On April 13, 1743, Thomas Jefferson was born and grew up to become one of the most important figures in American history. Here are five lesser-known facts about the author of the Declaration of Independence, and the third President of the United States.
He Bribed A Reporter James Callender condemned some politicians in his news articles for their indiscretions, including John Adams and Alexander Hamilton. His attention was turned to Jefferson in 1801 because he had heard that he was romantically involved with Sally Hemings, his slave. Callender tried to blackmail Jefferson, asking for $200 and a postmaster’s job in exchange for keeping quiet. Although Jefferson angrily paid him $50, the reporter broke the news anyway. Callender later drowned in the James River in 1803.
He Invented A Few Things
In addition to being one of the Founding Fathers and a brilliant statesman, Jefferson used his talent as an inventor to improve upon his farm at Monticello. Anxious to till soil more efficiently, he and his son-in-law, Thomas Mann Randolph, conceived of a plow that could navigate hills. Jefferson also made improvements to a dumbwaiter, a small elevator used to transport food and other items up and down different house levels without using the stairs.
Jefferson Helped To Restock the Library of Congress
British forces burned the Library of Congress during the War of 1812, reducing its 3000-volume library of books to ashes. In an effort to repopulate the repository of knowledge, Jefferson sold Congress his entire personal library of 6,707 books for $23,950. The books from Jefferson’s library were transported by wagon to Washington, D.C., from his home in Virginia.
Jefferson Was One of The Founders of The University of Virginia
Jefferson was a strong advocate of education and worked to establish a higher education institution in Virginia. Jefferson arranged funding, contributed design ideas, and helped shepherd the University of Virginia toward its opening in 1825. Known as the “founding father” of the university, his influence has not always been welcomed.. In 2018, protestors at the school spray-painted the word “rapist” on his statue at the school, referring to his controversial relationship with slave Sally Hemings.
He Died On The Same Day As John Adams On July 4, 1826, former Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who were once fellow Patriots and then adversaries, died on the same day. Both men were the last surviving members of the original American revolutionaries who had stood up to the British empire and forged a new political system in the former colonies. On July 4, 1826, at the age of 90, Adams lay on his deathbed while the country celebrated Independence Day. His last words were, "Thomas Jefferson still survives." He was mistaken: Jefferson had died five hours earlier at Monticello at the age of 83.