top of page


Thomas Jefferson

SKU: 0012
  • Thomas Jefferson    1743-1826       Date:  2002

    THOMAS JEFFERSON (1743-1826), third president of the United States, was born at Shadwell, VA, April 13, 1743.  The date is a Missouri state holiday.  His father was a well-to-do planter.  After studying at the College of William and Mary he “read law” and entered into politics.  He was a delegate to the Continental Congress and was chosen to draft the Declaration of Independence.  After the new government was formed he became the first Secretary of State.  He was elected President in 1800 and took office on March 4, 1801 for the first of his two terms. 


    Although Jefferson had advocated a limited role for the federal government, he was quick to take advantage of Emperor Napoleon’s offer to sell the French province of Louisiana to the United States, realizing that this large area had immense importance to the future of the new nation.  The negotiations were completed in 1802.  The area of Missouri lay wholly within the Louisiana Territory.


    In 1803 Jefferson commissioned his confidential secretary Meriwether Lewis, along with William Clark, to lead an expedition to explore the newly acquired territory.  The party started from St. Louis by water in May of 1804 and passed the site of Jefferson City in early June.  The explorations continued for more than two years, again passing the site of Jefferson City in mid-September of 1806.  William Clark later became the last territorial governor of Missouri, which became a state in 1821. 


    Jefferson completed his term as President in 1809.  His great project in his remaining years was the founding of the University of Virginia.  He died at Monticello, the magnificent dwelling he designed and built, on July 4, 1826.  By coincidence his revolutionary war colleague, and later political rival, John Adams, died on the same day.


    It is entirely fitting that our state capital should bear the name of Thomas Jefferson, who was so important to the future of our state.


    The ornament features a painting of Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, completed in 1805 while he was President.  The original is the property of the New York Historical Society.


bottom of page