Thomas Jefferson was born in Virginia on April 13, 1743. His father had been among the earliest settlers in this wilderness country, and his position of leadership descended to his eldest son, together with 5,000 acres of land.
Jefferson became one of the best-educated Americans of his time. At the age of 17 he entered the College of William and Mary, where he got exciting first glimpses of "the expansion of science, and of the system of things in which we are placed." Nature destined him to be a scientist, he often said; but there was no opportunity for a scientific career in Virginia, and he took the path of the law, studying it under the tutelage of George Wythe as a branch of the history of mankind. He read widely in the law, in the sciences, and in both ancient and modern history, philosophy, and literature. Jefferson was admitted to the bar in 1767; his successful practice led to a wide circle of influence and to cultivated intellectual habits that would prove remarkably creative in statesmanship. When the onrush of the American Revolution forced him to abandon practice in 1774, he turned these legal skills to the rebel cause.
Thomas Jefferson's public career began in 1769, when he served as a representative in the Virginia House of Burgesses (was the elected lower house summoned by an elected legislative assembly led by Governor Yeardley, in the legislative assembly established in the Colony of Virginia in 1619). Years later considered as leader of the patriot faction was a founding member of the Virginia Committee of Correspondence, and in A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774), prepared for the First Virginia Convention, he brilliantly expounded the view that Parliament had no authority in the colonies and that the only bond with England was voluntary allegiance to the king. Although never an effective public speaker, he won a reputation as a draftsman of... [continua]
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