would add, "Therefore we think this quotation is probably a forgery."

     We recommend to editors of quotes lists that we all (at least) remove this particular alleged quotation from our collections. Some may wish to go so far as to post an alert to their readers, similar to this one, pointing out that this quotation is under strong suspicion.

     On the off chance that we discover this quotation to be genuine, we will restore it to our collection and will also note that fact here, in this segment, which is permanent, and may eventually contain other, similar reports.


-- Cliff Walker,

July 8, 2002


The link at the beginning of this segment, called, "Load This Feature With Frames Index," like all of our "Load This Feature With Frames Index" links, is permanent: You may link to it and your readers will always be taken to this notice. That URL is:

in case you wish to copy it as text.





Wrong Attribution

I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to Ezra Stiles Ely (June 25, 1819), quoted from Dickinson W Adams, ed, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Second Series (Princeton University Press, 1983; note that attributions saying "Ezra Stiles, president of Yale University (June 25, 1819)" are incorrect, as that Ezra Stiles died in 1795) ††




  Revised: October 1, 2004.





  The Subtle Fulmination of the Encircled Sea


Please Feel Free

to Grab a Quote

(or Maybe Three)


Grab some quotes to embellish your web site,

to use as filler for your group's newsletter,

or to add force to your Letters to the Editor.


Use them to introduce the chapters of a book or

accent the index or margins of a special project.


Poster your wall!    Graffiti your (own) fence.

Sticker your car!!

Poster your wall.    Graffiti your (own) fence!!!


That's what this list is for!

That's why I made it!


In using this resource, however, keep in mind that

it's someone's life's work, a hedge against old age.


If you decide to build your own online

collection, then find some new material!

Dig up quips that haven't yet been posted!




  Biographical sketches, source citations, notes, critical editing, layout, and HTML formatting are copyright ©1996-2006, by Cliff Walker, except where noted.





There's something to be said

for doing your own work.








Thomas Jefferson was a great believer in the separation of church and state.  He was a philosopher among other things and I am proud that my sons, grandchildren and I are direct descendents of his - not because of his place in American history - that is a known - I am proud to share his genes because he was a free thinker, a philosopher, a non-joiner and a great American.  IMHO we need to return to the values in which he believed - he was an individual and nonconformist and yet he led our country during a time in which his very individualism was greatly needed. Were he alive today he would not believe the freedoms that have been lost for Americans under the Patriot Act and that the leadership of America could murder over 3,000 men and women during 911 as a justification for declaring war on a soverign nation (Iraq) in the name of democracy. The America of today is certainly not what the signers of the Decleration of Independence sought - even though they were Freemasons -  I personally think they would be horrified - I certainly am.

Here are some statistics on my Great Uncle ===Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826),

* third president of the United States (1801-     1809)

* author of the Declaration of Independence.

* was for total seperation of church and             state and thought that religion is                   personal and not subject to conversion of       the masses - he most certainly would have      been horrified by the ultra conservative           forces existing in all religions today that are

  leading to global warfare.

* He is my 8th great Uncle; his sister,

   Martha, is my 8th great grandmother.  His       mother was a Randolph from Virginia  (scroll down)   which is why one of my nom de plumes is Elizabeth Randolph - for more on this lineage please look in the genealogy section

*My lineage from Jefferson is as follows -

Jane Randolph married Peter Jefferson

Their daughter Martha Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson’s sister) married Dabney Carr

*Their daughter Lucy Carr married Richard      Terrell

*Their son Joseph Carr Terrell married his        first cousin Ann Terrell (direct descendent      from the Plantagenet Kings of England –         Magna Charta Dame (1215 - King John)

*Their son Charles Thomas Terrell, my great grandfather) married  Fannie Pierce McGeeHee (a direct descendent from King Robert de Bruce of Scotland (1306)

*Their son Early Thomas Terrell (my grandfather married Ophelia Harris, my grandmother.


Jefferson Is one of the most brilliant men in history. His interests were boundless, and his accomplishments were great and varied. He was a philosopher, educator, naturalist, politician, scientist, architect, inventor, pioneer in scientific farming, musician, and writer, and he was the foremost spokesman for democracy of his day.


As president, Jefferson strengthened the powers of the executive branch of government. He was the first president to lead a political party, and through it he exercised control over the Congress of the United States. He had great faith in popular rule, and it is this optimism that is the essence of what came to be called Jeffersonian democracy.


Early Life

Thomas Jefferson's father, Peter Jefferson, was a prosperous Virginia planter. His mother, Jane Randolph Jefferson, was a member of the old and distinguished Randolph family of Virginia. In 1743 the Jeffersons moved to western Goochland County, where Peter Jefferson had acquired 162 hectares (400 acres) of undeveloped land. He named his estate Shadwell. At first the family lived in a simple log cabin.

Thomas Jefferson was born in this cabin in 1743. A year after his birth, Albemarle County was formed from the western portion of Goochland County. Peter Jefferson soon became a leader in the new county. He was a justice of the peace, a magistrate, and commander of the county militia. Although young Jefferson was accepted into the Virginia aristocracy through his mother's family, it was his father, a self-made man, whom he especially admired.

In 1745, William Randolph, a cousin of Mrs. Jefferson and a close friend of the family, died. His will requested that Peter Jefferson move to his estate, manage the house and land, and supervise the education of Randolph's four children. The Jeffersons remained at Randolph's estate, known as Tuckahoe, for seven years.


Thomas was five years old when he began his education under the family tutor at Tuckahoe. In 1752 the Jeffersons returned to Shadwell and again started work on a plantation home. Thomas, however, spent little time at Shadwell. Almost immediately he was sent to Dover, Virginia, where he studied Latin with the Reverend William Douglas until 1757, when his father died. He was then sent to the school of the Reverend James Maury at Hanover, Virginia, and spent two years studying Greek and Latin classics, history, literature, geography, and natural science.

Jefferson was a tall, slender boy with sandy hair of a reddish cast and fair skin that freckled and sunburned easily. A serious student, he also enjoyed the lighter aspects of the education of a Virginia gentleman. He learned to dance and play the violin and became an excellent horseman. Weekends and holidays he spent either at Shadwell entertaining guests or at his friends' plantations.

In March 1760 Jefferson entered the College of William and Mary in Virginia's capital city, Williamsburg, and soon came under the influence of Dr. William Small. Jefferson became a favorite of the doctor, who taught mathematics, natural history, metaphysics, and moral philosophy. Jefferson also continued his study of classical literature.


After two years at William and Mary, Jefferson left to study law with Dr. Small's friend George Wythe, the most learned lawyer in Virginia. Jefferson was very fond of Wythe and called him “my second father.” Even while reading law, Jefferson had many other interests. He studied French, Italian, and English history and literature. He was keenly interested in the new scientific theory of inoculation and traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to have himself inoculated against smallpox.

In 1767, after five years of work and study under Wythe, Jefferson was admitted to the practice of law in Virginia. He was reasonably successful as a lawyer, but he did not earn enough to support a Virginia gentleman. Jefferson's main source of income, like that of most other Virginia lawyers, was his land.

Throughout his years of law practice, Jefferson spent much time supervising the Shadwell plantation. In this occupation, as in his studies, he was most methodical. He observed the growth of his plants and trees, keeping records of them in a special garden book. A careful observer of his environment, he kept a lifelong record of such things as temperature, weather, expenses, recipes, and anything else that struck him as noteworthy. “There is,” he once wrote, “not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me.”

The year of his admission to practice law, Jefferson began work on his mountaintop estate, Monticello, near what is now Charlottesville, Virginia. Jefferson designed the mansion himself in the classical style of architecture.


On New Year's Day, 1772, Jefferson married Martha Wayles Skelton, a 24-year-old widow. Patty, as Jefferson called her, shared her husband's love of music and played the harpsichord and piano. The marriage was a happy one despite Mrs. Jefferson's ill health. Of their six children, only two, both of them girls, lived to maturity. Martha Jefferson died in 1782. The death of his wife had a profound effect on Jefferson and probably influenced his return to politics, which he had considered abandoning.  His mistress in later years was Sally Hemmings, one of his household slaves.  By her he had four children and many descendents who received their freedom upon his death.  


Early Career

By the time of his marriage, Jefferson had for several years been a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. This was the lower chamber of the Virginia legislature, which was called the General Assembly. He was elected in 1768 and took his seat at Williamsburg in the spring of 1769. As a burgess, Jefferson took an active part in the events that led to the American Revolution (1775-1783). He belonged to the so-called radical group that was in opposition to the conservative planters of the Tidewater region. Many of his democratic views came from his experience as a resident of the western part of the colony, near the frontier, where he saw the colonists carve a civilization out of the wilderness. This strengthened his lifelong belief that people could and should govern themselves.

Jefferson was a poor speaker, but his literary talents made him a highly valued member of committees when resolutions and other public papers were drafted. He emerged as the recognized author of the patriot cause in Virginia and indeed in the whole of the colonies. Jefferson's first public paper, however, was considered too stiff and formal, and it was rewritten. The paper was a response to the greeting of the new governor, Lord Botetourt, to the General Assembly. Jefferson, who never took criticism graciously, remembered the incident with annoyance for many years.

Townshend Acts

In 1769 Jefferson joined his fellow burgesses in opposing the Townshend Acts. These laws passed by the British Parliament required the colonies to pay duties on paint, lead, paper, and tea. They also made changes in colonial administration that disturbed the colonists. The Massachusetts legislature appealed to the other colonies for concerted action against the laws. Virginia responded with resolutions protesting the acts. Governor Botetourt, learning of the resolutions, dissolved the General Assembly. However, the burgesses moved their meeting to the Raleigh Tavern in Williamsburg, where Jefferson and the others signed an association, or pledge of action. Drafted by Burgess George Mason and introduced by Burgess George Washington, the document went far beyond any previous protest. It bound its signers not to buy a number of imported goods until the Townshend duties were abolished.

Faced with the prospect of a boycott, Great Britain lifted most of the offensive duties. Thus the colonists were quieted so effectively, Jefferson said, that they “seemed to fall into a state of insensibility to our situation.” He, however, was not deceived. He noted that the tea tax still held and that Parliament still claimed the right “to bind us by their laws in all cases whatsoever.”

Committee of Correspondence

In 1773, in retaliation for the burning of the British ship Gaspee near Providence, Rhode Island, the British government ordered a special court of inquiry and threatened to send the perpetrators to Britain for trial. Jefferson and his brother-in-law Dabney Carr were among the burgesses who protested the British threats. They met secretly with burgesses Patrick Henry and Richard Henry Lee and a few others to consider a plan of action. Carr drew up a set of resolutions proposing a committee of correspondence for Virginia. The committee was to keep in touch with other colonies on matters of common interest. Other resolutions challenged the legality of the court of inquiry and protested the threat “to transmit persons accused of offenses committed in America to places beyond the seas to be tried.” The resolutions were passed by the General Assembly. Although the committee of correspondence did not include Jefferson or other so-called radicals, the first step had been taken toward communication and joint action on grievances by all the colonies.

Jefferson's Resolutions

Early in 1774 the colonies were angered by the passage of what were called the Intolerable Acts. One of these, the Boston Port Act, closed Boston Harbor in retaliation for a protest incident, the so-called Boston Tea Party, where angry colonists dumped British tea into Boston Harbor. Virginia protested the Boston Port Act, and Jefferson was one of the burgesses who suggested that the day the act went into effect should be declared “a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer.” Because of this resolution, the General Assembly was again dismissed, this time by Lord Dunmore, who had replaced Botetourt as governor.

Virginians immediately elected their dismissed burgesses as delegates to a convention to consider the grievances of the colonies. As delegate from Albemarle County, Jefferson wrote a series of resolutions later titled A Summary View of the Rights of British America. In defining the grievances with Great Britain, Jefferson denied that Parliament had any authority over the colonies, and he attacked the restrictive acts passed by Parliament as a deliberate plan to destroy colonial freedom. Jefferson also accused the king of    

1.  rejecting the best laws passed by colonial legislatures,

2. of preventing the outlawing of slavery in the colonies,

3. of permitting his governors to dissolve colonial assemblies, and

4. of sending in armed forces without having the right to do so.

Jefferson said the colonists were “a free people claiming their rights as derived from the laws of nature and not as the gift of their Chief Magistrate.”

On his way to Williamsburg, where the convention was to meet, Jefferson became ill. He was unable to go on but sent his Summary View to be presented by fellow Burgess Peyton Randolph. The younger delegates applauded Jefferson's work, but for the time being “tamer sentiments were preferred,” as Jefferson put it. The Summary View was set aside in favor of a more tactfully phrased remonstrance to Parliament. However, Jefferson's work was published in Philadelphia and England, and Jefferson's talents as a writer and political thinker came to the attention of American patriots outside of Virginia.

Richmond Convention

In March 1775 Jefferson was a delegate to a Virginia convention held at Richmond to approve the decisions made at the First Continental Congress, an assembly of representatives from the different colonies that had met the previous fall to organize resistance to Britain. At Richmond it was decided that the colonies must resort to arms against England. Patrick Henry on this occasion made his stirring “give me liberty or give me death” speech. Jefferson supported Henry's call to arms with his first public address. The convention then chose him as an alternate delegate to the Second Continental Congress to serve if the elected delegate, Peyton Randolph, should be unable to attend.

Burgesses' Last Session

Before the Second Continental Congress convened, events in Virginia reached a crisis. Lord Dunmore, the governor, had angered Virginians by his high-handed conduct. They were further aroused when word came of the battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775, when Massachusetts militias first took up arms against the British troops. The American Revolution had begun. (See Lexington, Battle of; Concord, Battle of.) Dunmore was frightened and called a meeting of the General Assembly, which both Jefferson and Randolph attended.

At first, Dunmore tried to calm the assembly with assurances that no more taxes would be levied. Instead, he said, they would return to the old system whereby the colonies voluntarily contributed money to Great Britain. However, these assurances came too late to appease the Virginians. Dunmore felt his life was endangered and fled to a British warship. He never returned to Virginia.

The assembly continued to work without him. Jefferson's written reply to the assurances made by Dunmore stated that “the British Parliament has no right to intermeddle with the support of civil Government in the Colonies.” Virginia, Jefferson declared, was now represented in the Continental Congress and would go along with the decisions of the other colonies. His reply, slightly amended, was adopted by the assembly, and Jefferson left for Philadelphia and the meeting of the Continental Congress. Randolph remained in Williamsburg to preside over the assembly.

Declaration of Independence


On June 21, 1775, Jefferson took his seat in Congress. A few days later, John Rutledge of South Carolina was appointed to write a statement explaining the colonists' reasons for making war on Britain. Rutledge's paper was not approved, and Jefferson, who by now had earned wide acclaim as a writer, was asked to write a new draft. His version contained many of the ideas expressed in the Summary View, and it brought forth the same cry of radicalism from the conservatives. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania rewrote Jefferson's paper, and Congress approved it on July 6, 1775.

The following summer, Jefferson sat in Congress as an elected delegate, not as an alternate. It was at this session that he wrote his most famous document, the Declaration of Independence.

On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee, who was also a congressman from Virginia, proposed a resolution stating “that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.” Jefferson was one of a committee of five appointed to draft a declaration “to the effect of the said … resolution.” The committee asked Jefferson to draft the paper, and according to committee member John Adams, Jefferson replied, “Well, if you are decided, I will do as well as I can.” When his draft was completed, Adams, committee member Benjamin Franklin, and Jefferson himself made corrections.

On July 2, 1776, Lee's resolution for independence was passed by Congress. Technically, this was the actual day of American independence. Then the declaration was debated, several changes were made, and some parts were dropped entirely. Jefferson regretted especially the deletion of a long paragraph denouncing the slave trade and the whole institution of slavery as a “cruel war against human nature itself.”

The objective of the declaration, in Jefferson's own words, was to justify American independence “in terms so plain and full as to command their assent.” As an expression of the philosophy of the natural rights of people in an age when absolute monarchs ruled throughout the world, it had an immense impact in America and in Europe as well. Jefferson did not originate the concept of government by consent and the belief that all people are endowed with certain rights that government cannot infringe upon. These ideas came from European philosophers, most notably 17th century British philosopher John Locke. However, in the declaration they were given a practical application for the first time. Furthermore, in Jefferson's words they achieved their most eloquent expression.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.



On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was formally adopted. The bands that had connected America with Great Britain were broken. Within a few days the declaration was being read to people throughout the colonies, and it was received with great rejoicing. The declaration held the essence of Jefferson's ideals, and he spent the rest of his life applying its principles to the new American government.

Virginia Legislator

While Jefferson was writing the declaration, a convention of the General Assembly in Virginia was drafting laws suitable for the state's new republican form of government. Eager to take part in this enterprise, Jefferson resigned from Congress and, in September 1776, returned to Virginia. A congressional appointment as minister to France followed him home. However, he declined the appointment in order to serve in the Virginia convention.


Jefferson was opposed to all forms of tyranny. He also had great faith in the ability to rule by reason. Therefore, in helping to make laws for Virginia, his guiding principle was to place as few restrictions as possible upon the people of the state. Jefferson was a strong advocate of land reform. A few families owned most of the land in Virginia and, because ownership of land was a prerequisite for voting, these same families also controlled the government. By his efforts the old hereditary property laws were modified to enable more people to own land, which led to greater democracy in the state.

Jefferson's most noteworthy achievement at the convention was his bill to establish religious freedom and to ensure the separation of church and state. The bill guaranteed, in Jefferson's own words, “that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever.” It guaranteed, too, that no one should suffer in any way for his “religious opinions or belief.” Introduced in 1779, the bill did not become law until 1786, when, through the leadership of Legislator James Madison, it was enacted by the General Assembly.

Jefferson was less successful with his educational program. His “bill for the more general diffusion of knowledge” would have provided schooling for children whose parents could not afford private schools. The bill as written never passed the General Assembly. However, it set forth a philosophy that was eventually embodied in the national institution of the free public school.


During this period, Jefferson managed to spend considerable time with his family. Even in leisure he was never idle. He once more took up building projects at Monticello and continued to develop his land, attempting such exotic plantings as olive and orange trees. Jefferson was a philosopher and at the same time an architect and an inventor. He invented the dumbwaiter, a swivel chair, a lamp-heater, and an improved plow for which the French gave him a medal. He tinkered with clocks, steam engines, and metronomes. He collected plans of large cities and later helped in the planning of Washington, D.C. so it is obvious here that he was a mason.  Scientific subjects always interested him. He entered into a transatlantic correspondence with Giovanni Fabbroni, an Italian naturalist, in order to compare climate and plant life in Virginia and southern Europe. Jefferson also added to his valuable collection of books and bought instruments for making astronomical observations.

By 1779, most Virginians believed that the war was near its end. British General John Burgoyne had surrendered, and 4000 British and German prisoners of war from Burgoyne's command were sent to Virginia. However, General George Washington, the Virginian who commanded the Continental Army, knew that much fighting lay ahead and that the country needed the efforts of its able people. He deplored the retirement to private life of such people as Jefferson. Edmund Pendleton, a Virginia patriot, was more specific. He told Jefferson, “You are too young to ask that happy quietus from the public, and should … at least postpone it til you have taught the rising Generation the forms as well as the substantial principles of legislation.” Jefferson therefore returned to politics, and in 1779 he was elected governor of Virginia, succeeding Patrick Henry.

Governor of Virginia

The Virginia constitution strictly limited the power of the executive branch of government in order to deny that branch the dictatorial powers previously held by the colonial governors. Jefferson had agreed that the executive office should be merely a tool for carrying out the mandates of the legislature. As governor, however, he found that constitutional restrictions of his power prevented his taking action, and in time of war quick action was needed.

Furthermore, Jefferson was temperamentally unsuited to deal with military matters. He wished only for the immediate end of the war, declaring, “It would surely be better to carry on a ten years' war some time hence than to continue the present [one] an unnecessary moment.” He found it hard to give orders. When generals Nathanael Greene and Horatio Gates urgently begged him for reinforcements to beat back a British attack in the Carolinas, Jefferson agreed to send some soldiers only if they would go “willingly.” He felt that their previous service gave them a right to be consulted.

Invasion of Virginia

During Jefferson's administration the war was fought almost entirely in the South. Although Jefferson was warned by Washington that the British were sending a large force to Virginia, he did not take measures to meet the invasion.

In early January 1781 the British attacked Richmond, the new capital of Virginia, and Jefferson, his council, and the General Assembly fled the city.

On June 2, 1781, Jefferson quit the governorship. It was the end of his term, but because of chaotic wartime circumstances no successor had been named. Later in the year, Jefferson was reelected governor by the General Assembly. He declined, recommending instead the election of someone with military experience. Jefferson's administration had not been a success. A committee of the legislature investigated his conduct in office during the British invasion. Although he was exonerated, his reputation was badly tarnished in his home state.

Two days after Jefferson resigned his office, Colonel Banastre Tarleton and his British dragoons made a surprise raid on Monticello and very nearly captured Jefferson, his entire family, and several guests. Although Jefferson's escape was orderly and dignified, his opponents spread a story that he fled on horseback just as the dragoons came into sight. To Jefferson's indignation, the story was told and retold, embroidered in such a way as to make him appear a coward.

Notes on Virginia

Jefferson spent the next two years in retirement at Monticello, concerning himself with agricultural matters and with building his estate. As usual, he continued to make notes on his surroundings. One winter, he put in book form all the information on Virginia that he had been collecting for many years. The work was published in 1785 as Notes on the State of Virginia. It became one of the most famous and respected scientific books of its time and was acclaimed in Europe and America. Jefferson had described and reflected on the natural history, geography, climate, economics, Native Americans, religion, manners, agriculture, politics, and many other aspects of his native state. He discussed also many other subjects. A chapter on politics and government fervently defended the concepts of freedom and equality. Favoring a balance of power among all branches of government, Jefferson criticized the excessive power given the Virginia legislature. He wrote, “173 despots would surely be as oppressive as one.” He also condemned the institution of slavery, describing it as “this great political and moral evil.”

Jefferson's retirement from public life was marred by tragedy. On September 6, 1782, he noted in his account book that “my dear wife died this day at 11-45 AM.” After spending the next few months in almost total seclusion, he returned to politics.

Confederation Congressman

In November 1782 Jefferson accepted a congressional appointment as a diplomat with broad authority to Europe. He was to sail to France to take part in peace negotiations with Great Britain. However, his sailing was delayed, and by April 1783 the peace settlement was so nearly concluded that Congress decided not to send him at all. In June, Jefferson was elected as a Virginia delegate to Congress. His skill in drafting public papers was called on again and again, and he contributed to the work of many committees.

Among his most important actions was a proposal for the political organization of the Northwest Territory. This proposal was adopted by Congress in 1784 but was never put into effect. However, the governmental plan called the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was based in large part on his proposal. The Land Ordinance of 1785 was also Jefferson's work. It established the public land policy of the United States for more than 75 years. Jefferson suggested that the United States adopt the decimal system of currency, based on the silver Spanish dollar, using the silver dime and copper cent.

Diplomatic Representative to France

In May 1784 Congress again appointed Jefferson a diplomat. His duties were to take him to France. There he was to help the other ministers, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, in arranging commercial treaties with various European countries. When Franklin retired in 1785, Jefferson replaced him as the U.S. diplomatic representative to France.

One of Jefferson's most important functions in France was to report home how “the vaunted scene of Europe … struck a savage of the mountains of America.” He was not well impressed. He urged his friend, Congressman James Monroe, to come and see for himself what France was like. “It will make you adore your own country,” he said. “How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people enjoy.”

French Revolution

The France to which Jefferson referred was on the threshold of revolution. Jefferson hailed the idea of revolution in France but hoped it would be peaceful and orderly. When King Louis XVI agreed to convene a national representative body, the Estates-General, Jefferson thought the revolution had accomplished its end. From the opening of the Estates-General on May 5, 1789, he attended every day to observe its deliberations. He suggested to the Marquis de Lafayette, French military leader who fought in the American Revolution that the king should give the people a charter of rights, and he even drafted a sample ten-point charter. The violence and cruelty of later developments in France distressed him greatly, but he never lost faith in the principles of the French Revolution.

Bill of Rights

During Jefferson's stay abroad he was frequently consulted on significant developments at home. The most important of these was the Constitution of the United States, drawn up in 1787. To James Madison, who sent him a copy of the proposed Constitution, Jefferson wrote, “A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth.” Such a bill would clearly state the right of the people to “freedom of religion, freedom of the press, protection against standing armies, restriction of monopolies, the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws, and trial by jury ….” Based on Jefferson's suggestions, Madison proposed a Bill of Rights, consisting of the first ten amendments, which was added to the Constitution in 1791.

While abroad, Jefferson toured much of Europe, taking note of its architecture and studying its scientific achievements. However, he longed to return to the United States, and permission finally came in September 1789.

Secretary of State

When Jefferson returned to the United States, President Washington asked him to become secretary of state. Although Jefferson was anxious to return to private life, he accepted at the president's urging.

Quarrels with Hamilton

What was to be Jefferson's chief problem for many years soon became apparent. He and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton were completely at odds in their thinking. Jefferson, with his faith in the rational mind and his optimistic view of popular government, placed his trust in the land and the people who farmed it. He believed that the purpose of government was to assure the freedom of its individual citizens. With his fear of tyranny, he distrusted centralization of power and favored instead the spread of power among the federal, state, and local levels of government.

Alexander Hamilton, on the other hand, distrusted popular rule. “The people!” he once exclaimed, “the people is a great beast!” Whereas Jefferson favored an economy based on agriculture that stressed individual freedom, Hamilton worked to promote commerce, industry, and a strong central government, under which, he believed, the economy would flourish. He believed that to preserve order and the alliance between business and government, the moneyed class and the wealthy aristocracy should hold all political power. Jefferson retorted, “I have never observed men's honesty to increase with their riches.” The conflict between Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian thought has continued down to the present day. Generally, the American capitalist economy has grown along Hamiltonian lines, while American political institutions and social aims are Jeffersonian in nature.

Soon after Jefferson became secretary of state, he and Hamilton had a disagreement over the debts incurred by the states during the revolution. Hamilton, a New Yorker, wanted the federal government to pay these debts. He believed that this would greatly strengthen the central government. Jefferson objected. Virginia and most of the Southern states had already paid a considerable portion of their war debts and had no wish to pay those of the North. A political compromise resolved the issue. To satisfy Southerners, it was agreed to move the future national capital from Philadelphia to a Southern location on the Potomac River at what is now Washington, D.C. In exchange, Jefferson influenced Southern legislators to vote in favor of Hamilton's proposal that the federal government assume the war debts of the states.

Strict Construction

Another matter on which the two men disagreed intensely was the establishment of a national bank. Hamilton advocated such a bank as a means of forging a bond of common interest between business and the federal government. Jefferson felt that a national bank would encourage people to desert agriculture for speculation and give the commercial interests too much power in the federal government.

Jefferson supported his views by a “strict construction” of the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution, which specified that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Jefferson argued that since the Constitution did not specifically empower the federal government to establish a national bank, it could not do so. Hamilton, however, argued for a “loose construction” of the Constitution. Relying on the implied-powers clause, which states that Congress can make all laws “necessary and proper” for the execution of its powers, Hamilton argued that the federal government could establish a bank. Jefferson's views were rejected when President Washington signed a bill establishing a national bank.

Political Parties

Out of the divergent political philosophies of Jefferson and Hamilton emerged the first clearly defined political parties in the United States. Hamilton's followers called themselves Federalists, today’s Republicans, --later known as the Federalist Party, and Jefferson's were Republicans, later known as the Democratic-Republican Party – today’s Democratic party.  Feelings ran high between the two parties. Jefferson was assailed as an atheist and a demagogue. The Federalists were accused of planning to establish a monarchy along British lines.

Foreign Affairs

Since its defeat in the revolution, Great Britain had refused to sign a trade treaty with the United States. To force Britain to give the United States favorable commercial terms, Jefferson advocated an embargo (suspension of trade) against that country. He also wanted Britain to relinquish the forts in the Northwest Territory, which were held in violation of the peace treaty of 1783. Hamilton opposed an embargo, claiming that the United States would lose so much in customs duties that its finances would crumble. Jefferson did not get his embargo until much later, when he was president.

Citizen Genêt

In 1793 England and France were at war. Jefferson favored France, while Hamilton and the Federalists were committed to England. Both agreed, however, that the United States should stay out of the European war. Hamilton pressed President Washington to make an open declaration of neutrality. Jefferson felt that it would be neither wise nor constitutional for the president to make such a proclamation. However, Jefferson yielded to Hamilton in order to attain a goal he considered more important: the recognition of the republican government of France. This was achieved by accrediting the French diplomatic representative to the United States, Citizen Genêt (see Genêt, Edmond Charles Édouard).

Unfortunately, Genêt repeatedly violated the neutrality of the United States and finally threatened to make a direct appeal for the support of the American people. Jefferson eventually was forced to agree that Genêt should be recalled.

The Genêt incident was one of many frustrations that Jefferson encountered as secretary of state. Late in 1793, despite President Washington's pleas, he resigned. In January 1794 he returned to his beloved Monticello, believing that he was leaving public life for good.

Break With Washington

Even in retirement, Jefferson kept a close watch on political affairs. Federalist victories were a source of great concern to him, and his Republican allies in Congress looked to him for leadership. Jefferson was greatly distressed with Jay's Treaty, negotiated with Great Britain in 1794 by John Jay, chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. The treaty was intended to resolve remaining differences with Britain, including trade restrictions in the West Indies. However, the treaty had failed to win all the desired concessions for the United States, and the section dealing with West Indian trade was humiliating. Angry with Washington for having supported the treaty, Jefferson wrote his friend Philip Mazzei:


In place of that noble love of liberty, and republican government which carried

us triumphantly thro' the war, an Anglican, monarchical, and aristocratical party has sprung up, whose avowed object is to draw over us the substance as they have already done the forms of the British government.


He added a barely concealed indictment of President Washington, calling him a Samson who let his head be shorn by England. Mazzei was so indiscreet as to publish the letter, and Washington never again regarded Jefferson as his friend.

Election of 1796

In the election year of 1796, Washington announced that he would not seek a third term. Jefferson was prevailed upon to accept the Republican nomination for president. John Adams, nominated by the Federalists, polled three more electoral votes than Jefferson. According to the system of election then prevailing, Adams became president of the United States and Jefferson vice president.

Vice President of the United States

Jefferson was 54 years old when he became vice president. His duties were not clearly set forth in the Constitution, and to Jefferson it appeared that he had only to preside over the Senate. This he did ably. He also wrote the Manual of Parliamentary Practice, a book of parliamentary rules (published in 1801), many of which still apply to both houses of Congress. In other matters, Jefferson had little to do with the Federalist administration of President Adams.

XYZ Affair

Party friction was increased by the XYZ Affair in 1797 and 1798. Jay's Treaty, so unpopular at home, had also had repercussions abroad. The French government considered it a sellout to the British, despite the American declaration of neutrality, and therefore felt justified in interfering with United States-British trade. By the summer of 1797, France had seized 300 American ships and broken off diplomatic relations. There was talk of war, especially among the pro-British Federalists.

President Adams sent a three-man diplomatic team to France in an effort to negotiate a solution. The French government did not receive the diplomats. Instead they were approached by agents of Charles Talleyrand, the French foreign minister. The agents proposed that the United States could make reparations for its alleged injuries to France by paying Talleyrand a huge bribe and financing a large loan to the French government. These terms were so exorbitant and dishonorable that the American diplomats rejected them. When Adams, who had been waiting anxiously for news, got their report, he tried to keep it secret. But Jefferson's pro-French Republicans raised a great outcry. They accused Adams of suppressing information that was favorable to France and thereby driving America into war with that country.

Adams finally let the report be published. The names of the French agents were changed to X, Y, and Z, but the details were left unchanged. Jefferson now found himself on the defensive as anti-French feeling rose over the corrupt proposal. He argued that there was no reason to believe that the agents were actually speaking for the French government. But the antagonism toward France continued to grow and was exploited by the Federalists to the damage of the Republican Party.

Through his control of the Federalist Party, Hamilton rallied the United States to take action against France. Congress renounced all the treaties it had made with France during the American Revolution. It ordered an expansion of the army, created the Department of the Navy, and commissioned the building of naval fighting ships. George Washington was called out of retirement to lead the army, with Hamilton as his second in command. By the end of 1798 more than a dozen American men-of-war had been put to sea and an undeclared naval war with France had begun.

Alien and Sedition Acts

During this period of war fever in the United States, the Federalists passed a number of bills for national defense and for the suspension of trade between the United States and France. They also passed the Alien and Sedition Acts. These acts placed many restrictions on non-citizens and prohibited criticism of the president or the government of the United States. They effectively muzzled the Republican press, which had been critical of President Adams and the Federalist-dominated Congress. Even Hamilton thought the provisions of these bills excessive. Republicans were enraged. Indeed, Republican leaders Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe believed that the XYZ Affair had been invented by the Federalists to whip up anti-French feeling and to assure the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Kentucky Resolutions or States Rights

In June 1798, while the Alien and Sedition Acts were still being considered by Congress, Jefferson left Philadelphia. He felt that there was no effective action he could take in Adams's Federalist administration.

At Monticello, Jefferson secretly drafted what were to be called the Kentucky Resolutions, in which he declared that the federal government was not “the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself.” On the contrary, Congress was merely a creation of the states and was subject to the “final judgement” of the states. He concluded that “whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.” Here was the first statement of the doctrine of nullification. Jefferson's primary purpose was to defend human rights and civil liberties, which he believed were violated by the Alien and Sedition Acts.

The Kentucky legislature adopted the Kentucky Resolutions, and similar resolutions were passed in Virginia. They were not acted upon, the Alien and Sedition Acts expired in 1801, and the furor died away. Later, however, the nullification doctrine was used by supporters of states' rights to deny what the Federalists thought the Constitution had settled: that the federal government was the primary government of the land. Opponents of nullification argued that it would break up the federal Union. Southern politicians invoked nullification in their 19th-century rivalry with the Northern states, an antagonism that finally reached its climax in the American Civil War (1861-1865).

Election of 1800

The Republicans again nominated Jefferson for president in 1800. For vice president they nominated Aaron Burr, who had built up a strong Republican following in New York State. President Adams and Charles C. Pinckney of South Carolina were the Federalist candidates.

The Federalists campaigned against Jefferson as an infidel who would destroy religion and set up the Goddess of Reason in its place, as extremists in the French Revolution had attempted to do. However, the political tide in the United States was swinging away from the aristocratic Federalists to those advocating a more democratic form of government, and the Republicans won a clear victory. Jefferson and Burr each polled 73 electoral votes. Adams, hampered by the opposition of Hamilton, came next with 65 votes.

The tie in the electoral vote caused one of the gravest crises in American constitutional history. The electors, in voting for Jefferson or Burr, had not specified whether their vote was for president or vice president. Therefore, despite his being his party's vice presidential candidate, Burr had as many votes for the office of president as Jefferson had.

The Constitution provides that in case no candidate in a presidential election wins a majority of the electoral votes, the election must go to the House of Representatives, where each state has one vote. To win, Jefferson or Burr had to have the support of a majority of the 16 states. To further complicate matters, this was a lame-duck Congress, meaning that many of its members had been defeated in the recent election and were in office only because their terms had not expired.

Congress was dominated by Federalists who had to choose between two Republican candidates. From February 11, when the voting began, to February 16, neither Jefferson nor Burr could win the required nine states. Because he disliked Burr even more than he did Jefferson, Hamilton favored Jefferson, but most Federalists abhorred Jefferson. The crisis was resolved when a group of Federalists, led by James A. Bayard of Delaware, came to the realization that if an orderly transfer of government power was to be achieved, the majority party must have its choice as president. Therefore, on February 17 the deadlock was broken. On the 36th ballot, Jefferson won the support of ten states and was elected president. Burr, who had the support of only four states, became vice president.

As a result of this election, the 12th Amendment was added to the Constitution. This amendment specified that electors were to “name in their ballots the person voted for as president, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as vice president.”

President of the United States

Jefferson was inaugurated on March 4, 1801, the first president to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C. Dressed in plain, dark clothes, he walked from his boarding house to the chambers of the Senate of the United States in the still-uncompleted Capitol building, where he was to give his inaugural address. Jefferson was accompanied by a small crowd of people and a company of artillery. The outgoing president, John Adams, considered Jefferson a dangerous radical and did not attend the inauguration.

Jefferson's inaugural address, one of a small number of truly memorable addresses by presidents of the United States, attempted to dispel the notion held by many conservatives that democracy would lead to mob rule and anarchy. “The will of the majority in all cases is to prevail,” Jefferson said. However, “the minority possess their equal rights which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.” Jefferson sought also to unite the country. “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists,” he proclaimed. Furthermore, his program was moderate enough to win the support of both parties.

New Domestic Policies

Nevertheless, President Jefferson did reverse some Federalist programs. Both he and his secretary of the treasury, Albert Gallatin, felt that a national debt was undesirable. By cutting certain appropriations, especially for the army and navy, they balanced the budget and reduced the debt. Jefferson also made good a Republican campaign promise to repeal internal duties. This was greeted with approval in the West, where in 1794, Washington had had to use force to collect a hated excise tax on whiskey.

Marbury v. Madison

During his last days in office President John Adams was determined to ensure Federalist control of the judiciary. The lame-duck Congress had obliged by creating 16 new circuit courts and permitting Adams to appoint as many justices of the peace for the District of Columbia as he felt necessary. In all, about 200 offices were created and filled by loyal Federalists. In addition, Adams appointed his secretary of state, John Marshall, a Federalist from Virginia, to be chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.  Ronald Regan followed this procedure some 200 years later as did G. W. Bush.

Jefferson, terming these “midnight appointments” an “outrage in decency,” succeeded in having the circuit judgeships abolished. He also reduced the number of justices of the peace from 42 to 30. Furthermore, Jefferson ordered his secretary of state, James Madison, to withhold those commissions that had not yet been delivered. One of Adams's appointees, William Marbury, brought a suit in the Supreme Court for a writ to compel Madison to deliver his commission. In 1803 Chief Justice Marshall ruled that the section of the Judiciary Act of 1789 that authorized the Court to issue such a writ was unconstitutional and that, although Marbury was entitled to his commission, the Supreme Court could not force Madison to give it to him. Thus Marshall established the doctrine of judicial review, whereby the Supreme Court has the power to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional.

Assualt on Judiciary

During his first term as president, Jefferson attempted to replace Federalist officeholders with Republicans. He especially wanted to end the Federalists' control of the judiciary. In 1804 John Pickering, a district judge from New Hampshire, was impeached and removed from office because of insanity. A more formidable opponent was Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase. An outspoken Federalist, Chase often made scathing attacks from the bench on Jefferson and the Republican Party. In 1805 he was impeached and tried before the Senate. Just before Jefferson began his second term, Chase was acquitted. Thereafter, Jefferson resigned himself to an unelected and independent judiciary controlled by the Federalists.

War with Tripoli

Jefferson had long opposed paying tribute to protect American shipping from the pirates who operated from the Barbary States on the coast of northern Africa. As diplomatic representative to France he had tried but failed to persuade European countries to join with the United States in an attack on the pirate bases.

In 1801 the pasha (ruler) of Tripoli, one of the Barbary states (in what is now Libya), demanded tribute money beyond the amount fixed by treaty. When Jefferson refused the demand, war ensued. Jefferson sent warships to blockade Tripoli, and Stephen Decatur, a young naval officer, distinguished himself in several daring actions. However, the war with Tripoli did not end until 1805, when Captain William Eaton captured the Tripolitan town of Derna and the pasha agreed to make peace. The payment of tribute to Tripoli came to an end. However, the United States continued to have trouble with pirates from other Barbary States.

Louisiana Purchase


Jefferson's chief accomplishment as president was the Louisiana Purchase. The huge territory of Louisiane (in English, Louisiana), stretching from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, was claimed as a possession by France in 1682. Because Louisiana was so large, its resources—although as yet mostly undiscovered—were thought to be of great value.

In the early years of the United States, Louisiana was of concern chiefly because it bordered the Mississippi River, which was vital to U.S. trade.

1. In 1762 France had ceded Louisiana to Spain, which was too weak to offer a serious threat to American commerce.

2. In 1800, however, rumors spread that Spain was about to cede Louisiana back to France. Jefferson was alarmed. Relations between the United States and France were still unfriendly, and France had the power to cut off American shipping at Louisiana's capital, New Orleans, at the mouth of the Mississippi.

3. There was, said Jefferson, “one single spot” on the globe, “the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy. It is New Orleans through which the produce of three-eighths of our territory must pass to market.”

4. In 1802 the rumored cession was confirmed. Jefferson called the resulting crisis “the most important the United States have ever met since independence.” He sent James Monroe to help Robert R. Livingston, the American diplomatic representative to France, negotiate the purchase of New Orleans. Congress appropriated $2 million for the purchase.

In April 1803, one day before Monroe arrived in Paris, Talleyrand made Livingston a startling offer. The French emperor, Napoleon I, was willing to sell not only New Orleans, he said, but the whole of Louisiana as well. A treaty dated April 30, 1803, set the terms of the purchase: $15 million, which included $3.75 million to pay for American claims against France.

At the end of June, news of the treaty reached the United States. Jefferson was very eager to acquire the entire territory, but, viewing it from his strict-construction point of view, he questioned whether the Constitution permitted such a purchase. He wanted to amend the Constitution to make the transaction clearly legal.

Very soon, however, Jefferson changed his mind about waiting for an amendment. His envoys in France wrote that Napoleon already regretted his offer and might back out if given time. Furthermore, many Federalists opposed the purchase and were ready to seize on Jefferson's own doubts about its constitutionality to prevent its ratification. Jefferson therefore asked the Senate to ratify the treaty at once. The Senate did so on October 20, although every Federalist voted against it.

It then appeared that Spain, which had not yet actually turned over Louisiana to France, might challenge the purchase. Jefferson proceeded swiftly and firmly to establish American rights. He ordered out troops from the Mississippi Territory, Tennessee, and Kentucky. This show of force discouraged Spanish resistance, and Spain formally ceded Louisiana to France. On December 20, 1803, the flag of the United States flew over New Orleans.

Lewis and Clark Expedition

Jefferson had dreamed of the exploration of the West from the time he was secretary of state. As a scientist he wanted to know about the land and its inhabitants. He realized the importance of such exploration for the future expansion of the United States.

In January 1803, half a year before the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson proposed his idea to Congress. In order to conceal its expansionist aims from England, France, and Spain, he suggested that the journey be presented as a “literary pursuit.” Congress gave its approval. Jefferson chose his secretary, Meriwether Lewis, to lead the expedition, and Lewis selected William Clark, a frontiersman, as his co-leader. Jefferson instructed them to observe and note down the physical features, topography, soil, climate, and wildlife of the land and the language and customs of its inhabitants. In 1806 Lewis and Clark returned with their valuable journals. They had successfully breached the mountain barrier of the West, built a fort on the Pacific Ocean at the mouth of the Columbia River, and mapped and explored much of the American Northwest. Moreover, they had secured the friendship of a number of Native American peoples and given the United States a claim to the Oregon country.

Jefferson's interest in the new Western territory did not end with the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In 1804 and 1806 he sent out expeditions to explore the Red River to its source. When these met with Spanish resistance, he shifted his interest to the north. In 1805 he sent Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike to discover the source of the Mississippi River, and in 1806, Pike was sent out to explore the Arkansas River to its source.

Merry Affair

Jefferson believed that the president's dress and manners should reflect the republican simplicity and informality of the country. Pomp and show reminded him too much of the European courts. In fact, Jefferson worked so hard to avoid ostentation that he began to dress not merely plainly, but sloppily. As for manners, he refused to observe the rules of protocol in seating his dinner guests. First come, first served was the rule in the presidential mansion, the White House. Jefferson explained:

In social circles, all are equal, whether in, or out, of office, foreign or domestic; and the same equality exists among ladies and gentlemen … “pell mell” and “next the door” form the basis of etiquette in the societies of this country.


The new British diplomatic representative to the United States, Anthony Merry, and his wife were shocked and insulted when the president received them in worn clothing and slippers. In December 1803 at a formal dinner in the White House, no one offered to escort Mrs. Merry to dinner. In the dining room, Merry and his wife had to scramble for places at the table in competition with the other guests. The Marquis d'Yrujo, the Spanish diplomat, had the same experience. He and Merry agreed that this treatment was an insult to them and to their countries. The two diplomats and their wives sought to retaliate. At their parties, for instance, no one escorted the wives of the Cabinet members to the dinner table. This social war greatly enlivened Washington. The president refused to retreat from his pell mell rule, and Merry and Yrujo became increasingly angry and receptive to the plottings of Jefferson's opponents, the Federalists and Aaron Burr.

Native American Policy

Jefferson's policy toward Native Americans reflected less his humanitarian instincts than it did his understanding of the needs of the settlers on the expanding western frontier. When, in 1803, the Choctaw nation was persuaded to sell its lands on the Mississippi, Jefferson wrote to General Henry Dearborn, his secretary of war, that the Choctaw “are poor and will probably sell … so as to be entitled to an annual pension, which is one of the best holds we can have on them.” Through Jefferson's efforts, 20 million hectares (50 million acres) of land were bought from the Native Americans for $142,000. As a result of this land grabbing, the Native Americans who remained east of the Mississippi River began to rally behind the Shawnee chief Tecumseh. Tecumseh, with his brother Tenskwatawa, who was known as the Shawnee Prophet, promised to rid the Native Americans of the white people forever.

Election of 1804

Jefferson was renominated for the presidency by a caucus (political meeting) of Republican senators and congressmen. However, Vice President Burr was dropped from the ticket in favor of George Clinton, who had served a record six terms as governor of New York. The Federalists chose Charles C. Pinckney to oppose Jefferson. This election was very different from the election of 1800, when many Federalists were convinced that Jefferson was the candidate of anarchy, atheism, and revolution. In the landslide of 1804, Jefferson polled 162 electoral votes to Pinckney's 14 and won every state but Connecticut and Delaware.

Second Term as President

On March 4, 1805, Jefferson again walked to the yet unfinished Capitol building for his second inaugural address, which was to be far different from his first. As he himself noted in the margin of the text:


The former one was an exposition of the principles on which I thought it my duty to administer the government. The second then should naturally be … a statement of facts showing that I have conformed to those principles. The former was promise: this is performance.



Randolph's Rebellion

The accomplishments of Jefferson's first term in office and the resounding Republican victory in the election of 1804 greatly weakened the Federalist Party. During his second term, opposition within his own party, led by Congressman John Randolph of Roanoke, proved to be Jefferson's major problem.

Randolph first split with the administration over its handling of the Yazoo fraud. In 1795 a group of land speculators, many of them from the North, bribed the Georgia legislature into selling them the greater part of its western land claims, in what is now Alabama and Mississippi, for only $500,000. The area was called the Yazoo tract because the Yazoo River runs through it. The next year the citizens of Georgia elected a new legislature, which promptly invalidated the sale. In 1802 Georgia relinquished its western land claims to the federal government. In 1804 and again in 1805 Jefferson recommended that Congress pass a law to reimburse the original speculators out of receipts from land sales on the Yazoo tract. Both times, Randolph, who felt Jefferson was unduly considerate of the corrupt land speculators, successfully led the opposition against the bill.

Randolph's complete break with the administration came in the winter of 1805 and 1806, when Jefferson asked Congress to appropriate $2 million for an unspecified diplomatic purpose. This purpose, as Randolph construed it from a private conversation with Jefferson, was to bribe Napoleon into forcing Spain to sell Florida to the United States. Randolph did not approve of secret diplomacy and denounced these “backstairs” negotiations to acquire Florida. Randolph was unable to block the appropriation, although nothing ever came of the proposed deal with Napoleon. However, Randolph gathered around him a group of Federalists and dissident Republicans, called Quids. This group was able to prevent Jefferson from accomplishing much of his legislative program during his second term.

Burr Conspiracy

In 1804 Aaron Burr was defeated for the governorship of New York. His failure was due primarily to the opposition of Alexander Hamilton. Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel, killed him, and was forced to flee to the frontier. His political career was ruined.

Burr next became involved in a plot, the purpose of which is still unclear. He seems to have intended either to separate the Louisiana Territory from the United States or to seize Mexico from Spain. Indeed, his story seems to have varied with his audience. However, his plan was betrayed by his accomplice, General James Wilkinson. In a letter to Jefferson, Wilkinson revealed Burr's “deep, dark, wicked” plot to seize Louisiana. Burr was captured and brought to Richmond for trial in 1807. Jefferson, who had long distrusted his former vice president, was anxious to see him convicted of treason. However, he was again thwarted by Chief Justice Marshall, who presided at the trial. Marshall, intent on establishing the independence of the judiciary, excluded much of the evidence that did not meet the constitutional definition of treason, and to Jefferson's disgust Burr was acquitted.

Chesapeake Affair

As the European war continued, the United States found it increasingly difficult to maintain its neutrality. Napoleon blockaded Great Britain, trying to stop its sea trade, and Britain issued orders that prohibited trade with the rest of Europe. Also, the British, badly in need of sailors, stopped American vessels and removed sailors they claimed were British deserters. Often the sailors were British, but occasionally Americans were also forcibly enlisted, or impressed, into the British service (see Impressment).

In June 1807 the United States frigate Chesapeake was stopped by the British ship Leopard. When the Chesapeake refused to permit a search, the Leopard fired upon it. The helpless American ship was thereupon forced to surrender four of its men. One was a British deserter, but three were Americans. Many Americans wanted to go to war against Britain over this incident. However, Jefferson was determined to avoid war, feeling he could bring Britain to terms by applying economic pressure.


In December 1807 the Embargo Act was put into effect. American ships were forbidden to sail from American ports to any European port. Jefferson believed that England and France could not survive without American trade. However, he had greatly underestimated the effect of the embargo on the United States itself. All parts of the country were affected, especially the industrial and commercial North. Shipbuilders, sailors, manufacturers, and merchants denounced the embargo. The Southern planters also suffered financially. Exports stopped, and produce prices fell. U.S. revenue at the time was derived almost entirely from customs duties. With the stoppage of international trade the national income dropped from $16 million in 1807 to a little more than $7 million in 1809. Indeed, the embargo did more damage to the American economy than to England's or France's.

Americans did their best to evade the embargo. Smuggling flourished along the Atlantic coast and over the Canadian border in the Northeast. The harassed president wrote to Secretary of the Treasury Gallatin:


This embargo law is certainly the most embarrassing one we have ever had to execute. I did not expect a crop of so sudden and rank growth of fraud and open opposition by force could have grown up in the United States.


The Federalists assailed the Embargo Act as not only ruinous, but unconstitutional as well. According to Jefferson's own strict interpretation of the Constitution, the federal government did not have the power to impose such a restriction on commerce during peacetime. However, Jefferson ignored the constitutional aspects of the embargo and sought, instead, means to enforce it. Opposition continued to grow, even in his own Cabinet. Therefore, in March 1809, a few days before he left office, Jefferson had the Embargo Act repealed. The less stringent Non-Intercourse Act, pertaining only to England and France, was adopted in its place.

Election of 1808

Jefferson was again offered the Republican presidential nomination in 1808. Unwilling to see the presidency become “an inheritance,” he declined. He wanted, he said, to follow “the sound precedent set by an illustrious predecessor,” George Washington. The Republicans thereupon chose Jefferson's political protégé James Madison, who went on to win the presidential election of 1808. As Jefferson's term drew near its end, he wrote his old friend, French economist Pierre du Pont de Nemours:


Never did a prisoner, released from his chains, feel such relief as I shall on shaking off the shackles of power. Nature intended me for the tranquil pursuits of science, by rendering them my supreme delight. But the enormities of the times in which I have lived, have forced me to … commit myself on the boisterous ocean of political passions. I thank God for the opportunity of retiring from them without censure, and carrying with me the most consoling proofs of public approbation.



Later Life

At the age of 65, Jefferson was at last free to return to his beloved mountaintop estate in Virginia. He devoted much of his energy to repairing and rebuilding his estate, but he yet found time to design houses for his friends. He furnished Monticello with rare and beautiful objects and with his own remarkable inventions, so that the estate was much talked about and frequently visited. He also worked to advance agricultural science, and he filled his account books with observations of all kinds.

Jefferson's leisure time was spent in reading. Ancient history especially interested him, but he also continued his study of philosophy, religion, and law. In 1815 he sold his 6500-volume collection to the federal government as the nucleus of the restored Library of Congress, which was being built up again after its destruction in the British burning of Washington in the War of 1812. However, immediately afterward, Jefferson set about buying a new collection.

Political differences had long ago broken up the friendship between Jefferson and John Adams. Now, a mutual friend, Dr. Benjamin Rush, brought about a reconciliation. Jefferson and Adams began a lively correspondence that touched on many subjects. “I cannot write volumes on a single sheet,” Adams wrote plaintively, “but these letters of yours require volumes from me.”

University of Virginia

The founding of the University of Virginia was probably the most important work of Jefferson's later years. Architecturally designed by Jefferson and based on his plans and recommendations, the university opened its doors in 1825. It accepted not only wealthy students, but also capable students too poor to pay. Free public education had always been one of Jefferson's dreams, and he managed to accomplish it on the university level, although not on lower levels.

Missouri Compromise

Occupied as he was with private projects, Jefferson always remained interested in national affairs. Many years before, as a congressman, he had tried to outlaw slavery in new states. He failed, as did others who came after him, and the issue eventually became the main grievance between the slaveholding South and the antislavery North. In 1820 Congress tried to reconcile the opposing sides with the Missouri Compromise, which allowed slavery only in new states created south of a line at 36°30' north latitude. Jefferson clearly foresaw, during the debate in Congress, that a terrible struggle over slavery still lay ahead:


This momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. It is hushed, indeed, for the moment. But this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated; and every new irritation will mark it deeper and deeper. My only comfort and confidence is, that I shall not live to see this; and I envy not the present generation the glory of throwing away the fruits of their father's sacrifices of life and fortune, and of rendering desperate the experiment which was to decide ultimately whether man is capable of self-government. This treason against human hope will signalize their epoch in future history.



Death of Jefferson

Jefferson and his friend Adams, both of whom had played such great parts in the winning of independence, died on Independence Day, July 4, 1826. Jefferson left detailed instructions for his burial in the graveyard of his estate. A simple monument was to mark his resting place. It specified that the monument was to be made of coarse stone so that “no one might be tempted hereafter to destroy it for the value of the materials.” He wrote his own epitaph:


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



This was to be inscribed on the monument, and “not a word more … because by these, as testimonials that I have lived, I wish most to be remembered.”

Jefferson's wishes were carried out, but vandals later overturned and broke the stone. A careful reproduction now marks Jefferson's grave.





ABT 1450 - ____

ID Number: I64599



 BIRTH: ABT 1450

 RESOURCES: See: [S2449]


Family 1 :

1. +THOMAS BEAUFOREST of Dorchester



ABT 1480 - ____

ID Number: I64597


 RESIDENCE: Dorchester, Oxfordshire, ENG

 BIRTH: ABT 1480

 RESOURCES: See: [S2449]






ABT 1520 - 1556

ID Number: I64596



 BIRTH: ABT 1520

 DEATH: 1556

 RESOURCES: See: [S2449]

Father: THOMAS BEAUFOREST of Dorchester



Family 1 : RICHARD BRANCH of Abingdon

1. +WILLIAM BRANCH of Abingdon, Berkshire


ABT 1520 - 1544

ID Number: I64595


 OCCUPATION: “wollendraper” — a wool clothing merchant.


 BIRTH: ABT 1520

 DEATH: 1544

 RESOURCES: See: [S2449]


Mother: AVISE



1. +WILLIAM BRANCH of Abingdon, Berkshire



"Will of Richard Branch: In the name off god Amen the 27 daye of August yn the yere off our lorde god 1544 and in the yere of our soveren and most drade lorde Henry the viij by the grace of god of England fraunce & Irelande kinge of the faithe defensor and in the erthe next under god of the church of England & Ireland supreme hede the xxxvjy Richarde Branche of Abendon in the dyocese of Sarum wollen draper being hole of mynde and perfyt of memorye (thankes be unto Jhesu) never the lesse sycke in bodye do ordeyne and make this to be my last will and testament as hereafter foloweth that is to saye I bequethe my solle unto almighty god my only Saviour and redemer desirynge my soll to be assosiat and in cumpenye withe the virgyn marye and all thelect people of god and my bodye to be buryede in Saynct Elens churche of Abendon in Saynct Kateryns yle nyghe unto the bodyes of my late wyves Julyan and Margrett.

Item y bequeth unto the highe awlter in Saynct Elens Churche ijs to be prayed for.

Item y bequeth unto Thomas Branche my eldest sonne a federbed a bolster a coverynge with a myter upon it and a peyre off scheetes and xs [ten shillings] in moneye.

Item y bequethe unto my sonne William Branche my gowne that hadde off Mastre Wodwarde and xs in moneye.

Item y bequethe unto Thomas Branche my yongest sonne xxs in moneye.

Item y bequethe unto my sunne John Branche a black gown lyned with saynct Thomas wolsted and xs in moneye.

Item y bequethe unto Mergerye my dowghter a gyrdell with a dymycent of sylver and gyelt a sylverne spone withall her graunfathers bequest unto her a great brasse pott a platter a pottenger and a sawcer of the new fassyon a bell candlestycke & xxs in moneye.

Item y bequethe unto Maryon my dowghter a great brasse potte a brasse pan a peyre of Jett bedis with sylver gandes a sylverne spone besydes the spone that Wodwarde gave unto her a platter a potenger a sawcer of the new facyon a bell candlestycke & xxs in moneye.

And yff it shall cum to passe by godes provysyon that anye off my fore named chyldern shall departe this transitorye lyeff before they cum unto yeris of dyscretion then y will that his or their partes of the bequestes above mentioned so discessed shalbe indifferently distrybuted amongst my chyldern that then shalbe on lyve.

Item the residew of all mye goodes unbequethed (my detes payed my funeralls dishcarged and my legaces fulfylled) I geve and bequethe unto Elysabeth Braunche my wyffe she to pay all the dettes that ye owe and to receve all such dettes as be owinge unto me whom also y make my full and sole executrice she to cause my soll to be prayed for as god shall put her in mynd.

Item y do make Humffrey Bostocke and Thomas Erle the overseers of this my last will and testament to be performed in whome y putt my full trust above all other mortall men to se unto the gydynge of my wyffe and my childern untyll the tyme that god provyde for them unto whome also y do geve for the paynes takynge vjs viijd equallye betwyxt them to be devydyd.

Witnesses hereunto Sir William Druet brotherhed preist Richard Mayot Humffreye Bostocke and Thomas Erle with other moe."







                       _JOHN BRAUNCHE ______|

                      | (1480 - ....)       |

                      |                     |__


 _JOHN BRANCH ________|

| (1500 - ....)       |

|                     |                      __

|                     |                     |  

|                     |_____________________|

|                                           |

|                                           |__



|--RICHARD BRANCH of Abingdon

|  (1520 - 1544)

|                                            __

|                                           |  

|                      _____________________|

|                     |                     |

|                     |                     |__

|                     |                        


  (1500 - ....)       |

                      |                      __

                      |                     |  






WILLIAM BRANCH of Abingdon, Berkshire

ABT 1540 - 1601

ID Number: I55646


 OCCUPATION: Member of Parliament (1593)


 BIRTH: ABT 1540

 DEATH: 1601 [S2449]

 RESOURCES: See: [S2026] [S3475]

Father: RICHARD BRANCH of Abingdon






18 Aug 1566 - ABT 1605

ID Number: I55647


 RESIDENCE: England

 BIRTH: 18 Aug 1566, Abington, Berkshire, England

 DEATH: ABT 1605, London, England

 RESOURCES: See: [S2026] [S2449] [S3475]

Father: WILLIAM BRANCH of Abingdon, Berkshire



Family 1 : Valenta SPARKS

 MARRIAGE: 8 Jul 1596, Ludgate, London England.

1. +Christopher BRANCH I "the Immigrant"



"Lionel Branch (d 1605 England) was the son of William Branch and Catherine Jennings. On 2 Jul 1585 he matriculated Magdalen College of Oxford University as a commoner, and graduated 11Feb1590. He m Valentina Sparkes 8 Jul 1596 at Ludgate, London England. Their child was: Christopher (1602 London England- 1681 Henrico Co VA) m Mary Frances Addie"


Education: Feb. 11, 1589, BA degree from Magdaline College, Oxford, England.

Lionel was black sheep of family. After his marriage, he and his wife returned to Abington and all trace of him was lost. He died intestate.


LDS file of Witt shows he died in Kingsland, Henrico Co, VA.


                                                                      _JOHN BRANCH ____________________+

                                                                     | (1500 - ....)                  

                                         _RICHARD BRANCH of Abingdon_|

                                        | (1520 - 1544)              |

                                        |                            |_AVISE___________________________

                                        |                              (1500 - ....)                  

 _WILLIAM BRANCH of Abingdon, Berkshire_|

| (1540 - 1601)                         |

|                                       |                             _THOMAS BEAUFOREST of Dorchester_+

|                                       |                            | (1480 - ....)                  

|                                       |_ELIZABETH BEAUFOREST ______|

|                                         (1520 - 1556)              |

|                                                                    |_MARGARET BASSETT _______________

|                                                                      (1480 - ....)                  



|  (1566 - 1605)

|                                                                     _WILLIAM JENNINGS _______________

|                                                                    | (1480 - ....)                  

|                                        _THOMAS JENNINGS ___________|

|                                       | (1510 - ....)              |

|                                       |                            |_JOAN BOSTOCK ___________________+

|                                       |                              (1490 - ....)                  

|_CATHERINE JENNINGS ___________________|

  (1540 - 1597)                         |

                                        |                             _________________________________

                                        |                            |                                

                                        |_ALICE BRIGHT ______________|

                                          (1520 - ....)              |




Christopher BRANCH I "the Immigrant"

2 Sep 1602 - 20 Feb 1681

ID Number: I54408


 RESIDENCE: London, England and 1619 Jamestown, and Curls, Henrico Cos. VA

 BIRTH: 2 Sep 1602, London, England

 DEATH: 20 Feb 1681, Henrico Co. Virginia

 RESOURCES: See: [S1972] [S2026] [S2449] [S3475]


Mother: Valenta SPARKS


Family 1 : Mary Frances ADDIE

 MARRIAGE: 2 Sep 1619, St. Peter's, Westcheap, London, England

1. +Thomas BRANCH I

2. +William BRANCH Sr.

3. +Christopher BRANCH II



"In 1620 He sailed on the London Merchant with his wife, Mary Addie (or Altie). Later settled at Kingsland Plantation on the south side of the James River in Henrico (now Chesterfield) County. The census of January, 1625, listed Christopher Branch, his wife, Mary, and son, Thomas. Christopher was a member of the House of Burgesses from Henrico County in 1629.


On October 20, 1634, Christopher Branch patented one hundred acres of land on the south side of the Appomattox River. In September, 1636, he patented land in the same section as the first patent, and on December 18, 1636, he patented 250 acres known as Kingsland Plantation.


Christopher Branch wrote his will in Henrico County, Virginia, in 1678, and he named his son, Thomas, and grandchildren, Christopher, Samuel, and Benjamin, sons of his son Christopher."


"Catherine Jennings m. William Branch, son of Lionel Branch & Valenta Sparks, son Christopher Branch Sr b.1602 d. Henrico, VA & Mary Addie, son Christopher Branch Jr b 1627 m. ? had Mary Branch m. Thomas Jefferson."


Early Virginia Families Along the James River by L. Foley, Vol I, Patent Book 1 page 712 - 26 Feb 1638, Thomas Crosby's patent witnessed by Christopher Branch, Henrico County; page 836 - 20 Aug 1642, Thomas Osbourne's land bounded W.N.W. upon Christopher Branch's land, Henrico County.

Patent Book 6 page 81 - 27 Oct 1673, Martin Elam's land adj. Mr. Christopher Branch, Henrico County.


Early Settlers of Alabama - Land Patent granted in Henrico County in 1634.

Virkus: Henrico County Justice for many years, Burgess 1639-1641.

Caveliers & Pioneers by Nell Nugent p 20 - Christopher Branch, Planter, of Arrowhattocks in Henrico Co., 100 acs., Nly. on land graunted to Thomas Sheffeild, E. upon the maine river Sly. on land graunted to jogn Griffin, & W. into the maine woods. 21 yr. Lease. 20 Oct. 1634, p. 155.


p 36 - Christopher Branche, 250 acs. Henrico Co., 8 Dec 1635, p 326. At Kings land over against Arroehattocks, E. upon the maine river, bounded with the second Cr. on the W., adj. S. upon land of John Griffin, now in the tenure of sd. Branche, & thence Nly. towards land of Thomas Sheffield. 50 acs. for his owne per. adv. & 200 acs. for the trans. of 4 pers: John Gibson, John Macham, William Butler, Wm. Possell.


p 47 - Christopher Branch, 100acs. Henrico Co., 14 Sept. 1636, p. 381. Ely. upon the river over against Harrow Attocks, Wly. upon the head of Proctor Cr., Sly. upon the mouth of same & Nly. upon the second Cr. Due by exchange from James Place, to whom it was due for trans. of 2 servts: Richard Pierce, James hunt. Note: Renewed & 350 acs. added


p 82 - Christopher Branch to James Place, assignment of 3 score acs., part of his plantation at Kingsland, lying N. upon his own land & S. upon Turloe (?) Kills Land; with the appurtenances & priviledges thereunto belonging, howsing now standing or to bee hereafter erected & built &C. Consideration: 100 acs. surrendered in Ct. by sd. Place. Provided sd. Place shall pay & discharge all such rents & taxations &c. Signed: Christopher Branch. Witnesses: Francis Roberts, & William Woolley. 14 June 1636, p. 527.


p 87 - Christopher Branch, 250 acs. Henrico Co., 8 May 1638, p. 553. At Kingsland over against Arro Attocks, E. upon the maine river, bounded with the second Cr. on the W. & adj. Sly. upon land of John Griffin now in the tenure of sd. Branch & Nly. towards land of Thomas Sheffield. 50 acs. for his own per. adv. & 200 acs. for trans. of 4 pers: Jon. Gibson, Jon. Macham, Wm. Butler, Wm. Possell.


p 99 - Christopher Branch, Gent., 250 acs. Henrico Co., 12 Mar 1638, p. 608. At Kingsland over against the Long field, E. upon the maine river, W. by S. into the maine woods & adj. Sly. upon land of John Griffin, now in tenure of sd. Branch, & running thence Nly. towards the fields. 50 acs. due for his own per. adv. & 200 acs. for trans. of 4 pers:*


p 106 - Christopher Branch, 450 acs. Henrico Co., 28 Feb. 1638, p. 634. E. by N. on the great river, S. by E. upon Proctors Cr. etc., & N. by E. upon land granted to John Griffin, now in tenure of sd. Branch. 100 acs. due by exchange from James Place, to whom in was due in right of 2 servts., & 350 acs. for trans of 7 pers: Richard Pierce, James Hunt, Edward Salter, Thomas Morgan, Samuell Fitch, Tho. Richardson, Robert Elam, Charles Steward, Richard Bumpas.


More About Christopher Branch: Immigration: March 1618/19, arrived in VA on the "London Merchant"; Occupation: 1639, VA Burgess; Residence: 1678, Curls, VA.

1637, Justice of Charles Ciry County 1637 with Henry Isham & Francis Eppes

February 16, 1623/24, census of VA lists him among the living "at the College land".


"Christopher Branch (1602 London England- 1681 Henrico Co VA) was the son of Lionel Branch and Valentina Sparkes. He m Mary Frances Addie at St Peter's Church, Westcheap, London, with the license dated 12Sep1619. In 1623 he was living at The College Land in Henrico Co, and in 1624 he was listed there with his wife and 9-month-old son. He returned to England in 1632 to bring suit to recover Bull Inn at Abingdon, which had been owned by his uncle Thomas Branch...he lost the suit and returned to Virginia.


In 1634 he was a planter at Arrowhattocks in Henrico Co when he was granted a 21-year lease for 100A. Over the years he acquired at least 1930A in Henrico Co. He named his estate Kingsland. In 1637 he served as justice of Charles City Co VA, and in 1641 served in the House of Burgesses. He made his will 2Nov1681 in Henrico Co, naming his children and grandchildren.


Children of Christopher Branch and Mary Frances Addie were:


Thomas (bapt May1620 Jamestown VA-1694 Henrico Co VA) m Elizabeth Gough

William (1625 Henrico Co VA-1677 Varina Parish, Henrico Co VA) m Jane Hatcher

Christopher (1627 Henrico Co VA-1665 Charles City Co VA) m (Sarah?) "


"The founder of the Branch family in America was Christopher Branch I of “Arrowhattocks” and “Kingsland.” He was born in England, presumably in County of Kent. Christopher was the only son of Lionel Branch of London and Valentia Sparks.."


Immigration 1620, on ship London Marchant.

Elected, 1639, House of Burgess, Henrico county.

Census of 1624-25: There were 680 free people and 457 white servants, and 23 Negroes. Of the freemen 25 left descendants in well known families which can be traced to the present day. Eight of the servants were ancestors of VA families of the same standing. Among the freemen referred to was Christopher Branch, 1620. The father and grandfather of Christopher are styled "gentlemen", his great grandfather was a prosperous mercer of Abington, Sir John Branch, Lord Mayor of Abington.


Really good information on this family at :






[S2026] [S2449]


                                                               _RICHARD BRANCH of Abingdon_+

                                                              | (1520 - 1544)              

                       _WILLIAM BRANCH of Abingdon, Berkshire_|

                      | (1540 - 1601)                         |

                      |                                       |_ELIZABETH BEAUFOREST ______+

                      |                                         (1520 - 1556)              


| (1566 - 1605) m 1596|

|                     |                                        _THOMAS JENNINGS ___________+

|                     |                                       | (1510 - ....)              

|                     |_CATHERINE JENNINGS ___________________|

|                       (1540 - 1597)                         |

|                                                             |_ALICE BRIGHT ______________

|                                                               (1520 - ....)              


|--Christopher BRANCH I "the Immigrant"

|  (1602 - 1681)

|                                                              ____________________________

|                                                             |                            

|                      _______________________________________|

|                     |                                       |

|                     |                                       |____________________________

|                     |                                                                    

|_Valenta SPARKS _____|

  (1570 - ....) m 1596|

                      |                                        ____________________________

                      |                                       |                            





Christopher BRANCH II

ABT 1627 - ABT 1665

ID Number: I44168


 RESIDENCE: Henrico and Charles City Cos. VA

 BIRTH: ABT 1627, Henrico Co. Virginia

 DEATH: ABT 1665, prob. Charles City Co. Virginia

 RESOURCES: See: [S273] [S1972] [S2026] [S3365] [S3475]

Father: Christopher BRANCH I "the Immigrant"

Mother: Mary Frances ADDIE


Family 1 : Sarah ALMOND?

1. +Mary (Martha) BRANCH

2. +Christopher BRANCH III

3. +Samuel BRANCH I

4. Benjamin BRANCH Sr.

5. Sarah Bennett BRANCH



"Adventures of Purse and Person," page 134: "Christopher Branch, born about 1628, removed from Henrico to Charles City County where, in 1657 at the age of 29, he was appointed justice. The inventory of his estate was made 24 Nov 1665 by William Farrar."


There is some doubt as to the father of Mary Branch (b. 1657), but all sources agree that she was the granddaughter of Christopher Branch and Mary Addie. Most sources say her father was Christopher, but at least one says it was William.


His wife may have been Sarah. Their children were:

Mary (b 1657 Henrico Co VA) m 1) Thomas Jefferson and 2) Joseph Mattocks

Christopher m Anne Sherman

Samuel (1663 Henrico Co VA-1700 Henrico Co VA) m Ursula


Benjamin m Tabitha Osborne


Will: 20 JUN 1678


1657: Justice of the Peace for Charles City Co., VA


Marriages of Some Virginia Residents 1607-1800

Author: Wulfeck, Dorothy Ford

Publication: Vol II, Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc, Baltimore, 1986


                                                              _WILLIAM BRANCH of Abingdon, Berkshire_+

                                                             | (1540 - 1601)                        

                                        _LIONEL BRANCH ______|

                                       | (1566 - 1605) m 1596|

                                       |                     |_CATHERINE JENNINGS ___________________+

                                       |                       (1540 - 1597)                        

 _Christopher BRANCH I "the Immigrant"_|

| (1602 - 1681) m 1619                 |

|                                      |                      _______________________________________

|                                      |                     |                                      

|                                      |_Valenta SPARKS _____|

|                                        (1570 - ....) m 1596|

|                                                            |_______________________________________



|--Christopher BRANCH II

|  (1627 - 1665)

|                                                             _______________________________________

|                                                            |                                      

|                                       _____________________|

|                                      |                     |

|                                      |                     |_______________________________________

|                                      |                                                            

|_Mary Frances ADDIE __________________|

  (1602 - 1630) m 1619                 |

                                       |                      _______________________________________

                                       |                     |                                      










[S3365] Mary (Martha) BRANCH

ABT 1657 - ____

ID Number: I43183


 RESIDENCE: Henrico Co. VA

 BIRTH: ABT 1657, Flouer Dieu, Hundred, Wetzel, Henrico Co. Virginia

 RESOURCES: See: LDS AF WRQ1-XQ [S273] [S1578] [S1972] [S2026]

Father: Christopher BRANCH II

Mother: Sarah ALMOND?


Family 1 : Thomas JEFFERSON "the Immigrant"

 MARRIAGE: ABT 1675, Henrico Co. VA


2. +Thomas JEFFERSON Jr.

3. +Martha JEFFERSON

Family 2 : Joseph MATTOX

 MARRIAGE: 17 Feb 1700, St. John's Church, Henrico Co. Virginia [523818]




CONFILCT in parents: LDS PBWX-Z2 Father: William Branch b. 1625 in Henrico County, Va

Mother: Jane BURTON


By the terms of her marriage contract with Mattocks, she was to keep all her estate and half of his estate.


LDS Marriages:

Spouse: Thomas Jefferson Marriage: 1677 Place: Curles, James River, Henrico,Virginia

Spouse: Joseph Mattox Marriage: 17 Feb 1700 Place: Henrico, Virginia




Alt: 16 Sep 1608


                                                                _LIONEL BRANCH ______+

                                                               | (1566 - 1605) m 1596

                         _Christopher BRANCH I "the Immigrant"_|

                        | (1602 - 1681) m 1619                 |

                        |                                      |_Valenta SPARKS _____

                        |                                        (1570 - ....) m 1596

 _Christopher BRANCH II_|

| (1627 - 1665)         |

|                       |                                       _____________________

|                       |                                      |                    

|                       |_Mary Frances ADDIE __________________|

|                         (1602 - 1630) m 1619                 |

|                                                              |_____________________



|--Mary (Martha) BRANCH

|  (1657 - ....)

|                                                               _____________________

|                                                              |                    

|                        ______________________________________|

|                       |                                      |

|                       |                                      |_____________________

|                       |                                                            

|_Sarah ALMOND? ________|

  (1629 - ....)         |

                        |                                       _____________________

                        |                                      |                    






[S3475] Thomas JEFFERSON "the Immigrant"

ABT 1629 - ABT 7 Dec 1697

ID Number: I38356


 RESIDENCE: Henrico Co. VA

 BIRTH: ABT 1629, St. Christopher's Island, West Indies

 DEATH: ABT 7 Dec 1697, Henrico Co. Virginia

 RESOURCES: See: LDS AF WRQ2-17 [S273] [S1578] [S1972] [S2026]


Family 1 : Mary (Martha) BRANCH

 MARRIAGE: ABT 1675, Henrico Co. VA


2. +Thomas JEFFERSON Jr.

3. +Martha JEFFERSON



Father: Samuel JEFFERSON b. in Berkampsted, England Death: 12 Dec 1649 in Virginia. or Father: John JEFFERSON Birth: 1630 in Gwynedd, Wales


Capt. Thomas JEFFERSON Jr.

ABT 1679 - 15 Feb 1731

ID Number: I42131


 TITLE: Capt.

 OCCUPATION: Justice - Chesterfield Co. Court 1706 and High Sheriff 1718/19


 RESIDENCE: Henrico and Chesterfield Cos. VA

 BIRTH: ABT 1679, Henrico Co.

 DEATH: 15 Feb 1731, prob. Osborne's, Henrico Co. Virginia

 RESOURCES: See: LDS (AFN:L9WX-DX) [S273] [S1578] [S2026]

Father: Thomas JEFFERSON "the Immigrant"

Mother: Mary (Martha) BRANCH


Family 1 : Mary FIELD

 MARRIAGE: 20 Nov 1697, Henrico Co. VA

1. +Judith JEFFERSON





6. +Martha JEFFERSON




National Society Daughters of the American Colonists: Capt. Thomas Jefferson.


Title Acres County Comments: Jefferson, Tho. 15 Henrico "Lant y't hath been concealed"

Jefferson, Thomas 492 Henrico

He himself had his house at what was repeatedly referred to as Jefferson's Landing, later described as Osborne's.


of "Osborne's" plantation, a justice, and sheriff of Henrico Co. - Americans of Royal Descent, Charles H. Browning, p. 537


his death is also listed as 15 feb. 1730.


Notes for Thomas Jefferson II: He built the Jefferson or Ware Bottom Church at Mt. MyLady located near the intersection of Route 10 and I-95 south of Richmond, Virginia and near Chester. The Chesterfield Museum, located nearby, has some diggings from this old church. [Herbert Barger, Descendants of Thomas Jefferson I.


Dwelling: Curles at Osborne, Henrico Southside, VA

Military Service: Captain in Militia

Occupation: High Sheriff

Will Probated: 1731, Henrico Co., Virginia

Will Written: 15 Mar, 1724/25












                                   |                       |

                                   |                       |______________________________________


 _Thomas JEFFERSON "the Immigrant"_|

| (1629 - 1697) m 1675             |

|                                  |                        ______________________________________

|                                  |                       |                                      

|                                  |_______________________|

|                                                          |

|                                                          |______________________________________



|--Thomas JEFFERSON Jr.

|  (1679 - 1731)

|                                                           _Christopher BRANCH I "the Immigrant"_+

|                                                          | (1602 - 1681) m 1619                

|                                   _Christopher BRANCH II_|

|                                  | (1627 - 1665)         |

|                                  |                       |_Mary Frances ADDIE __________________

|                                  |                         (1602 - 1630) m 1619                

|_Mary (Martha) BRANCH ____________|

  (1657 - ....) m 1675             |

                                   |                        ______________________________________

                                   |                       |                                      

                                   |_Sarah ALMOND? ________|

                                     (1629 - ....)         |




Feb 1707 - 17 Aug 1757

ID Number: I38796


 TITLE: Col.

 RESIDENCE: Chesterfield & Shadwell, Goochland Cos. VA

 BIRTH: Feb 1707, prob. Osborne's, Chesterfield Co.VA

 DEATH: 17 Aug 1757, Shadwell, Goochland Co. VA

 RESOURCES: See: LDS (AFN:8MRL-DH) [S273] [S1376] [S1578] [S1975] [S2026] [S2696]

Father: Thomas JEFFERSON Jr.

Mother: Mary FIELD


Family 1 : Jane RANDOLPH

 MARRIAGE: ABT 3 Oct 1739, Goochland Co. VA [523697]



3. +Thomas JEFFERSON of Virginia 3rd Pres US

4. Elizabeth JEFFERSON

5. +Martha JEFFERSON

6. Peter Field JEFFERSON


8. +Randolph JEFFERSON

9. Anna Scott JEFFERSON



Justice of Goochland Co Court 1735; High Sheriff 1737-39; JP Albemarle Co 1744, Lt. Col. 1745, Col. & County Lieut. 1754, and Burgess 1755 (from Issue #3 of The Fields Cousins Online Newsleter).


From History of Pittsylvania Co., VA Chap III First Settlement

In 1740 Peter Jefferson, Ambrose Smith and Charles Lynch were granted 15,000 acres joining Colonel Randolph's order.


Peter Jefferson moved up to Albemarle, where he married, Jane, the daughter of Isham Randolph, and became the father of President Thomas Jefferson.




[S1578] [S2696]


date of Bond




                        _Thomas JEFFERSON "the Immigrant"_|

                       | (1629 - 1697) m 1675             |

                       |                                  |_____________________________


 _Thomas JEFFERSON Jr._|

| (1679 - 1731) m 1697 |

|                      |                                   _Christopher BRANCH II_______+

|                      |                                  | (1627 - 1665)              

|                      |_Mary (Martha) BRANCH ____________|

|                        (1657 - ....) m 1675             |

|                                                         |_Sarah ALMOND? ______________

|                                                           (1629 - ....)              



|  (1707 - 1757)

|                                                          _James FIELD "the Immigrant"_+

|                                                         | (1604 - ....)              

|                       _Peter FIELD _____________________|

|                      | (1647 - 1707) m 1678             |

|                      |                                  |_____________________________

|                      |                                                                

|_Mary FIELD __________|

  (1680 - 1715) m 1697 |

                       |                                   _Henry SOANE "the Immigrant"_

                       |                                  | (1622 - 1661) m 1642        

                       |_Judith SOANE ____________________|

                         (1646 - 1703) m 1678             |

                                                          |_Judith FULLER ______________

                                                            (1620 - ....) m 1642        





1. Christian and Hannah Longnecker – children of

2. Gregory Stuart Longnecker – born in Bethesda, MD

        son of      

3. Nancy Clendenin Terrell – born in Richmond, VA –

        daughter of    

4. James Emmett Terrell – VA – son of

5. Early Thomas Terrell – VA – son of

6. Charles Thomas Washington Terrell – VA – son of

7. Joseph Carr Terrell – VA – son of

8. Richard Terrell and Lucy Carr – daughter of

9.   Martha Jefferson (President Thomas Jefferson’s    sister) and Dabney Carr ( Thomas Jefferson’s best friend) daughter & son of Peter Jefferson & Jane

Randolph.  This is direct DNA ancestry.




1. "John The Elder"1 Randall was born on (birth date unknown).

SOURCE: notes taken from various texts concerning his son John Randall, supplied by the Virginia Historical Society Library during a 1997 visit. Name interchangeably spelled Randall or Randolph.

Further links not firmly established yet are:

1. Sir Thomas Randolf, Lord of Stratnith, was the Sheriff of Rexburgh in 1266, Great Chamberlain of Scotland from 1266 to 1278, and played a prominent part in the politics of the time.

2. He married Lady Isabel Bruce, daughter of Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick, and sister of King Robert Bruce, by whom

3. he had a son, Sir Thomas Randolph (d:1332), who became the first Earl of Moray, and on the death of Bruce, became the Regent of Scotland. SOURCE: Media Research Bureau, Washington, DC, abt. 1988-89. The file states: The 1st Earl Of Moray was the renowned Sir Thomas Randolph, warrior, statesman, and patriot of Scottish History. He was the nephew of Robert Bruce and son of Lady Isabel Bruce.

4. Randolph captured the castle of Edinburgh in 1313, was victorious at the battle of Bannockburn in 1334, and commanded a division of the Scottish Army. Banockburn is said to be the pivotal victory that gave Scots the perpetual self confidence which kept them from ever again becoming a subject race.

5. Upon the death of Robert Bruce, Sir Thomas Randolph became Regent of Scotland and guardian of young King David. He applied himself with great vigor to the settlement of the kingdom.

6. He married Isabel Stewart, daughter of Sir John Stewart of Bunkyl and had issue (Thomas, John, and Agnes).

7. Son Thomas became the 2nd Earl of Moray and was later killed in battle.

8. Son John succeeded his brother and became the 3rd Earl of Moray. Sir Thomas Randolph of Moray, his father was the Thomas Randolph who was Chamberlain of Scotland for some years, during the reign of Alexander III.

Ronald McNair Scott writes in his book, Robert the Bruce, p82, 111 - "Thomas, Earl of Moray (d1332) was captured by English at Methven and protected by his friendship of the Earl of Pembroke and pardoned upon his promise to fight for the English against uncle Bruce. Recaptured by Douglas and returned to the side of Bruce who's genial personality won him back. Thomas's parents were Thomas Randolph and a daughter of Marjorie -Countess of Carrick (father was Earl - only descendant of Celtic Prince, Fergus of Galloway.) (married 2nd to Robert the Bruce, then Earl of Carrick, and first husband Adam de Kilconquahar (great grandson of Duncan, Earl of Fife) who was a friend and knight of Robert the Bruce that died in battle of the Palestine defense of Acre while his wife was still pregnant."

Coat of Arms: has a crest of an antelope holding perhaps a golden horn in its mouth - over an armoured helmet and large shield with a prominent cross adorned with 5 stars. The motto across the top banner is "NIL ADMIRARI" - loosely, "Nothing is to be admired," across the bottom banner is "FARI QUE SENTIAT" - loosely, " enduring courage, virtue, pursuit of pure thinking." Some have said it indicates "deathless courage, generosity and elevation of mind". Others say: "Wonder at nothing, do what is right". Yet others say: "To speak what he thinks".

"John The Elder" Randall had the following child:

2. John2 Randall ("John The Elder"1) was born before 1463, the first event for which there is a recorded date. John died 1463.

He married an unknown person.

John Randall had the following children:

 + 3 i. John3 Randall II was born before 1552, the first event for which there is a recorded date.

 4 ii. Sir Thomas Randall was born 1523. Sir died 1590 at 67 years of age. Confidential diplomatic agent to Russia and Scotland for Queen Elizabeth I. SOURCE: The Randolphs, Bobbs-Merril, 1946: Eckinrode stated his belief that "the Randolphs of Virginia were of the same family as Thomas Randolph (d1311), first Earl of Moray (Murray), nephew of King Robert Bruce of Scotland, captor of Edinburgh Castle and commander of a victorious Scottish force at the battle of Bannockburn (1314)"

3. John3 Randall II (John2, "John The Elder"1) was born before 1552, the first event for which there is a recorded date. John died 1552.

He married Joann Webbe.

John Randall II and Joann Webbe had the following child:

 + 5 i. Robert4 Randolph was born before November 7, 1572, the first event for which there is a recorded date.

5. Robert4 Randolph (John3 Randall, John2, "John The Elder"1) was born in Hams, Sussex, England before November 7, 1572, the first event for which there is a recorded date.

He married Rose Roberts. Rose was born in Hawkhurst, county Kent, England.

Robert Randolph and Rose Roberts had the following child:

 + 6 i. William5 Randolph was born November 7, 1572.


6. William5 Randolph (Robert4, John3 Randall, John2, "John The Elder"1) was born November 7, 1572. William died 1671 in Troup Co, Ga (probably), at 98 years of age.

He married twice. He married Dorothy Lane.

1. Dorothy is the daughter of Richard Lane and Elizabeth Vincent. Dorothy Lane NOTE* RE: Parsons website

2. Great grandfather was Francis Tanfield –

3. his great grandfather was John de Beaufort –

4. whose father was Edward III, King of England. Ed III father was

5. Edward II, and mother was Princess of France.

6. father was Edward "Longshanks"

He married Elizabeth Smith. Some say Warwickshire was William's birthplace. William was steward to Edward Lord Zouch. VHS College of arms copy shows son Robert and son Thomas - who was the famous poet.

William Randolph and Elizabeth Smith had the following child:

 7 i. Thomas the Poet6 Randolph was born in Newnham, England June 15, 1605. Thomas died March 17, 1635 at 29 years of age. 1. PEDIGREE OF THE DESCENDANTS OF HENRY RANDOLPH, I (1623-1673) OF 2 CONT HENRICO COUNTY, VIRGINIA. Manuscript by Wassell Randolph, 1957. CSL Sutro2 CONT Library, San Francisco, CA, call number #CS71 R193 1957, also on micro-fiche

William Randolph and Dorothy Lane had the following children:

 + 8 ii. Richard Randolph was born February 21, 1620/21.

 + 9 iii. Henry Randolph was born 1623.

Sixth Generation

8. Richard6 Randolph (William5, Robert4, John3 Randall, John2, "John The Elder"1) was born February 21, 1620/21. Richard died 1671 in Dublin, at 50 years of age.

He married Elizabeth Ryland in Morton Hall. Virginia Families says birth 2/22/1627.

Richard Randolph and Elizabeth Ryland had the following child:

 + 10 i. William "Colonel"7 Randolph was born 1649.

Seventh Generation

10. William "Colonel"7 Randolph (Richard6, William5, Robert4, John3 Randall, John2, "John The Elder"1) was born in Northamptonshire 1649. William died April 11, 1711 in Turkey Island, VA, at 61 years of age.

He married Mary Isham 1680. Mary was born 1659.

1. Mary was the daughter of Henry Isham and Katherine Banks. Mary died October 19, 1742 at 83 years of age.

2. Grandmother was Joan Busley, (who married Henry Isham Sr.) who was maid of the Wardrobe to Queen Elizabeth.

3. Also direct descendant of Alfred the Great, Edward the Elder - king of England, Henry I - king of France, Anne of Austria, Heingst - king of Saxony AD434. All this per Daughters of American Revolution magazine, May, 1921. Suggested by some that no other couple in history has had more distinguished descendants than William and Mary Randolph.

Bermuda Hundred was established in 1613 by Sir Thomas Dale as the first incorporated town in VA. Johne Rolfe, colony recorder, married Pocahontas there - ceremony conducted by Rev Alex Whitaker. SOURCES: VA Historical Magazine vol 19,14,3,45,85,87 History of Woodford County by William E. Railey. William Randolph of Turkey Island and his Immediate descendants, by Wassell Randolph, Colonial Dames Hobbies magazine 9/1941.

"The Visitation of Northamptonshire" lists Mary as the eldest daughter fo Henry Isham, only surviving son of Wiliam Isham, 3rd son of Sir Euseby Isham of Pytchley." A big man with a hawk nose. BORN AT MORETON MORRELL IN WARWICKSHIRE, ENGLAND-per his tombstone. (Some ref to Yorkshire).

Suggested by some that no other couple in history had a greater number of distinguished descendants than Wm & Mary Randolph.

1. Sixteenth generation in line of descent from King Henry III.

2. William was the Clerk of Henrico County succeeding uncle Henry.

3. William was the U.S. Attorney General from 1670 to 1671.

4. Also a speaker of the House of Burgesses in1698 - He was a loyalist. who came to America in 1672 [PER VIRGINIA MAGAZINE OF HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY VOL XLV - DEC. 1937]

5. He was the King's Colony council in VA, and Colonial Attorney General.

6. He was a founder of Willliam and Mary College and one of the Trustees.

7. He was known as a tobacco planter, merchant, and colonial official

TURKEY ISLAND homesite is on the north side of the James river about 15 miles from the falls. Once a peninsula connected by land at the South end, ships were required to travel all the way around the 1329-acre property in a time consuming horseshoe shaped loop. In 1934, a 3/4 mile ship channel was cut out by the Army corps of engineers to facilitate water shipping from Newport News to Richmond. The 2 1/2 mile by 1/2 mile wide island is now a National wildlife refuge, called "Presque Isle" or "Presquile", which means peninsula in French. The name was coined after the visiting report of French emigre', Duc de la Rochefoucault Liancort.

The island has been well cared for by the Department of the Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service. William and his brother built a 2 story frame home approximately 34 feet by 60 feet on the four-room plan with a symmetrical three-bay front elevation, brick "noggings", three-run open well stairs, deck-on-hip roof, two interior brick chimneys, and a raised full basement of Flemish-bond brick, situated on the extreme Southeast corner upon a sharp rising bluff. Old family letters refer to a front porch.

Some historical records suggest that cousin Richard Randolph II of Curles may have been the actual builder-contractor of the house. Conflicting historical records indicate the house was: "an imposing imported English brick mansion with a high cupola. The homesite, built on a rise in the Southwest corner of the island was expertly nestled among stately buckeye, pecan, holly, and oak trees, and must have been a wonderful place to live.

A tiny cemetery is located at the edge of the terraced groves with the remaining gravestones. The Virginia Historical Society revealed the fact that many of the Randolphs were buried on the island, but storms must have obliterated the Randolph sites and headstones. The original William Randolph "The Immigrant" was buried on Turkey Island in 1711. Mary Isham Randolph was buried there in 1742. Also buried on the island in 1742 were William "Councilor" Randolph and Colonel Isham Randolph. Ryland Randolph was buried there about 1803. William and Mary Randolph had 3 children who died as infants, William, Elizabeth, and Joseph who should also be buried on Turkey Island. There is speculation as to whether the current four non-Randolph gravesites are in the proper location or not.

There were two brick 2-room outbuildings with gable roofs to the rear of the main house which are reported to have been slave quarters and a kitchen. In 1801, David Meade Randolph, Federal Marshall of Virginia, sold the farm. In 1952, the property was willed to the Virginia Commission of Game, and subsequently transferred to the U. S. Department of the Interior. According to historical records, Lafayette used the house as headquarters before the siege of Yorktown. And, during the Civil War, the house was said to have been bombarded and occupied by Federal soldiers. The house was used by General Pickett and was reportedly dismantled, piece by piece and carried to Appomattox to be used in the building of a war hospital. After the war, it was rebuilt in the original location. Damaged by fire at a later date, the house was rebuilt again.


COLLIERS ENCYCLOPEDIA says: William Randolph (1651-1711), founder of the family in America, was the son of a Warwickshire country gentleman who came to Virginia about 1672. He established the pattern by which his descendants prospered: vast land ownership combined with the holding of vital and lucrative public offices.

1. William Randolph became king's attorney and clerk and speaker of the House of Burgesses.

2. He acquired 15,000 acres of land, which became the nucleus of the family holdings.

3. He had seven sons, five of whom founded notable lines that became associated with great plantations stretching along the James River from Williamsburg beyond Richmond: William Randolph II of Wilton, Thomas Randolph of Tuckahoe, Richard Randolph of Curles, Isham Randolph of Dungeness, and Sir John Randolph of Tazewell Hall.

4. The Randolphs became allied by marriage with the Beverleys, Blands, Bollings, Carters, Carys, Harrisons, Lees, Pages, and other aristocratic families of Virginia and intermarried until their own numerous lines were tangled "like fishhooks." It is suggested that confederate General JEB Stuart and Lady Astor are also descendants.

SOURCES: 1. THE PARSONS HERITAGE: 1651-1989, Part 1. By Mrs. Robert B. Parsons, 1989, pp59, 91-96. Unpublished manuscript is in the possession of Mr. Gary A. Parsons. 2. LIVING DESCENDANTS OF BLOOD ROYAL IN AMERICA: Volume 4, 1881-1960. Published by World Nobility and Peerage, London, England, 1959, pp127, 303, & 360. California State Library at Sutro, San Francisco, CA, call number CS55.A29 3. THE RANDOLPHS: The Story Of A Virginia Family. By H. J. Eckenrode, Bobbs - Merrill Publishing Co., Indianapolis, NY, 1946. A copy is in the possession of Mr. Gary A. Parsons. 4. THE RANDOLPHS OF VIRGINIA: America's Formost Family. By Jonathan Daniels, 1972. Pub. by Doubleday, Garden City, NY. California State Library at Sutro, San Francisco, CA., CS71.R193). 5. SOME PROMINENT VIRGINIA FAMILIES. By Louise Pecquet du Bellet, pp129-164. Published by the Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, MD, 1976. Santa Clara Public Library, Santa Clara, CA, call number GR 929.2 P36. 6. CONCISE DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY. Published by Charles Scribner & Sons, 1964. 7. PEDIGREE OF THE DESCENDANTS OF HENRY RANDOLPH, I (1623-1673) OF HENRICO COUNTY, VIRGINIA. Manuscript by Wassell Randolph, 1957. CSL Sutro Library, San Francisco, CA, call number #CS71 R193 1957, also on micro-fiche #G3 G1714 8. THE MAGNA CHARTA SURETIES, 1215: The Barons Named in the Magna Charta, 1215 And Some of Their Descendants Who Settled in America During The Early Colonial Years, Fourth Edition, 1993. By Frederick Lewis Weis, Th.D., 1955. Published by the Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., Baltimore, MD, 1993. Santa Clara Public Library, Santa Clara, CA, call number GR 929.72 W42. 9. THE ROYAL DESCENTS OF 500 IMMIGRANTS; To The American Colonies or the United States, Who Were Themselves Notable or Left Descendants Notable in American History. By Gary Boyd Roberts, 1993. Published by the Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1001 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21202. 10. From the files of Mr. Harold L. Davey, 205 Yoakum Parkway, 1711, Alexandria, VA 22304, CompuServe address: 70243,3066 March 3, 1994.

William "Colonel" Randolph and Mary Isham had the following children:

 + 12 i. William "Councillor"8 Randolph II was born November 1, 1681


Family 1:


15. General Isham8 Randolph (William "Colonel"7, Richard6, William5, Robert4, John3 Randall, John2, "John The Elder"1) was born February 24, 1685/86. General died November 2, 1742 in Dungeness, at 56 years of age.

He married Jane Rodgers. Jane was born in Oakhill Cemetery, Union Springs, Bullock Co, Al. about 1685. Jane was the daughter of Charles Rodgers and Jane Lilburne. Jane died 1761 at 76 years of age. SOURCES: !SOURCES: 1. THE ROYAL DESCENTS OF 500 IMMIGRANTS; To The American Colonies or the United States, Who Were Themselves Notable or Left Descendants Notable in American History. By Gary Boyd Roberts, 1993. Published by the Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1001 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21202. 2. From the files of Mr. Harold L. Davey, 205 Yoakum Parkway, 1711, Alexandria, VA 22304, CompuServe address: 70243,3066 March 3, 1994. Jane was his second wife. He was Educated at William & Mary. Colonial "consul at port". Colony Lt General. Englands Virginia Representative. Colonel in the county militia. House of Burgesses. 10 slaves. Captain of the ship Henrietta on the James River.

His Dungeness estate was adjacent to Rock Castle of Tarleton Fleming on the north Bank, just above licking creek. Dungeness was to be confiscated in 1779 as "Property of a British Subject"; but he turned over to brother's son, Thomas Esten Randolph and avoided it.

General Isham Randolph and Jane Rodgers had the following children:

 36 i. Isham9 Randolph Jr. was born about 1714.

 37 ii. Isham Randolph II was born in Anniston, Calhoun Co, Al. June 10, 1718. Isham died June 20, 1718 at less than one year of age.

 + 38 iii. Mary Randolph was born about 1718.

 + 39 iv. Jane Randolph was born 1720.

 + 40 v. Anne "Anna" Randolph was born about 1721.

 + 41 vi. Susanna Randolph was born about 1722.

 42 vii. Isham Randolph III was born August 08, 1724. Isham died 1771 at 46 years of age. He married Sarah Hargraves 1749. Sea captain.

 + 43 viii. Thomas Isham Randolph was born about 1728.

 + 44 ix. William Randolph was born July 29, 1729.

 + 45 x. Elizabeth "Betty" Randolph was born 1730.

 + 46 xi. Dorothea Randolph was born January 24, 1730/31.

 47 xii. Thomas I. Randolph was born in Anniston, Calhoun Co, Al. March 31, 1732. Thomas died May 20, 1732 at less than one year of age.

15. General Isham8 Randolph (William "Colonel"7, Richard6, William5, Robert4, John3 Randall, John2, "John The Elder"1) was born February 24, 1685/86. General died November 2, 1742 in Dungeness, at 56 years of age.



|  |__




|   __




Father: Isham RANDOLPH


Family 1: Peter JEFFERSON

1. +Martha JEFFERSON




 _Isham RANDOLPH _|

|                 |__




|                  __



39. Jane9 Randolph (General Isham8, William "Colonel"7, Richard6, William5, Robert4, John3 Randall, John2, "John The Elder"1) was born in Dungeness 1720. Jane died March 31, 1776 at 55 years of age.

She married Peter Jefferson 1739. Peter was born about 1707. Peter died about 1757. SOURCES FOR PETER JEFFERSON: 1. THE ROYAL DESCENTS OF 500 IMMIGRANTS; To The American Colonies or the United States, Who Were Themselves Notable or Left Descendants Notable in American History. By Gary Boyd Roberts, 1993. Published by the Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1001 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21202.

Peter's birth may be 10/3/39. Extremely large and strong man. "Father's family came from Wales, near Mt Snowdon. " TJ, an intimate history by Fawn M. Brodie. . Jane's Gravestone reads: "A discreet and virtuous woman".

Jane Randolph and Peter Jefferson had the following children:

 97 i. Jane10 Jefferson was born on (birth date unknown).

 + 98 ii. Thomas Jefferson 3rd President was born April 13, 1743.

 + 99 iii. Mary Jefferson was born about 1744.

 100 iv. Elizabeth Jefferson was born about 1746. Mentally retarded.

 + 101 v. Martha Jefferson was born about 1747.

 102 vi. Peter Field Jefferson was born about 1748. Peter died 1748 at less than one year of age. Peter died in infancy.

 103 vii. Boy Jefferson was born about 1749. Boy died 1749 at less than one year of age. Died at birth.

 + 104 viii. Lucy Jefferson was born about 1750.

 105 ix. Anna Scott Jefferson was born about 1751. Anna died July 8, 1828 at 77 years of age. She married Hastings Marks in France. Hastings was born about 1750. Hastings died 1811 at 61 years of age. twin with Randolph Jefferson.

 106 x. Randolph Jefferson was born about 1752. He married Anne Jefferson Lewis. Anne was born about 1753. Anne was the daughter of Charles Lewis and Mary Randolph. 1. Randolph and Anne were first cousins. 2 Twin with Anna Scott Jefferson



• BIRTH: 1746

• DEATH: 1811

Father: Peter JEFFERSON

Mother: Jane RANDOLPH


Family 1: Dabney CARR

1. +Lucy CARR

2. Peter CARR



 _Peter JEFFERSON _|

|                  |_________________




|                   _Isham RANDOLPH _

|_Jane RANDOLPH ___|


101. Martha10 Jefferson (Jane9 Randolph, General Isham8, William "Colonel"7, Richard6, William5, Robert4, John3 Randall, John2, "John The Elder"1) was born about 1747.

She married Dabney Carr. Dabney was born about 1746.  Martha was the sister of President Thomas Jefferson

Martha Jefferson and Dabney Carr had the following children:

 220 i. Peter11 Carr was born on (birth date unknown).

 221 ii. Samuel Carr was born on (birth date unknown).

 222 iii. Dabney Jr Carr was born on (birth date unknown).

 223 iv. Polly Carr was born on (birth date unknown).

 224 v. Jane Carr was born on (birth date unknown).

 225 vi. Lucy Carr was born on (birth date unknown). She married Richard Terrell.


• BIRTH: 7 Mar 1768

• DEATH: 1803

Father: Dabney CARR

Mother: Martha JEFFERSON


Family 1: Richard TERRELL  is the brother of William Tyrrell b. June 1629 – 1729  in Reading Berkshire, England.  

1. Ann TERRELL born approx. 1790


3. +Martha Jefferson TERRELL

4. Virginia TERRELL

5. Dabney Carr TERRELL

6. Mary Jane TERRELL


                     _John CARR _______

 _Dabney CARR ______|

|                   |_Barbara OVERTON _


|--Lucy CARR


|                    _Peter JEFFERSON _

|_Martha JEFFERSON _|

                    |_Jane RANDOLPH ___


Father: Richard TERRELL

Mother: Lucy CARR


                    _Richmond TERRELL IV_

 _Richard TERRELL _|

|                  |_Ann OVERTON ________


|--Ann TERRELL 1790


|                   _Dabney CARR ________

|_Lucy CARR _______|

                   |_Martha JEFFERSON ___

. Robert TYRRELL (1594-1643) b&d.Reading, Berks.[39,43]

: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +Jane BALDWIN; 24/6/1617, Reading, Berkshire [39,43]

: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1. Margaret TYRRELL (c.1618) of Reading, Berks. [43]

: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +Thomas WARNER [43]

: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. Roger TYRRELL (?-1683), Reading, Berkshire;

: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .         d.Milford, CT, USA [43]

: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ………………+Abigail UFFORD; 1638, Milford, CT, USA [43]

: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. Robert TYRRELL (1619-1677) of Reading, Berks.;

: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    d.London [39,43]

: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. Marie TYRRELL (1620) of Reading, Berks. [43]

: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +John MEWE [43]

: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. Richmond TERRELL (1624-1680) of Reading, Berks.;

: . . …………..  New Kent Co, VA, USA [39,43]

: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +Ann OVERTON (1625) [43]

: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +Elizabeth ? (1631); 1649 [39,43]


Joseph Carr Terrell b. Dec. 7, 1807 married Ann Terrell  on Aug. 3, 1845 in Hanover County, Virginia.  Anne was born on May 10, 1817 and died May 21, 1880.  They had four children-

1. Charles Thomas W. Terrell b. 1852

Charles Thomas W. Terrell b. 1852 married Fannie Pierce McGehee She was born on Nov. 27, 1852 and was a daughter of Alexander Stewart McGehee 16 Sep 1826  and Mary Jane Thompson 1854  She died at Beaver Dam, Hanover County, Va. On April 29, 1929.  They were the parents of five sons.  

1. Dr. Emmett Herman Terrell b. May 10, 1878 m. Daisy Ellett

2. Hervey Rosser Terrell b. Aug 20, 1880 d. Jan 10, 1920 married Lucy Vaughan b. Jan 22. 1880 (my Aunt Lucy that cat Miss Lucy was named after.  What a great lady she was)

3. Joseph Stuart Terrell b. Oct. 18, 1886 married Y. Winfrey (Uncle Joe)

4. Charles Pierce Terrell b. Sept. 6, 1892 m. Mabel C. Billups

5. Earley Thomas Terrell b. May 13, 1882


Earley Thomas Terrell b. May 13, 1882 married Ophelia Louise Harris (my grandparents who lived in a big house in Ashland, Virginia.  They had four children.

1. Earley Thomas Terrell (Uncle Earley who was a psychiatrist and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  Married to Eugenia Jackson Beazley (Aunt Jean)

2. Francis Nelson Terrell b. Jan 14, 1915 d. Nov. 5 1972 married Henry Drewry Kerr, Jr.

3. Martha Louise Terrell b. June 22, 1920 married Nathan Lenoir Riddle.  They live in Georgia outside of Atlanta

4. James Emmett Terrell –

James Emmett Terrell - b. 1911 Ashland, VA - d. Nov. 7, 1967 Evansville, Indiana

m. to Nannie Belle Clendenin, Greensboro, NC.  1937

Attended William & Mary College, Williamsburg, VA

Was Senior Vice President of Mead Johnson & Co. a division of Bristol Meyers Pharmaceuticals

Elder in the 1st Presbyterian Church; Lions Club; Kiwanis Club; Evansville Country Club

2. Nancy Clendenin Terrell - b. Jan. 12, 1940 in Richmond, Virginia

m. Morton Franklin Longnecker, Jr. on Aug. 27, 1960

son - Gregory Stuart Longnecker

son - Michael Emmett Longnecker

brother - James Emmett Terrell, Jr.  Architect in Manhattan, NY

Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana, 1961

Master of Arts Degree in Education from Univ. of Southern Miss.  Hattiesburg, Ind. 1980

Romper Room Teacher on ABC - TV - 1968 - 1973

Interviewer for General Electric Cablevision for MS., AL., LA & FL from '73 - 75

Manager Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce 1976

Master Weaver at Worlds Fair in New Orleans - 1984 (Public Exhibition at Biloxi Cultural Center '82

Journalist for International/Caribbean newspapers 1992 -

Member of the Royal British Virgin Islands Yacht Club & The West End BVI Yacht Club






Father: Richard TERRELL

Mother: Lucy CARR


                    _Richmond TERRELL IV_

 _Richard TERRELL _|

|                  |_Ann OVERTON ________




|                   _Dabney CARR ________

|_Lucy CARR _______|

                   |_Martha JEFFERSON ___


1. Nancy Terrell

2. James Emmett Terrell

3. Early Thomas Terrell

4. Charles Thomas Terrell

5. Joseph Carr Terrell married Ann Terrell

6. Lucy Carr

7. Dabney Carr married Martha Jefferson sister of Thomas Jefferson

8. Peter Jefferson married Jane Randolph

Thomas Jefferson and the American Holy Grail. The Jefferson Ley Line.


Many debate whether Thomas Jefferson was a Mason or not. There are no official records that one can point to that confirms this. If you ask a Mason they will all respond that yes he was a brother. Further evidence suggests that he may have also been a York Rite Mason, and Knights Templar Strict Observance. One of his fellow members of that order was contemporary genius Alexander Von Humboldt. There are no definite records of these  associations beyond the Book of the Holy Grail. No records exist of Thomas Jefferson being a Mason. Note also that later in his life most of Jefferson's personal papers were lost.


Jefferson and Von Humboldt were both members of the Linnean Society of London a naturalist group of which Charles Darwin would later be a member. Many of Jefferson’s actions, philosophies, and beliefs indicate a possible thread of truth to this story. The following facts may prove that Jefferson designed his country estate, Poplar Forest, as a veneration of the Dome of the Rock and intended it to function as an Axis Mundi in the Roman Tradition. The establishment of Axis and Templum may have been a tradition upheld by the Knights Templar.


One compelling piece of evidence that supports the notion of Jefferson being a Knights Templar Strict Observance is the “The Book of the Holy Grail” by Joseph of Arimathea. This book is said to have been written by Joseph at Rennes Le Chateau, Languedoc Rousillon region, France. Thomas Jefferson is said to have edited this book from French to English. Later in the mid-nineteenth century French minister to the United State Henry Mercier re-edited the book once more.


The contemporary edition of the book is accompanied by a forward to the book entitled “Keys to the Quest” by J.R. Ploughman. The book describes Joseph of Arimathea as Jesus’ father. This is very odd in that it is widely accepted that Joseph of Arimathea was a follower of Christ that donated his tomb for Christ. No other source names Joseph of Ariamethea as a blood relative of Jesus. This may be one of the many hidden clues left in the book.


The portion of the book that was said to be edited by Jefferson and Mercier is the original “Book of the Holy Grail.” This portion of the book contains what is said to be the Merovingian Bible as well as a description of an interesting “Grail Language” code that uses numerical sequences of specific numbers. This portion of the book is free of wild speculation and lore and is fairly cut and dried in a descriptive manner. Some examples of the Grail Language include numerical sequences that represent “Lapis Excellus” as well as the geomantic goddess Puella that has been associated with Jefferson in other research. Many believe this book to be a fake or a fabrication.


The book describes a religion in which God has a wife. It describes a pantheon of angels similar to what Paulian doctrine describes. One of the largest differences between this religion and that of the Vatican involves how Christ’s life is portrayed. The Book of the Holy Grail describes how Jesus did not die on the Cross and was not resurrected but lived and was spirited away to France where he fathered children. He was said too have lived eleven more years at Renne Le Chateau. His and Mary Magdelene’s children were the basis of the Merovingian bloodline that includes much of the Royalty of Europe. Joseph of Arimathea was said to have written the original Book of the Holy Grail  (BOTHG) at Rennes Le Chateau.


One of the reason’s this book is dismissed as fantasy may be many of the outrageous claims made in the first and more modern part of the book written by J.R. Ploughman. Among many claims featured in the book is that of a kind of psychic Vampirism and the ability to access all of one’s ancestor’s memories by members of the order. Ploughman does use the word “Vampire.” This edition of the book was released in 1977 by then Grand Master Ploughman. He stated the order had “Failed to restore the wasteland” and that maybe revealing the secrets of the order would attract the people who were supposed to save it. Somewhat cryptic.


From another perspective it is a shame the book was not released with out the more modern portion of the book. This may be why the book is not taken seriously. Another view of the book is that it was intentionally made to seem untrue.


Among many of the more startling claims made by Ploughman is the fact that Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion and discoverer of the famous Golden Tablets of Mormon, was also a Knights Templar Strict Observance. From a tale seemingly right out of the Book of Enoch Joseph Smith found the Golden Tablets very close to a line created by the azimuth of the northwest facet of the pyramid of Giza. This geographic fact fits a pattern of religions similar to that of ancient Egypt being propagated along the azimuths suggested by the shape and orientation of the Great Pyramid. This tradition led to other places such as St. Peter’s square of the Vatican being used as a similar sighting device.


The obelisk at the center of St. Peter’s is surrounded by so called “windrose” markers. Each windrose marker is labled with a primary compass direction and region to which it points. This feature is a continuation of the older Roman tradition of an Axis Mundi that establishes directions and regions termed a Templum that are the domain of the group that established it. It is highly likely that Thomas Jefferson designed his county estate, Poplar Forest, as an octagonal Axis Mundi using the same tradition that had descended from the ages of ancient Egypt and Sumeria. In addition the plan of Poplar Forest resembles the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.


If Jefferson was a Knights Templar it makes sense that he would be interested in the occult applications of cartography, architecture, and any other pursuit that utilized sacred geometry. The Knights Templar used templates to build buildings why not to navigate on a map? Jefferson was a professionally trained surveyor. The fact that Monticello sits precisely on the 38th parallel may not be a coincidence.  Being aware of his place on the globe Jefferson realized this precise latitude coordinate was near where he was from and placed his home there.  Thomas Jefferson’s father was also an accomplished surveyor.


The Knights Templar occupied the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for nearly two hundred years. The Dome of the Rock was constructed in 691-92 A.D. The Dome was on the Temple Mount during the Templars time there. It is possible that some of the “hidden information” that the Templars became privy to was gleaned from the structure of the Dome of the Rock itself. Some aspects of the Dome may have even caused the Templars to question the validity of The Roman Catholic Church itself. It turns out that the Muslim view of Christ is very similar to the Gnostic view of Christ. It is within the realm of possibility that the Dome of the Rock represents the Holy Grail itself.


First of all one of the inscriptions on the Dome of the Rock from the Koran reads:

"Such was Jesus son of Mary and peace upon him on the day of birth and on the day of death and on the day he is raised up again. It is a word of truth in which they doubt. It is not for God to take a son. Glory be to him when he decrees a thing he only says "be and it is." (Quran:19:33–35)


This verse from the Koran may have had an impact on the Templars. Many of the Reasons given for the later persecution of the Templars were actions that seemed disrespectful to Jesus and the Roman Catholic Church. This small clue fits in with the ethos and philosophy of the Cathars and other Gnostic or truth oriented Christian groups. The concept that Jesus was a man and did not ascend or rise on Easter is one of the main disputes between the Roman Church and other Christian’s. Were the Knights Templar still Christians who simply had a different value of Christ? Many speculate that Jefferson was even involved in the faith of Islam. While he may have studied and appreciated the Muslim faith nothing could be further from the truth. Jefferson was a deist that may have had a faith closer to that described in the Book of Mormon and the Book of the Holy Grail. He admired Islam for the Dome of the Rock and their view of Christ.


The Knights Templar value of the Dome of the Rock also may have hinged on the fact that they either knew or discovered that the octagonal plan of the building could be used as a giant map template that inferred important directions in its shape. The octagon could be used as a datum from which to measure along eight to sixteen fixed directions defined by the orientation of the building. It is known that the Cistercian Order of monks from which the Knights Templar sprang were aware of the concepts of geodesy and accurately measuring the earth long before the occupation of the Temple Mount. Undoubtedly Cistercian Monks were present along with the Knights during its occupation during the Crusades. The Cistercian Order also has a group that is termed "Strict Observance."


The plan of the Dome of the Rock more closely resembles a Byzantine design for Christian Churches. During the reign of Emperor Justinian I he was credited with the design and construction of the octagonal Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy the original seat of the Roman Christian Church. Several other churches with octagonal plans were built during the rule of Justinian I. Later Templar churches seem to also be based on this design template. These facts are the reason that Thomas Jefferson used the plan of the Dome of the Rock to design and build his country Estate, Poplar Forest. Note: Ravenna is on the due north azimuth using the N windrose marker and the obelisk at the center of St. Peter's Square.


The Dome of the Rock is interesting in that it was built during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian II named if not descended from Emperor Justinian I who ruled over a hundred years prior.  Justinian I was the designer of the octagonal form of San Vitale and other octagonal churches. It is curious that even though Byzantium did not control the Holy Land at this time that a form created by a Christian emperor would be chosen for a Muslim Shrine. It is clear that by this date there was a definite form established for Moorish or Muslim architecture. These facts may be suggestive of some behind the scenes manipulation from Rome and Constantinople.